Staying active in times of crisis is always hard, and being bored does not exactly scream let’s go exercise. On a similar note, with everything that’s going on right now, it’s hard to find a place to work out effectively and many routines are being thrown off. In Urbana, locally owned Amara Yoga & Arts Studio is doing something to help their customers and anyone else interested in starting yoga.

To help combat the stress of all that’s going on and continue to promote yoga practice, Amara is transitioning to online classes. At this moment, there is one class offered from ten to eleven every weekday with the hopeful addition of another evening class coming soon. This current class being offered is a beginner level workout that is meant to work your whole body. If they are successful with this new teaching medium, the later class will be a more advanced course for more people experienced with yoga. There are several instructors teaching these classes, but all of them are very helpful. Amara is dedicated to keeping its studio running and continuing to grow its members’ strength. 

Amara is an Urbana studio owned by the Pierson family. Luna, the youngest of the family, was able to talk a bit about their transition to online classes in a personal interview.

“We had to quickly find out what our next step was,” Pierson states.

“One of our amazing teachers, Asher Lafond, actually was the first to hit the ground running and post a live video of her teaching a class on our Instagram and Facebook feed. I think it was within a day or two,” Pierson recalls. Lafond has been experimenting with virtual yoga for a while in her personal career, but when Amara closed its doors, she brought it more to their attention. 

“It was free for about a week to everyone, and that’s when I kind of came in,” she laughs and elaborates, “we need to think of this from a business standpoint and we can make sure that the studio is still having some sort of revenue.”

Many small businesses are feeling the effects of the community shut down right now. Pierson notes, “We still have to pay our bill and obviously, that’s what all small businesses are dealing with right now.” 

Pierson said that she saw several places in Los Angeles that had started using Zoom to continue teaching. Pierson called a studio that she is close to out there to get some advice about starting it up online for Amara. It seemed as though they had been fairly successful so Pierson set up the zoom account.

At first, it is easy to be skeptical. Trying new things and integrating different technology is always hard especially because there was no training period to allow for a learning curve. The instructors have taken this on very smoothly and have made it incredibly easy for people to sign up. By going to their Facebook page (linked below), you can find the link to sign up. From here, a user signs up for their desired class and is directed to the normal route for payment. Each class is ten dollars and Amara is attempting to pay their instructors the same rates that they had been for each class they teach. “You know, part of this is the teachers no longer have work and we want to try to support our teachers,” Pierson says.

After signing up, an email will come inviting you to the Zoom meeting. To use Zoom, you can go to their website and download the app to any device. At the selected time, a participant just has to open the app, type in the pin listed in their email, and enjoy the class. The instructor will mute the audio for the students and begin the class from here. If that time doesn’t work or you want to watch again, a link will be sent out afterword in an email for students to watch the class for the next twenty-four hours. 

“The tools of yoga are even more necessary in times of crisis,” Pierson continues. All in all, the community is doing a lot to get everyone through this time and there is lots of support coming from local businesses. The responsibility to keep businesses afloat falls onto the community and the support has exceeded expectations. 

In closing, Pierson notes “It’s been a learning process for sure, but we are feeling a bit more comfortable now that we are getting a bit of income. I think the biggest thing we’ve learned from this is that everyone is so supportive of this small business. I think everyone is really appreciating any way they can get yoga into their lives. People have been donating, un-suspending their memberships, and just being really wonderful. So, that’s definitely the biggest takeaway. We have, I hope, figured it out.”

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