Wellness During a Pandemic

By Kristin Reiber Harris

We have all spent the last year doing our best to avoid catching the COVID-19 virus. It has required extreme measures. However, masks, social distancing, and the other protocols we have observed do not represent a meaningful overall strategy for our general wellbeing. A recent NYWIFT Talks Wellness During COVID 2.0 moderated by Easmanie Michel, NYWIFT’s Special Projects Associate, addressed this issue with experts in wellness, Laurie Gerber, Head Coach at HG Life, and professional athlete and yoga instructor Zachy Chrisodoulou, owner of the Sommerville PurFlo Yoga franchise. COVID was actually rarely referenced in this conversation, which in fact makes it even more permanently relevant.

The chosen profession of each of these two women really framed their thoughts on wellness. Laurie, life coach with the Handel Method, is focusing on the whole person and how all the aspects of our lives impact on our health and well-being. On numerous occasions she referenced what she called a “current reality quiz” available on her company website, Inner.U. (https://www.inneru.coach) Being honest with ourselves is a good first step to putting our house in order and being accountable were recurring refrains from Laurie. 

Zachy grew up with numerous male cousins with whom she played soccer as a kid, setting the stage for her life as an athlete and coach. She expanded into yoga and was the first to franchise a PurFlo Yoga studio. She frequently referenced the importance of designing your life, connecting to nature as a way to find inner peace, and being in the present moment. Zachy talked about the COVID protocols they practiced at the studio to keep teachers and students safe, and that in-studio classes were an option with the proper precautions.

An interesting similarity for both women in finding their passion coaching wellbeing was a crisis. Laurie said she was miserable after feeling like she had accomplished external circumstances that should have made her happy. A friend introduced her to the Handel Method and it changed her life. Zachy suffered a serious knee injury that left her in a full cast. She was encouraged to take a chair yoga class. It didn’t take her many classes to experience of the power of yoga. That was the beginning of her involvement with yoga and sharing her enthusiasm for the practice.

As a long-time practitioner of yoga myself, I especially responded to Zachy’s comments about the community that is created in a yoga class/studio. That community includes a group of friends, rituals, and growing together. In further detailing the benefits of yoga, Zachy encouraged learning how to breathe with pranayama as an important tool in help us be present in the moment.

Both women encouraged us to take responsibility for our wellbeing by being honest with ourselves and taking time, like an hour a day, to ground both physically and mentally.

A yoga class offered at Zachy’s Sommerville PurFlo studio followed the panel discussion.


Kristin Harris

Kristin Harris Kristin Reiber Harris is an artist, animator and educator. She tells stories about the connection of all life on Earth and the wonder and wisdom of the natural world. Her films have been screened in numerous film festivals for over 20 years. Recently Kristin received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts to create a series of drawings celebrating the connection of all life. The drawings are inspired by visits to Narrows Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn and Islamic geometrical symmetries. Learn more about her work at KristinHarrisDesign.com and follow @kristinharrisdesign. She is documenting her process and progress on the NYSCA grant on https://lifeisinthebalance.blogspot.com.

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