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Building Community in the Time of a Pandemic

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The pandemic has undeniably changed the way we yoga, and as a new studio, this has been especially true for us at My Vinyasa Practice. Although our online studio has been active since March 30, 2020, it wasn’t until July 20, 2020, that we opened the doors to our brick-and-mortar studio. We understood that opening a studio during the time of pandemic would not be an easy feat, but Michelle Young (owner) had a vision, and so we pressed on. However, with the safety of our community in mind, our efforts have not been toward packing the studio full with students; instead, we have decided to keep our class sizes intimate for now, maxing out at nine students per in-studio class. Still, with an initiative to share inclusive and accessible yoga, we have persisted in creating alternative avenues for sharing the practice we believe in with our community.  

It seems most yoga and workout practices in general have been moved online, and while we also use platforms such as Zoom, Youtube, and Instagram to share our content, it is our intention to share more than a workout. I interviewed Jessica Long, our Social Media Manager, to share more information about what our initiative in action looks like at MVP.

Jessica Long, Social Media Manager at My Vinyasa Practice.

“At MVP, we want to make sure that everyone in our community feels welcome and included, so for all of our Instagram challenges, we make sure to showcase adaptive postures, which often means using props! Additionally, we are passionate about using our social media to uplift our entire community — that means yogis of all genders, age, race, body size, and bodily ability. All are welcome in the MVP community. Another thing that makes MVP especially accessible is how affordable it is to practice with us. We offer many free community events both at our Austin studio and online; our online classes are available at a drop-in rate of just $5 (and many are free), and our Austin studio is donation-based. We also offer donation-based private lessons and Yoga Therapy — affordability is accessibility. We never want students to feel that they are not welcome because of their finances.” 

The ancient practice of yoga is meant to benefit far more than the physical body. At MVP, it is our passion to inspire each other to turn inward to recognize the wisdom, beauty and strength that already resides within each of us. I spoke with Jaq Landers (they/them), a dedicated online student of our community, to ask them how being a part of MVP has affected their life; they said: 

Jaq Landers (they/them) an online My Vinyasa Practice student. @slamethyst_58.

“Since joining MVP, I have learned how to release old patterns and create new healthy ones. I have learned to embrace my authentic and divine nature. I’ve even had the courage to come out at work as Non-Binary.”

By sharing inclusive and accessible yoga, we have been able to reach students who may have felt timid or hesitant at first. It can be intimidating to step into a studio and onto the mat for the first time, especially during the time of a global pandemic. Though our online offerings are extensive, there are yogis that join us regularly to practice safely in person. I spoke with Abby Parsons, a local yogi, about her experience practicing in-studio.   

“I was a little nervous going to indoor classes because of COVID, but the studio does a really great job of sanitizing all spaces, making sure masks are worn by staff and guests at all times, checking temperatures, providing hand sanitizing stations, making sure you’re able to pre-register for classes, and enforcing social distancing. It felt a little weird being out of my apartment at first, but seeing how much work & thought MVP puts into keeping me safe puts all my worries to rest.”

We take the safety of our community seriously, and it is our standard to always put the student first. We apply this in-studio and in our approach to our online training programs. It is our belief that yoga is for everybody, and should be available to anybody who feels compelled to practice. Frankie Ferris is another beloved member of our community. When I asked her if there was anything she wanted to share about our community and her experience, she replied: 

Meet Frankie Ferris! Member of the My Vinyasa Practice community.

“I love the work that MVP is doing in regards to liberation and equality for People of Culture. Yogis from all over the world, from all walks of life, color, creed, economic class, gender, sexual identification and education level are welcome at MVP. Their compassion for all of those who may have been oppressed by society as a whole and the “Instagram model” yoga community, is, in my opinion, setting a precedent for other yoga schools in the Austin area and beyond!” 

Though this year has been humbling and has thrown us innumerable curveballs, it has also reinforced the vision that waters our persistence. In a time of the pandemic, watching our community grow beyond the walls of our brick-and-mortar studio has been an unexpected and welcomed honor. In no way do we disregard the hardships and suffering imposed on the majority by the dramatic effects of the pandemic, but in these difficult times, the ability to connect with yogis locally and globally, to cultivate and be a part of a community that uplifts BIPOC and LGBTQ+, and that includes all who wants to be a part of MVP, cultivates a sense of comfort and oneness. 

We would love it if you would join us!

 

Article written by Kristiana Vuong.

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