When Maggie Duan’s yoga business collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto resident didn’t go out of shape.
Like many small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Duan had to mix it up. Instead of offering in-person yoga classes, Duan now offers online yoga classes for adults and children through Zoom (YogaTime).
In addition, Duan went a step further and created a “double donation plan” to understand the economic and emotional difficulties many people are going through due to the lockdowns. Essentially, people can join an online yoga session with Duan, and the 30-year-old donates 50% of the fee to the Daily Bread Food Bank and the United Way of Greater Toronto.
And for frontline workers, Duan offers free online courses. It’s a way to give something back to your adopted country. She believes yoga can help people who are under stress and looking for spiritual satisfaction.
“I understand (the pandemic) affected everyone in different ways, especially children,” said the Tianjin-born Chinese woman who immigrated to Canada to reunite with her father. “There are many people who really need help, like the homeless and low-income families.”
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In these unprecedented times, life is difficult for everyone, especially newcomers who have to start over after arriving in a new country. Duan earned a degree in broadcast journalism in China and a postgraduate diploma in sports journalism from Centennial College. After graduating from the Centennial Program, she got an internship at OMNI Television. Unfortunately, after her internship program ended, there were no more vacancies as the journalism jobs continued to disappear.
“I left there and had the opportunity to work as a freelancer / local sports correspondent writing and translating sports news for the media in China. It was a great experience for me, ”said Duan. “In the meantime, I worked in various professions – food court, cashier… I worked in a bakery on weekends from 10 am to 9 pm. No weekends free for two years. And there was an opportunity to teach Mandarin for an after-school program. “
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Duan started taking yoga classes in 2009 and finally received her first teaching certificate in 2016. Last June, Duan started her own company, YogaTime, which specializes in yoga for children and pre- and postpartum yoga – all while volunteering at The United Way and, more recently, The Children’s Aid Society.
It is clear that Duan will not let the COVID-19 crisis stop her from realizing her dreams and helping others in need.
“The life I (in Canada) built after all these years of hard work suddenly fell,” she said. “But I’m a tough person and I won’t get hit.”