International Day of Yoga: Twanna Reflects on 2020

2020 is a year to remember and it’s only June.  My reflections on: Who do you think you are? A deadly virus, Black Lives Matter and My Yoga

What have the past six months taught me?

More than I could have ever imagined.

This January a life changing New Year’s ‘gift’ was given to me.  At 50 my inner strength was yet again put to the test when I discovered that who I thought was my father, was not.

Reflection number one: Trust

It’s a long and painful story.  But the news forced me to reflect on my family’s journey and how family narratives shape life.

Once the shock had made its way around my body, I caught my breath and then faced that old chestnut of a question – who do you think you are Twanna?   Who – do – you –think – you – are …

I’m not a yoga teacher but I’m certain that every yoga teacher on this earth would agree that in times of pain and suffering a yoga practice has the power to save, sustain and help us face, and maybe even answer, some of life’s hard questions.

So, I turned to my yoga

By the time February arrived I had agreed with myself I would visit my mother (we had a lot to talk about) and then I would go on retreat.  It was only natural that I was going to need some time to process all of this and even mourn my loss.  Arrangements were made, tickets booked.  On the 24th April, I would travel from my home in London to New York for an onward journey to America’s Midwest for some ancestry therapy with my mum.  This never happened.

Enter COVID-19, a global pandemic that has grounded the world.   A world event that will have far reaching and long-lasting consequences.

COVID-19 has taken many lives, broken many hearts, put thousands of women and children in danger, created isolation, separation and division.  It has turned parents into teachers, has turned kitchen tables into hot desks and created new challenges for both big and small businesses.  The virus has also highlighted how we collectively react when under threat.  It’s shone a light on our real heroes, demonstrated what we can achieve in a short amount of time, got Captain Tom doing laps and Joe Wicks on his mat.

Reflection number two: Connection

My yoga held me

Then on the 25th May after weeks of lockdown and years of injustice, enough was enough.

Nothing was going to stop the world from taking a stand in protest for justice.  The time had come and this time would feel different.  We were asked to say their names, educate ourselves on privilege, learn How To Be An Anti Racist (Ibram X. Kendi), take part in uncomfortable conversations, listen and share the mic. The message was loud and clear All Lives Matter when, and only when, Black Lives Matter. This is not a slogan, a hashtag, or a trend. Tokenism is not welcome.  The next generation has stood up and stepped forward.  For them and for all of us, much is expected.  A lot of work will be required.

Reflection number three: Courage

My yoga gave me strength

So, on this International Yoga Day, Sunday, 21 June 2020, after six months of challenges and a lot of reflection, I give thanks to yoga.  Your principles anchor me and your asanas sustain me.  And to all yoga teachers who encourage us to stick with, and deepen our practice.  Thank you.

Twanna Doherty joined Yogamatters as MD in 2014. Originally from Indiana, she remembers practicing yoga in front of the TV as a teenager (with Lilias Folas) and says yoga is a lifelong practice that today, helps her to get closer to herself. Twanna embraces the heritage of Yogamatters, whilst leaning into her core values; courage and connection. Based in London but happiest when in the countryside, surrounded by nature. Twanna is inspired by strong women of the past and present who are advocates for living their best lives.

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