Insights and musings on health and happiness


Although overused, in these weird times this Heraclitus saying comes to mind “change is the only constant in life.” I don’t think 3 months ago anyone would have expected to be where we all are now – homebound with closed businesses and an iffy economy where people are losing their jobs and family members.

As a business owner, it kept me up at night – how can we avoid the spread of this virus? How are we going to pay our teachers? How can we continue to provide wellness services to our students? And how are we going to pay the bills? It is a hard realization that it is just an unlucky time to own a business, where your personal savings/retirement is going to be needed to float the business and after the world opens back up, how long will it take for people to return? In these uncertain times, it is easy to go down a rabbit hole of doom and gloom, but bear with me because, honestly, there are some positive things that can come out of this incredibly hard time, our new normal.

Start Something New. If you asked when I opened True North Yoga & Wellness if I’d ever have online classes, I would have balked. As I came to recognize it wasn’t safe to have students in the studio but continuing healthy practices and keeping this community alive in a difficult time was important, I had to pivot. We scrambled to decide on a virtual platform for classes as well as training the instructors and students on this new system, but we got there and now we have a full schedule of online yoga and meditation classes!

Since our patterns are changing, just like at the studio, maybe it is time to try something new. Maybe that is the book you’ve been meaning to pick up, the house project you’ve always wanted to get to, a medieval podcast, baking an egg souffle, making pickles, taking an online (meditation) class, or finally having that fire pit roast some marshmallows outside. Whatever you’ve been wanting to get into, maybe now is the time.

Change Patterns. For however short or long you’ve been on this earth, you’ve probably found yourself in some sort of pattern. Waking up at 6 am, making coffee, rushing to get the kids ready for school, and eating a muffin on the way to work and then do it all the next day. All of us are experiencing changes. Some of us may be out of work, working from home, have different office hours, or find that with nonessential businesses closed, our usual patterns have changed. With this adjustment, it may be time to reassess our old patterns. What do you like and want to keep and what would you like to change?

In my household, a new pattern we’ve implemented is to go to a new park every weekend morning. I have lived here more than half my life, and just ventured to Cold Harbor National Battleground for the first time today. It has been a nice change of pace and something we research and look forward to as the weekend approaches.

Get Outside. We can’t go to the gym or to dine at a restaurant, but the great outdoors is still open for business! We are so lucky this all transpired in the States when birds are chirping, and flowers are in full bloom.

Based on the National Human Activity Pattern Survey, on average, Americans spend only 7% of their time outside. Just 15-20 minutes a day outside can help you get the Vitamin D you need to increase your immune system (Harvard Health Publishing, 2008), which is imperative in our current environment. This statistic is why when deciding my one personal goal to go along with my work goals, it was to spend more time outside – 2 hours per day is, in fact, my goal. And with a 9 am – 5:30 pm job (on a good day), this is my commitment to my health.

Social Distancing ≠ Antisocial. Unlike previous pandemics, in 2020 we are fortunate to have technology to keep us connected. Free software like Houseparty, Google Hangouts, or Zoom are available for people to meet virtually. I have “Happy Hours” and “Appy Hours” with friends and family, and what is great is you aren’t limited to just locals! I joined my Boston-based book club again, have a check-in with all of my college friends every Sunday who span from LA, Atlanta, Boston, Asheville all the way to Mijas, Spain, and am hoping to finish this article before my Saturday catch up with some other friends on the interwebs. Although COVID-19 has kept us grounded, it also has broken down the barriers of distance and creating new patterns of catching up with these friends more often than I did before the Coronavirus.


So, by the time you are reading this article, I hope we see a lift in some of our non-essential bans and come to yet another new norm that we will hold with us for decades from now – possibly questioning yourself before hugging someone and always having antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes and face masks stocked. But, perhaps we will see some new good habits form as well and maybe I’ll see you at one of Richmond’s many parks on a Sunday morning.


Aliza Sterling

Influenced by teachers, peers, students, 200YTT in Integral Yoga in Rishikesh, India, and other travels, Aliza creates a supportive environment with a focus on individual empowerment in the classroom. She started True North Yoga and Wellness with the desire to bring the Northside community together.

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