Yukon yoga takes a hit

The pandemic has been hard on people’s practice

At the core of each person is a light of pure joy and innocence; an energy beyond words.
Yoga is the journey of reconnecting with that light. Living Yoga is the practice of living each moment in harmony with your true self. In the Yukon, yoga has traditionally been offered via group classes facilitated by a trained yoga teacher who offers personal tips and hands-on assistance if requested. Individual contractors also conducted one-on-one classes and group classes for organizations.

However, in March of 2020, there was a lockdown on most personal services and public facilities, including yoga studios. Unfortunately, like the rest of North America, this was a death sentence for some studios, such as Breath of Life. I had been a Karma Yogi at Breath of Life since its inception. I substitute-taught vinyasa classes and community yoga offerings the last two years. I spoke with Dani Kluane of Trauma Sensitive Yoga Yukon, and Sheila MacLean of Rooted Tree Massage and Yoga to see how COVID-19 has affected their business and was surprised to find that there were a lot of positives.

Kluane is an independent contractor who runs Trauma Sensitive Yoga Yukon. She works with Yukon Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC). Because of COVID-19 she was unable to conduct classes from March to July of 2020. She was able to resume classes in July with a few modifications. The effects on her classes were fairly neutral.
“Trauma sensitive yoga is very compatible with COVID protocols because there are no physical assists,” she says. “Generally, the facilitator stays on their own mat throughout the practice so you are really staying in your own bubble anyway.”

The main modifications that were implemented were the facilitator wearing a face mask, ensuring that yoga mats were spaced according to COVID-19 protocols, and assigning a set of props to each client. The only negative impact was that some of the new programming was starting to gain momentum and the temporary shut-down put a hold on that. The positive thing is that she was able to continue with important programming through the pandemic.

“People continue to need mental health supports, people continue to need treatment. People in WCC and in treatment continue to need additional programming that supports their healing and their wellness.”

Kluane is grateful that yoga facilitation was prioritized in the Yukon, but sad that other studios have been shut down. She’s interested to see what the evolution of yoga will be post COVID-19. Rooted Tree, for example, went online during the shutdown in March. MacLean’s love and passion for yoga has led her to continue to offer six morning classes a week. Profits from the online classes are donated to a different charity each month. You can drop in for $9 per class, or sign up for an unlimited monthly pass for $20. MacLean decided to stick with her massage therapy and one-on-one yoga session for this time. She acknowledges that the yoga community has taken some blows but she’s excited to see where the Yukon ends up.

“I have learned so much about myself. To slow down. To soften. To breathe,” she says. Perhaps lessons that many of have learned during the pandemic.

I have been teaching yoga since 2015 but, because of COVID-19, I was able to finally get my full yoga certification online this past summer. However, when I tried to find a place to teach in the fall, I found that in-person public yoga classes were almost non-existent. I’m currently facilitating a restorative vinyasa remix via Zoom every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. It’s been an amazing experience that has allowed me to connect with people from across the country, including my friends and family. Accessibility is the leading value in my yoga practice, so I offer a class using props and offering multiple modifications for each individual’s physicality. I also believe strongly in economic accessibility. Yoga can be expensive, but is so beneficial for physical, emotional and mental well-being. Everyone gets to try their first class for free. After that, classes are by donation.

Overall, the pandemic has caused many changes to yoga in the Yukon, what it will be in the future still remains to be seen.

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