Ruby Rae Peaches Tuten stakes her claim. Credit: Elizabeth Tuten

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Home Gym is a series by City Paper writers looking at the different ways D.C. is working out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay updated on local cancelations with our updated list, and visit the CDC website for information on how to practice safe habits during this time.

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It’s 11:53 a.m., and I need to take a break from work. Luckily, my usual yoga studio, Epic Yoga, has a noon online class taught by the founder, Emma Saal. I change out of my leisure leggings and into my mild-to-moderate-activity leggings. Braiding my hair after not touching it for two days is exercise enough, but I persevere. I choose to leave my pearls on because even though I haven’t put on non-elastic pants in five days, the pearls make me feel like a fabulous old woman on the Titanic elegantly resigned to her fate.

No sooner do I unfurl my yoga mat onto my living room floor do I find that two cats, one massive, seething tuxedo and one tiny, chipper calico who just wants to help, have made it their new home. I remove the cats. The cats return. Thus begins at-home yoga.

Saal starts the class by recommending some household items that can be substituted in for the usual bolters and foam blocks found in her studio. I don’t take her soup-can-as-a-block recommendation, but I do grab Burr, our stately arctic seal pillow friend, for a lower back opener.

She asks us to set our intention for the class, recommending a focus on calm, health, and connectivity. I choose, “Don’t let this become an epic floor nap.” Nama-stay awake.

The class moves through the typical vinyasa flow of Sun A’s with some thunderbird pushups and eagle and chair poses tucked in. Saal reminds us not to be self conscious about messing up or wobbling, because “truly, nobody is watching.”

At one point I put in my wireless headphones to hear better, but the Instagram Live feed never cuts out or loses audio. Seeing the tiny screen (that’s now propped up on the seal pillow) from a standing position isn’t easy, but Saal’s steady stream of direction creates a meditative flow of movement. We build heat, we take some back bends, and we savasana for a few minutes before the hour is up. “I feel like all the years of talking to myself have prepared me for this,” Saal says to the 35 or so viewers. A small flurry of emoji responses emphasizes this shared sentiment.

Will I shut my cats in the bathroom and do an Instagram Live yoga class again? Absolutely. Pre-recorded yoga classes are fine in a pinch, but the live “gathering” allowed for just enough of a community vibe—which is one of my favorite parts of practicing yoga. 

Follow Epic Yoga, District Yoga, and Shaw Yoga on Instagram for announcements about future Instagram Live classes and other means of staying connected and moving, with or without feline assistance.