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How Area Yoga Studios Are Handling Reopening

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire How Area Yoga Studios Are Handling ReopeningStill need a mask for yoga? Area yoga studios talk reopening. Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels.
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“As a hospital nurse and yoga studio owner, I never ever imagined a year like this,” sighs Aimee Pruitt, of Radiant Yoga and Wellness in Worthington which promptly closed when she noticed COVID-19 cases coming into the hospital. “I wanted everyone in my yoga and other community to be safe.”

Since Governor DeWine announced on May 12, 2021 that all health restrictions in Ohio will lift effective June 2nd and the CDC announced that people vaccinated against COVID-19 virus may go without masks in many cases, Columbus yoga studios have been polling staff and students and many have changed their COVID-19 safety polices. Yoga patrons, some of whom are health care providers have been having many discussions about what to do as well.

Yoga On High, Modo Yoga, GIVE Yoga, Bikram Hot Yoga Columbus, and Rise Yoga in Grove City are among many Columbus-area yoga studios who have announced that masks are no longer required indoors.

Debra Penzone, philanthropist and owner of LIT Life + Yoga, said they are permitting students who “are vaccinated and feel comfortable, to remove masks when practicing, but we are not expanding class sizes at this time.”  LIT is also continuing online classes and offering outdoor LIT AIR Aerial yoga classes.

Align Power Yoga specifically announced that masks are no longer required for their vaccinated students and staff.

On May 17, 2021 Yoga on High announced “effective immediately, we are no longer requiring staff, teachers our clients to wear a mask. We we will not ask or disclose the vaccination status of staff and members. We kindly ask everyone to respect the privacy of others in the studio.” Julie Perich, owner of Yoga On High, confirmed that YoHi is no longer requiring masks indoors and that higher-touch classes such as Aerial Yoga are back on the schedule. On June 2nd, Yoga on High will be revisiting class sizes when the COVID-19 restrictions drop per Governor DeWine’s May 12th announcement.

GIVE Yoga owner, Leah Westwater, said “We are following the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health’s latest update on mask wearing. We are adding classes to the schedule on a rolling basis. We are looking forward to doubling studio capacities on June 2 to accommodate more practitioners.”

Already on Sunday, May 23, 2021 popular yoga teacher, Andy King had a nearly sold-out class with no masks present. Yoga student and teacher Lisa Link Phillips felt totally comfortable in the class as she was fully vaccinated. “It was my first time practicing in a yoga studio since the ‘Rona. A great feeling!”

Chad Underwood, owner of Modo Yoga, said “We are going to follow CDC and ODH guidelines beginning June 1 and not require masks indoors for anyone who has been vaccinated.”

Amber Phillips of Rise Yoga announced the end of their mask mandate and that, “We respect personal choice and are here to support.”

Most studios are relying on vaccinated students to be on the honor system.

Some studio owners and students are being more cautious, for example, Angie Never of Sacred Shimmy who has suffered from COVID since a trip to New Orleans in early March 2020.

“Taking precautions is super serious for me,” says Never, “I can’t have this type of trouble again just because of a yoga class.” Never requires everyone who wants to attend an in-person class to send her a vaccination card, and she is continuing masking and limited class sizes in the studio. “I am just not fooling around with this virus.”

Ellen Reidy of Zen Yoga and some other studios in Columbus are electing a middle path for now. Reidy said her policy is masks on until you’re on your mat and continuing six feet distance for a while. “I don’t care about packing the studio; I want some safety,” she says.

At the time of this writing, CorePower Yoga in Columbus is continuing their masks in the studio practices. Ashtanga Yoga Columbus is keeping teachers masked for the time being.

Taylor Hunt, owner of AYC, “As things continue to change, we will, too.”

Danja Yoga on Oak Street actually opened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Daniel Sernicola says, “There is so much to consider. We would love to be at full capacity, but we want our staff and students to be safe.” Danja Yoga has a state-of-the art HVAC system much like the Yoga Six studios in UA and Dublin that provides  higher filtration and air exchanges.

Yoga teachers and students have mixed feelings and thoughts. “I am not ready to attend an in person yoga class,” said professional yoga teacher and student, Joyce Eubanks.

“I feel that my unvaccinated children have been forgotten,”said long-time Astanga practitioner and mother of two, Betsy Gambone. “I am leery that people will be honest about being vaccinated and  remove their masks regardless! Although I have the vaccine, I still don’t want to be within 6 feet of someone who doesn’t.”

Long-time yoga student and healthcare attorney Susan Sullivan said, “I do not feel comfortable going to any indoor class at a studio that requires neither a mask, nor a vaccination.”

On the other hand, pediatrician and dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Dr. Mary Beth Niland is comfortable with practicing in person given her vaccination status. She also said, “In my experience, as a general primary care pediatrician, most young children who have COVID-19 have caught it from an infected older sibling or adult in the home. Now, all of them [12 years and older] have the ability to be vaccinated. I think we as adults need to do our part to get vaccinated to protect those around us who cannot yet get the vaccine. I think there will be people who are vaccinated who still maintain mask wearing in spaces where they don’t know all the humans around them and that is a fine approach to take. I don’t think it’s too soon if people behave honestly and stay home if they’re sick with anything. It’s basic ahimsa.”

Many other Columbus-area yoga studio owners are hopeful for a future of full classes and safe communities. Check studio websites as conditions are ever-changing, and also note that there are many outdoor and online options this Summer.

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