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Yoga teachers stretch their skills to keep in touch

Yoga teacher Natanya Ruth of Plymouth created a full menu of online yoga offerings after the COVID-19 restrictions went into effect.
Yoga teacher Natanya Ruth of Plymouth created a full menu of online yoga offerings after the COVID-19 restrictions went into effect.Korin Krossber/Revel + Nest Photography

Stuck at home in the time of COVID-19, yoga practitioners miss the feel-good benefits of their yoga classes. They miss components of yogic practice such as meditation, conscious breathing, chanting mantras, and other self-soothing techniques.

Even in ordinary times, many look forward to the relaxing, mind-cleansing break in the workweek provided by a regular yoga class. Given the radical changes in daily routines and social restrictions required to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, they may need that break even more.

In response, yoga teachers such as Natanya Ruth of Plymouth have transformed their businesses from the face-to-face arena of the yoga studio to an online connection offering an increasingly large array of services

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Before the epidemic, between teaching classes, running a business, and offering private counseling sessions, Ruth said she didn’t always find time to tend to the virtual side of her service.

“But now,” she said, “in this moment you have to do it. It’s a kick in the butt. You need to have an online presence for your business to work. . . . When it all came down I started offering Zoom sessions on Sunday, March 15.”

She live-streamed a scheduled yoga class on one of the last days when classes were still permitted at her Buzzards Bay studio. From there, she quickly expanded, relying on social media and the website she developed for The Clearing, her business. As restrictions on gatherings increased, and all but “essential” businesses were ordered to close their doors, she posted classes on Facebook and Instagram, including short messages on meditation and other practical yogic techniques for managing stress.

In an e-mail to her community of students, friends, and other contacts, Ruth described her online offerings this way: “I’m hosting a bunch of community events and courses to help you ground, release, dance, laugh, and connect with your friends and family while staying safe and healthy.”

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Earlier this month Ruth led a virtual "full moon women's circle," a ritual involving dance and movement and chanting mantras.

In mid-April, The Clearing began offering a four-week virtual wellness course that includes daily meditation practice videos, a brief “dharma talk” on life’s journey, a visualization technique, and other services that clients will receive in their inbox.

Videos of these sessions will continue to be available online, so that people can start the course at any time. In addition, Ruth is offering weekly private coaching sessions over Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype.

As a member of an industry group that includes 2,700 yoga studio owners, Ruth said most yoga teachers and their studios are keeping up with the trend toward virtual teaching and have created classes on Zoom, YouTube, and Vimeo.

“Studios like mine keep the community connected,” she said. In a time of digital commerce, she added, when “the world is so much smaller” and consumers have so many choices, small businesses need to know what’s going on.

She said she misses the face-to-face interaction with clients, but she’s definitely busy.

Building up her video presence means “a lot more sitting at my computer” but also “a lot less driving. I’m finding new ways to connect. And I’m learning a ton,” Ruth said.

For more information, go to www.theclearingyoga.com.

Robert Knox can be reached at rc.knox2@gmail.com.