In March, I assumed that “in person” classes would resume by early summer. In July, I was still leery about fall, but added one studio class at the Yoga Space to my Zoom schedule.
Now I’m convinced that pre-Covid yoga classes won’t return for a long time. Sure, studios and community centres have reopened. But the current class model has transformed. It’s nothing like the scene shown above—at a workshop that I attended in 2018 with senior Iyengar yoga teacher Chris Saudek.
Today, class size is capped at about 10 students. Props are limited, sometimes only to mats. Cleaning protocols are strictly enforced. Class schedules are pared down. Students must register for a session advance; no drop-ins.
Publicly funded community centres can probably survive such changes, but small, indie studios are struggling. The Yoga Space, Vancouver’s largest Iyengar yoga studio, where I’ve long taught three classes, is permanently closing in December. Rent and other expenses were already daunting before Covid; now there’s little incentive for yoga teachers to fund brick-and-mortar studios.
Many of my regular students have embraced “Zoom yoga” because it’s safe, convenient, and interactive (I’m still the same teacher, and I can still see and correct you!). Others say that they’re waiting for normal classes to return. Well, that won’t happen for months, probably a year, maybe never. Will the vaccines work? When will they be available? Can Covid be eradicated when it’s already so widespread? These are open questions.
Think realistically about your yoga plans going forth. Like it or not, Zoom is currently our most reliable option.
Image: Chris Saudek workshop, Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria, September 2018.