HELENA — It’s been about 10 months since yoga studios, gyms, and other small business owners were told to shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to slow the spread of the deadly virus.
In order for small business owners to retain clients and continue to offer services, many began to get a little creative and offered virtual classes which grew in popularity in 2020, compared to 2019.
Nicky Twitchell, who is the owner of Hot Yoga Helena is an example of one of the many small business owners in Montana who have had to get a little creative to keep clients engaged, both virtually and back in the studio with tighter restrictions.
We shouldn’t forget that small business owners have carried the stress and managed the pressure to keep the doors open for their clients and offer a continued payday for employees.
Twitchell says she has put her employees first, offering them a raise during the pandemic, while she hasn’t had the ability to pay herself for several months.
Montanans have also had to adapt to changes in 2020, when it came to their workout plan, which can be expected to carry over into 2021.
“We are 10 feet apart, we wear our masks until class starts, and sometimes people wear the masks for class, I have worn my mask for a 90-minute class to test it out, it’s actually okay,” Twitchell said.
Yoga isn’t just a workout, students are called 'practitioners' because during each class they are learning a discipline: physical, mental and spiritual practices.
This is going back to the root of Yoga, which is based off Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, all of which are considered spiritual or religious practices originating from India.
For true practitioners, having a yoga class is more than just a once a week time to burn a little fat or break a sweat, this is a religious lifestyle.
A traditional yoga class starts with lying on the ground, a deep breath, an intention is set for the practice (meaning the class) then as a group, a series of poses are made throughout the class.
The poses allow the body to become more flexible and open chakras in the body, according to yoga practices.
It’s important that practitioners do the poses correctly or they could injure themselves. In the past an instructor would walk around the room and touch or correct a practitioner, however in 2020, they had to adapt.
Through Zoom, “teachers are looking at you and offering modifications, amplifications, to your practice, we say your name, we want you to feel like you are getting the value of having a private teacher in a group setting,” Twitchell said.
Additionally, going virtual has also added positive benefits, such as instructors not having to be physically in Montana.
“We’ve got Michael teaching from the Bahamas, a world-class Iyengar mat teacher, we’ve got Leslie from New York City,” she said.
Pre-pandemic, Montanans would only have access to their classes if they were in town.
Twitchell offers the advice, for Montanans going forward to create a space in your home that is just for your yoga, she also says that she offers consulting for anyone who is having trouble achieving creating a space.
A third option, for those that do not want to go physically to class or join in on Zoom from home, is a private room with infrared light at an annex building which is a block down from the studio, is also available.
Practicing social distance, wearing a mask, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, and Zoom work-outs will carry over into the new year.