I went to a yoga class today, with other live human beings who weren’t my wife. A class in a room where I could hear other people’s breath, see the flow that connected their bodies and mine. A class where there was no time lag, no frozen faces or bodies, where the warmth of (not-touching) humanity was palpable.

I’ve had a personal yoga practice since before I was a teenager. I taught myself from books long before I lived somewhere there were regular classes – or the money to go to them. In my cancer recoveries, practicing alone until my body was a little more able was the best I could do and it made the return to classes more possible. In my yoga teacher training we talked a great deal about the value of a personal practice. In lockdown it has been hugely useful to have that discipline, that desire to practice regardless, and the many online offers have also been a boon – as is the ability to connect easily to the internet and the space to practice at home, the time and the ability to pay. All of it a privilege I am very aware of.

BUT … yoga is a human practice and humans thrive in community. Life is a community practice. And I have so missed the connection of strangers in a room. The acknowledgement that we might not know each other, but we’re there with a common goal of working on ourselves and working in community. So today, at Level Six‘s first class, with the brilliant Will Wheeler, I was a little tearful and very heartful at the start and end of the class. Both with gratitude to the people of Level Six for the huge amount of work involved in making the space safe* AND welcoming (and the vegan snickers & banana bread, obviously), and with love for the possibility of connecting in community, however we can make it happen. Level Six have been amazing during lockdown too – loads of affordable online classes, free classes and some wonderful Black Women Rising yoga-class-fundraisers.

Here’s me talking about community and inclusion and inequality and Fun Palaces and freelancers and hope for the very splendid Harrogate Festivals #HIFWeekender.

And there’s some Fun Palaces news coming on Monday – more community connecting, safely, welcoming, caring. Look out for it …

*safe: detailed email about protocols, temperature check at security, fill out track & trace contact form, masks in public areas, hand sanitiser everywhere, own mats in designated spaces. Really reassuring.

Image is me & other writers dancing/backing singing with the glorious Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers at Harrogate’s Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival 2018.