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IN THE LIFE Bradshaw Wish: Yoga in the age of COVID-19
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-04-01

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Bradshaw Wish is a yoga instructor with quite a following.

However, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for everyone, including those involved in the health/fitness/wellness field.

When asked how the social-distancing guidelines ( which President Trump has extended through Thursday, April 30 ) has affected Wish ( who has no preferred pronouns ) said, "Oh, wow—in so many ways. I've been starting to put a lot of my content online, which I've wanted to do for years. And the number of people taking my class through Instagram and YouTube is kind of staggering—and that's helped me sustain my living, which is amazing."

Illustrating how fluid life can be, Wish majored in advertising research at Philadelphia's Temple University. However, "I didn't want to stay in Philadelphia and I didn't want to pay to stay in New York City, so I visited a friend in Chicago," he said. "I didn't have a job and I only had $2,000, [but] I moved in with a friend in Edgewater. Me and my ex lived with my friend and his boyfriend for about six months.

"Then we got our own place and I worked in Boystown, at Halsted's Bar & Grill." Cut to a year and a half later, and Wish got a job working at the Apple store in Lincoln Park—but found the experience frustrating.

However, Wish's ex-partner soon introduced him to yoga—and Wish no longer found himself rudderless. Wish had never tried yoga, but told Windy City Times he had a background in collegiate gymnastics and cheerleading. About nine months later, he became a certified instructor.

Wish said the allure of yoga, for him, involved two things: the physicality of the discipline and the opportunity to perform in front of groups. "The work at Apple or the serving was not what I wanted to do, and I saw a lot of opportunity for growth here," said Wish, who is self-employed but also teaches vinyasa yoga for Chicago Athletic Clubs and Bare Feet Power Yoga ( the latter which Wish said launched his business ). "I can be myself, and teach health and wellness."

And practitioners and teachers are, of course, aware of "trendier" forms such as hot, nude and even goat yoga. Wish said, "I think they work. Yoga is very expansive and comes in many different forms." Adding that there is no one path, he added, "It's not my job to say if it's good or bad. I just stick with that works for me."

Regarding misconceptions about yoga, Wish said, "I think there is a misconception that the only people practicing yoga are white females between the ages of 18 and 35. There are more people practicing yoga in the world today than ever, so we have to remember that there are different demographics, sexualities, races, colors that are enjoying this practice.

'When people ask me what I want to see more of in the yoga room, I say I want it to look like the streets of Chicago. I want the yoga room to have color, diversity and vibrancy—including older people and people with different body types."

Wish also said that there is a notion of "toxic positivity" that's sometimes attached to yoga. "I want people to know that the message should be that we have to ebb and flow, be there for each other, be happy that we can practice yoga in our homes, and be kind and compassionate toward each other.

"We need to find a space between the college students who partied on St. Patrick's Day and the people talking about doomsday. Yoga is about symmetry and balance, and about connection."

And going back to the online classes ( which have an increasing number of devotees ), Wish said that he's dealing with an unexpected side effect: "I actually got nervous with a recent class. There were 140 people taking it!"

See BradshawWish.com as well as @bradshawwishyoga ( on Instagram ) and Facebook.

Quick facts about Bradshaw Wish:

—Current neighborhood: Buena Park

—Relationship: In a partnership

—Favorite snack: Plantain chips

—Source of first name: Maternal grandmother's maiden name

—Show that you're binge-watching: Hunters

—Personal mantra: "Your vessel is beautiful."


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