When was the first time you heard about Covid-19, and what was your initial reaction? Did it have any bearing on your yoga practice at the time?

I started becoming aware of Covid-19 at the beginning of March 2020. The salon I work at was forced to close. Initially, I believed it would be a two-week closure; however, we all know it ended up being six months. At the time, I had been dedicating my weekday mornings to Bikram classes and private classes with a yoga mentor weekly. One of my biggest challenges during the shut down was losing the ability to practice in the Bikram Yoga San Jose studio. Losing the near-daily ritual I’d been practicing for two years was immense because, like my fellow yogis, I depend on Bikram Yoga for my physical and mental health.

BYSJ closed the studio on March 16 and immediately started up an online presence with some Zoom classes and a Facebook group called BYSJ Everywhere. The group kept members together with live breathing each day, a back-bending challenge, and lots of conversation about the yoga that we don’t usually get to cover in a 90-minute class. Were you able to plug into any of those things? If not, what did you do once the county imposed the initial Stay at Home order?

As soon as BYSJ closed its doors to follow the public health orders, I converted my spare bedroom into a yoga studio. I was able to stay connected with BYSJ through their Facebook page and, as a result, took the first live BYSJ Zoom class I could. One of my mentors also began teaching Zoom yoga classes daily in the mornings and evenings. Our small group of yoga students has stuck with it over nine months later!

Standing Head-to-Knee pose
Camel pose
Awkward pose

BYSJ established a library of pre-recorded audio classes, and we offer these complimentary through our YouTube channel for folks around the globe. In August, we started outdoor classes in the former Orchard Supply parking lot adjacent to BYSJ. Were you able to take advantage of these? It became more concerning and stressful as we adapted to a lost sense of normalcy. It’s helpful to all our members to share how you handled this time; it went on longer than we all thought.

As the months passed by, I still could not work due to the extended restrictions. I saw this as an opportunity to continue doing what I love doing most: yoga. I started taking online classes through BYSJ’s website. In August, BYSJ began offering outdoor classes in a roped off section of their parking lot. The parking lot classes were very powerful. I had forgotten how important the energy within the class was and how valuable it is for my practice. It felt amazing to see everyone, including instructors, again. Thankfully the weather was hot in August, which meant taking the class outside felt closer to taking a class in the BYSJ studio rather than the studio I’d created in my home.

On November 2, BYSJ re-opened indoors at 25% capacity with 22 classes a week. That lasted two weeks, having to close again on November 16. All 22 classes are now online, and we still offer two outdoor classes on the weekend. Have you been able to take any of these classes? If so, what was the process of getting to this place? What are your thoughts about it today? Bikram Yoga is known for its heat and humidity. Do you practice with extra heat or humidity? If not, how is it going?

As soon as BYSJ opened its doors in November, I resumed taking those classes. I love doing Bikram first thing in the morning, so I would register ahead of time for the 5:30 am classes. I was getting up early, slapping on a mask, and getting back into my favorite hot room. After the studio had to close again and classes resumed online, I promised myself to continue three times a week in the early morning. Over time, my routine at home has grown on me. During the colder months, I run a space heater in my yoga studio at home to mimic the heat I would get at the BYSJ studio. I also use towels to seal off the bottom of the door to keep in the heat. While it isn’t quite as warm as BYSJ’s studio, it still gets pretty toasty. I look forward to the days when we can take off our masks and resume indoor classes at a more “normal” capacity.