Annenberg Radio

Is the pandemic working out for anyone?

Despite the odds of the pandemic, USC yoga instructors find ways to continue to teach virtually and in person.

It’s not just students feeling Zoom fatigue this year. Many instructors are also burning out from faceless Zoom participants and long video calls. Ironically, even well-balanced yoga instructors are finding themselves mentally drained from teaching online.

USC student Anna Balbach teaches yoga but had to shift to online teaching during the height of the pandemic. While temporarily living in Kauai Balbach had the opportunity to teach in-person yoga due to the different COVID-19 guidelines in Kauai.

“I love teaching and yoga, I just love sharing it...But during this time I enjoy, just teaching and giving people a safe space to come to and just kind of sweat out the anxiety.”

Many yoga studios in the Los Angeles Area have temporarily closed because of COVID-19 guidelines. The restrictions prohibited in-person instruction of indoor yoga studios but many of these guidelines are starting to lift by April and early May.

Besides coping with the loss of in-person teaching in California, Balbach has had to face another challenge that online yoga classes have presented to her.

“Will anyone show up? Because I was like, I can teach online, but will people be motivated to show up? Because people don’t realize the hardest part of class is just showing up, getting yourself to go to the class.”

Balbach admits she is quite attached to her studio in Kauai and will miss teaching there when she comes back to LA. She enjoys interacting with her students face to face and creating an in person bond.

“It’s just so much more fun when you can see people’s faces, you can talk to them. You get to play the music loud and you can tell if your voice is being heard. When you’re on your laptop, you don’t know if your voice is getting cut off. You don’t know how loud the music is. Like everything’s off.”

Whether Balbach is in person or online, she brings her positive energy to her students. Balbach feels that yoga creates a safe space that everyone should be involved in.

“I never really had those conversations around mental health until I became a yoga instructor and I didn’t realize how much it had impacted me until the pandemic hit.”

That’s USC student and CorePower yoga teacher Simran Kholi. Like Balbach, she uses yoga as an outlet in her daily routine.

Kholi stopped teaching online because she misses the connections she makes in classes. But she continues to practice yoga because it’s helped her stay grounded and true to herself during the pandemic.

“I’d walk away being so fulfilled and feeling so whole I got to reflect and say there’s a lot going on in my life right now. Like, what do I want to sit here and say for these next 60 minutes, like I’m going to commit to and then I can share that.”

She stayed connected with the yoga community by face timing her fellow instructors and teaching online this past summer.

“I really thrive on the energy of others. And so when you’re in the studio and everyone’s smiling or everyone’s sweating or everyone looks like they’re about to die together, that’s the kind of energy that I think brings an entire class together.”

Both Balbach and Kohli said that nothing—not even a pandemic—can stop them from doing the activity that they love.

“I want to keep it up because it’s kind of like riding a bike. You can pick it back up, but if you go a long time without doing it, you’re kind of rusty and you kind of have to get back in the swing of things. And I love it, too, so I want to keep doing it.”

If anything, the pandemic taught them to do what they love even when it’s difficult.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Katy Auerbach.