During this time of quarantine and practicing social distancing, we all had to drastically change our routines. We especially miss activities that help us stay healthy and calm, like yoga classes. The status of what is allowed and what is not is constantly evolving in the face of the coronavirus threat, but luckily many great yoga teachers have got their students to watch and take a deep breath all over zoom and even through everything outside.
Jen Shannon has been teaching Kripalu Yoga at Wellfleet Preservation Hall for several years. In times when there is no pandemic, she teaches in the hall twice a week all year round. The courses vary in size depending on the season. She started teaching about Zoom early in the shutdown and teaches her two yoga classes per week along with a monthly Yin Yoga Nidra workshop through Quiet Mind Studio. She said she had an average of 16 people per class, more than she would normally have seen in the off-season.
“It was an adaptation to teach that way,” she says. “When I teach it’s usually a combination of walking around doing yoga and tuning into the energy of the class, but I can’t. I encourage people to tune in and take care of their bodies and not do anything that hurts. I call it “gentle plus”. That way it sure is different and some adjustments have been made, but I’m getting caught in a flow and it’s very good. Everyone misses it personally, but people are pretty happy. “
Shannon said a bonus has been summer residents who usually have to wait to be in Wellfleet to take their summer classes. You could do them right from home, wherever that may be.
“People are from Martha’s Vineyard, New York and Boston,” she says.
Shannon says she probably doesn’t plan on teaching in person until December.
“I’ll do this for the long term,” she says. “I teach yoga and meditation to help people live happier and healthier lives. I don’t want to take any chances of someone getting sick, so I’m sticking with it. “
She offers her Zoom courses for free and asks attendees to donate to the Wellfleet Preservation Hall or Quiet Mind Studio in Wellfleet instead.
Stefan Piscitelli, who owns Outermost Yoga in Provincetown, had a robust yoga business prior to COVID-19. He rented space at the Schoolhouse Center, the home of WOMR, but when the station went virtual and temporarily closed its doors during the pandemic, Outermost Yoga lost its home.
“We were in our fourth year at the Old Schoolhouse and it was hard financially when the building closed,” says Piscitelli. “We had at least two lessons a day and I had six other instructors. I started it myself in 2017 and took it to the next level last year. “
Like so many small business owners who had gotten into this crisis, Piscitelli had to work out a Plan B very quickly. And C. Piscitelli also started a cake shop called “Sissy Pies” as a sideline.
“As soon as the time came, I went online and taught exclusively online for two and a half months,” he says.
But as the weather got better and some restrictions began to loosen, another opportunity arose.
“I got a call from Jill Botway at Boatslip Resort and since they weren’t going to have tea dances there this summer, she wondered if I would like yoga classes on deck there,” he says. “The deck is 10,000 square feet, it’s outside and there’s always an ocean breeze blowing, so it feels very safe.”
Now, Piscitelli offers meditation and yoga every morning seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on the Boatslip deck at 161 Commercial Street. Classes are $ 20 or $ 15 if you buy a 10-class pass.
“It was really a great turnout,” he says. “There are views of the harbor when the sun comes up, it’s beautiful. I’ve always wanted to build a big yoga community out here. It was very difficult not to have a home. It’s such an important element in building a business, but we will continue to do so. “
For Wellfleet’s Emma Doyle, she has welcomed the opportunity to teach remotely and sees herself that way for the foreseeable future. She runs her classes on Zoom through Piscitelli’s Outermost Yoga website and also has a few private clients she works with along with Zoom and FaceTime.
“While I miss the sense of community and shared experience of an in-studio class, the practice of yoga itself is so personal that switching to online classes and home practice during this time is an obvious step,” says Doyle. “The transmission of the virus through aerosols makes me so suspicious of being in a room with people who are actively breathing more forcefully and steadily. So I plan to teach online for the foreseeable future. I know that it is difficult for some people not to have the routine of going to a studio, but developing a home practice requires a certain level of intrinsic motivation. This inner desire is already of the greatest importance for a lifelong practice. So what better time to develop it than when we are forced to? “
Doyle says the practices about Zoom brought her and her students closer in many ways.
“Every week, before and after class, we have some time when people show each other their dogs, babies, and living rooms,” she says. “I’ve met spouses and family members of students. That way, it’s almost more intimate. It removes the illusion of the ‘omniscient teacher’ as most of us only find out as we walk. “
She says people shouldn’t think they need all kinds of equipment to get started, a mat, maybe it is about some yoga blocks that aren’t expensive. She says being creative is key. Doyle’s classes are made through donation (via Venmo @emmajdoyle).
“For me as a teacher, it was initially a change. I’ve always been careful about being on video as it reinforces the idea that yoga has to look a certain way, but over time my students have developed the ability to just listen to my voice and start talking to me from the inside To move sensation, ”she says. “I don’t know when I’ll be back teaching public classes, and I imagine the yoga world as a whole is going to have to go through some big changes, but I’m optimistic that the practice of yoga itself will survive any pandemic. ”
If you want to participate::
To the Jen Shannon Visit: Wellfleetpreservationhall.org or quietmindstudio.com
Stefan Piscitelli and Emma Doyle you can find both at outermostyoga.com