Yoga studios are preparing for massive changes as they begin to reopen. As mandatory lockdowns are lifted, students and teachers are all eager to return to their home studios. But with the threat of a second wave hanging in the air, studio owners are proceeding with caution. Post-Covid yoga studio reopening- what changes can we expect?
Just months ago, taking a yoga class felt like one of the healthiest things you could do for your mind and body. But now, many are concerned that heading to a gym or studio could actually put them at risk for contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus.
Could a teacher accidentally spread the virus through hands on assists? Could a student exhale and spread droplets through pranayama? One thing is for certain, studios won’t look or feel the way they used to for quite some time.
Below are some changes you can expect to see the next time you hit the studio to take class:
Many studios are preparing to open with a limited class schedule. Pre-COVID, your studio may have had back to back classes in the mornings and evenings. But now, studios will have to allow time to disinfect the entire space in between each class.
The CDC also has limits to how many people can be in common areas at a time. So even if your studio has several rooms, they may have to space out classes to ensure there aren’t too many people checking in for class at once.
But even with a limited class schedule, reopening will require much more work than before for studios. Samantha Bellerson, studio manager of Evolution Yoga Las Vegas, has hired on several additional front desk staff to take on the task.
“Our goal is to keep our studio warm and friendly and still take all the steps and precautions to keep our staff and clients safe. We will be having at least two staff members on every shift for taking temperatures, checking in, cleaning and helping clients stay compliant with the guidelines that have been set for the studio. “
Yoga teachers and students alike will miss the energy of flowing and breathing together in a big group. Now, class sizes will remain small to maintain a minimum boundary of six feet between each student.
This may look somewhat different from state to state as laws vary. But expect to see lots of empty space – even in classes that used to pack the house.
One benefit of these small class sizes is that every student will be seen. Teachers will be able to easily spot everyone’s alignment and give verbal cues to help students get the most out of each asana.
Another benefit for hot yogis is that you’ll no longer step into a wet spot heading out of class and have to wonder whether that was spilled water or someone’s sweat puddle. With all the space between mats, the only sweat you could possibly step into is your own.
Because of the limited class sizes, reservations will be required to ensure studios won’t have to turn students away at the door. Some studios may allow waitlists in case of cancellations. Some may charge fees for no-shows.
Expect to sign up for your favorite classes in advance – and to arrive on time so your spot isn’t given away to someone on the waitlist.
Owner of Yoga hOMe in Pompano Beach, Florida, Corbin Stacy, compares his experience with reopening to working in the airline industry.
“Yoga hOMe® 2.0 was a hard reset for us! We worked diligently with the Pompano Citi Centre, the City of Pompano Beach, our advisory board, and staff to keep everyone safe and healthy throughout the world pandemic. We kept our community close and were able to grow our tribe even bigger through the power of technology and complementary social media. Our procedures now look exactly like my past life in the aviation industry. Think ticket-less travel, boarding procedures, stowing of your luggage, maintaining social distancing. We call it the “Yoga hOMe® Experience” which is a spin-off of 14 years delivering “The jetBlue® Experience!”
Bring your own gear. Studios will no longer be able to rent out or lend props to students. Props like yoga blankets and bolsters are difficult and time consuming to disinfect. Even smaller props like blocks just wouldn’t feel safe to share.
As a student, it’s important to invest in your own props now and bring them with you to class. If you haven’t purchased a yoga mat for yourself yet, now is the time to do so.
Teachers will have to challenge themselves to teach with as few props as possible – or at least give options for those without props.
Studios that once offered aerial yoga may be forced to remove those classes from their schedule completely. Aerial silks are difficult to wash and rehang and it likely won’t be an option to do between every use for most studios.
The days of squeezing your mat into a small space just before class begins are long gone.
Expect to see tape or other markers on the floor to designate spaces for yoga mats.
Energetically, things will feel different. But in time, we will get used to this new normal. Someday, these measures may not even be necessary anymore. Though it seems they are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Studios will be required to disinfect the room in between each and every use. This will include the floors, door knobs, light switches, and any commonly touched surfaces.
If a studio does opt to allow some props, those will be disinfected between every use.
Studios will need to staff more people than usual to fill the higher cleaning demands. And with fewer classes, fewer students, and more people on payroll – studios can certainly expect to see a huge hit to their bottom line.
With so many big changes coming to the yoga industry, it’s unclear whether or not things will ever be the same. Luckily yoga gives us the patience, strength, and grace to get through anything. And just like everything else, we will get through it together.
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