Online yoga classes strikes right pose for times

Ruby Zulkowski, owner and lead instructor of Shakti Yoga, leads an online class. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Like most small business owners, Ruby Zulkowski was concerned what would happen to her during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The owner and lead instructor of Shakti Yoga LLC in Dover thought she might lose clients. Instead, she started doing online classes and gained clients.

“The fact that anybody did that was amazing,” Ms. Zulkowski said. “People are turning to yoga and meditation in these times. We got seven new members. That fact kind of speaks for itself.”

Delaware’s yoga studios have closed their doors to in-person sessions but they are offering virtual classes for those looking to relax while stuck at home during the current pandemic.

“Yoga does not only benefit your physical body but also your mental health,” said Cristina Colón, co-owner of Tula Yoga & Reiki Professionals in Dover. “Right now, more than ever, people need to de-stress. If you’re inside all day you can experience depression or anxiety. Your immune system can be weakened. The biggest gift is peace of mind and you will have a greater sense of peace of mind if you take on a yoga practice.”

Anoma Newman, the other co-owner of Tula Yoga & Reiki Professionals, said isolation is the best time to try something new like yoga or mediation online to relax.

“It takes away the intimidation of starting something new,” “Ms. Newman said. “You get to try it on your own time at your own pace.”

Shakti Yoga has three live yoga classes a week over Zoom video conferncing and three meditation classes. Even if someone is not a member they can still join if they provide a donation.

The classes are uploaded to a library for those who can’t make the live version or anyone who wants to do the workout again at another time. The library is refreshed each week.

Ms. Zulkowski said it’s about a 50-50 split on those who prefer live classes versus those who prefer to check in whenever it is convenient for them. She started teaching yoga in 2016 and began with online classes before opening the studio to patrons in Dover.

That online experience helped make the transition back to virtual classes easier.

“We had to create a new business plan overnight or else we would’ve shut down,” Ms. Zulkowski said. “We were very lucky no one canceled or left. We have an amazing client base.”

Tula Yoga & Reiki Professionals is running a new student special for its virtual classes — $45 for 30 days.

The online option has allowed new clients to sign up who normally wouldn’t have time, such as members of the military who travel often. Plus, the regular clients are still there every day.

“They’re still showing up just as if it was class in the studio,” Ms. Newman said.

Tula Yoga & Reiki Professionals originally began using Facebook Live when it first shifted to virtual classes. But now its using a streaming program called Mindbody Live.

“We’ve been relentless in finding the best platform for our classes,” said Ms. Colón. “We wanted to make sure that it’s the best platform with the video quality and sound.”

While the virtual classes have helped keep the clients and instructors connected, everyone is eager to return to the studio. The hope for most yoga studios is to open June 1, at a limited capacity, when Delaware enters the first phase of reopening.

The guidelines by Gov. John Carney restrict gyms and studios to 30 percent fire code occupancy during phase one with no more than 10 people allowed in a class.

Both Tula Yoga & Reiki Professionals and Shakti Yoga said outdoor classes are a possibility during their reopening. This will allow more space for the mandatory six feet of social distancing when classes do resume. The studios will follow strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Ms. Zulkowski is hopeful things can be back to normal in the summer. She has scheduled a music and yoga festival called Ohmfest Aug. 29-30 at the Akridge Scout Reservation in Dover.

And in the meantime, if anyone is thinking about starting yoga as the state continues to social distance, she says don’t hold back.

“If you’re interested, just go for it,” Ms. Zulkowski said. “Don’t let anything stop you. Most of the time, it’s a weird fear that stops us. But we’re all home right now and you can kind of be vulnerable.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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