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Online Yoga Classes in Columbus Seeing Success Amid COVID-19

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire Online Yoga Classes in Columbus Seeing Success Amid COVID-19Stacie McCool of BlueSpot Yoga getting ready to lead an online class.
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If it weren’t for classes every night with Flux+Flow, I would be going mad,” says Slate advice columnist and OSU professor, Michelle Herman.

In the 4 weeks, since Governor DeWine closed gyms and yoga studios, area studios have moved online in big way and local students such as Herman have been eagerly following them.

“Lots of interesting learning these last few weeks with a tremendous amount of work to get things set up,” notes Marcia Miller, co-owner of Yoga on High.“We do have lots of our students coming to class and expressing gratitude that we can be together in that way.”

“It’s been pretty incredible how the community has come together and asked ‘how can I help?’” Staci McCool of Bluespot Yoga in Bexley says, “The majority of people have continued their memberships and tune in to our online classes – it’s pretty magical.” Bluespot has created videos and even done a handstand workshop on Zoom.

“We are very grateful to be able to share yoga in this way with the community. I feel that those committed to continuing their yoga and meditation practice at home will experience a deepened and expanded level of practice and presence that will support them through this pandemic and beyond,” says Leah Westwater of GIVE Yoga. She recently received a grant from Lululemon to help keep the studio going.

“We are offering livestream classes only – not recorded classes,” she says. “We believe that the interaction and connection that happens during a livestream class is crucial during this time of isolation. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces and know that you are practicing and connecting with others.”

Burgendie Miceli of Yoga Happiness holds online classes to connect with her Columbus fans. Photo by Nancy Alkire.

The online classes have been better than expected for many studios. Namaste in Love owner, Trish Hoffman, who created a mirror of their physical class schedule free for members and only a $10 drop in guests, says “We are to say proud that we are continuing to pay our instructors, we have had new clients join us from across the globe, we have created an online system that we will continue after this and we are helping others during a critical time in need.”

Zen Yoga’s Ellen Eilers notes that Zen’s online yoga program has been very successful, “We’ve had people join from all over the state, country, and even world – as one of my students moved to Wales and has been joining. I will absolutely be keeping some for of our classes online as an option in the future.”  Zen now offers sliding scale fees for drop-in yoga from $1 to $10.

During this time of crisis and generosity, some yoga studios such as GIVE Yoga and Modo Yoga are putting memberships on pause and not charging the usual monthly fees.  Studios such as Heartfelt and V-Power are offering reduced class passes for future use. Many studios using the MindBody scheduling system have created reduced rates for the online programs using. Studios on MindBody such as GIVE, Modo and REWILD Yoga are doing Facebook videos and even Instagram programs. 

The owners of GoYoga have gone a different route and created an online library of classes through Vimeo and a members group on Facebook.  “Because we are very heavily members-based, this felt like the right thing to do – essentially creating a full virtual studio for our members where they can both practice live and access past live classes in the archives. We have nearly 50 classes on there,” says founder and co-owner Alissa Rogers.

GoYoga also has free Facebook and Instagram classes as well. “We will definitely continue to offer digital classes beyond this,” says Rogers. “I think it’s a wonderful option for those times people can’t make it into the studio. I believe it will help support people in having a more regular and well-rounded practice!”

Also taking advantage of Facebook members’ pages have been individual teachers such as:

Liz Baldridge
Joanie Delph
Sarah Solarnik
Kelly Sodergren
and Abi Wright

Daniel Sernicola of Danja Yoga has gone digital with Facebook videos of his Cbus famous ‘Yoga for Athletes’ — as well as working with Take Back the Night on a series to deal with trauma.  “I am just so happy when I can pay forward and give back!” says Sernicola.  

The newest Columbus studio, REWILD Yoga had been open less than 3 months, when the order to close came.  Owner Steve Kocsis set about creating videos in true REWILD-style to upload on YouTube.

 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCul0glsnRQ9K4IzZivTSVPQ

“Also we are occasionally doing zoom. To get our YouTube classes you just subscribe to our link,” says  Kocsis.  Another new studio, Align Power Yoga has gone to video and is offering a 40-day challenge based on a program from Baron Baptiste.  

Online yoga classes are for all ages, too!  Columbus’ Youth Yoga Project has content on their YouTube Channel.  They have age-specific yoga practices as well as mindfulness exercises for kids.  Zen Yoga’s Kaleema Poles is creating kid friendly yoga with the help of her family at home (see photo).  Many other studios are doing family-fun activities, too.  

Radiant Yoga is kicking off their entry into online yoga with a concert by local musicians, The Bhakti Mamas, on Friday, May 1, 2020 at 7PM. The owner of Radiant Yoga is a nurse, so she has been very, very busy recently.  Starting Saturday, May 2nd, Radiant will have a full line-up of online yoga with Stephine Estice, Laura Lampe and Marina Zahran along with other regular teachers.  Sign up via the website.

Most yoga studios are looking forward to re-opening later this Spring 2020.  Optimistic but realistic, Modo Yoga owner, Chad Underwood says, “Whenever we reopen our doors, that doesn’t mean we’re back to normal.  We’re likely going to have to reopen with a reduced schedule, reduced class capacities, and other precautions to ease our way back to normalcy.  But we’re staying positive, continuing to try to engage our community virtually, and using this opportunity to spruce the studio up.”

While nothing can really replace a live yoga class, there are many wonderful opportunities for yoga online from our local Columbus yoga teachers. Hopes are high for a return of live studios soon.

“Ultimately, when we return to the studios and tap into the power of communal energy, our practice will feel more grounded, inspired and free,” says Leah Westwater of GIVE Yoga.

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