Willow Yoga StudioAug 31, 2020 11:00AM ● By Gisele Rinaldi Siebold
Inspiring the Community to Go With the Flow
Going with the flow is something that the instructors at Willow Yoga Studio know a lot about. According to co-founder Leah Margerum, the natural flow of a yoga practice has inspired their outlook to go with the flow when responding to current events occurring across the world and in local communities.
Margerum and co-founder Monica Kirchner both believe in the power of yoga as a way to be healthy—not just physically, but also mentally. Willow Yoga was born out of their desire to create a space that brings the benefits of yoga to more people, and make it accessible to everybody. Vinyasa, slow flow and restorative class offerings help anyone, regardless of size, shape, gender or age.
The team of instructors, which also includes Tori Akerley, Matt Crager, Anna Henderer and Erin Lee, began streaming classes online in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes are offered at varying rates, including a 30-day unlimited monthly membership, a 10-class card and drop-in. Private lessons are also available.
Vinyasa flow is a low-intensity class that generally focuses on an area of the body in an effort to relieve tension, such as in the neck, lower back, hips, etc. Instructors begin and end classes with a relaxing meditation. Teachers offer modifications and are accustomed to working with students who are returning to a yoga practice after surgery or injury.
“During Anna’s yin class, she often reads poetry or inspirational readings,” shares Margerum. “Friday night restorative class with Tori is a great way to end the week. Both of these classes are meditative and relaxing. People can use whatever they have at home as props—pillows, blankets, bolsters or yoga blocks—to help them adapt as needed.
“We have also helped students who expressed feeling intimidated when attempting to connect to class via video conference,” she explains. “Our instructors are happy to have phone calls to walk students through the process; we don’t want fear to get in the way of connecting.”
Students have shared positive feedback about practicing yoga virtually. “Our students have said it’s a way to still have a connection with others,” she says. “Even though participants are in different locations, it gives them a sense of being part of a community and has helped them deal with the anxiety they may be facing due to the pandemic.”
Students are able to get into their own little “bubble” by creating a space for themselves where they can relax. Their focus is on being present in the moment, breathing and moving through the yoga poses, which can offer a beneficial distraction and enhance emotional wellbeing.
“People have told us that they don’t know how they would have made it through the isolation brought on by the pandemic without the virtual classes,” Margerum explains. “Continuing an established yoga practice or beginning one has helped people deal with the feeling of not having control of how life is unfolding. While there are definitely physical benefits, taking a mental break is an important and integral part of practicing yoga.
“Some of our students are caring for their children or other family members at home. Streaming classes affords participants the choice of being present at home while also continuing their practice,” she relates. “We have plans to continue streaming classes even when the studio reopens for in-person instruction.”
Yoga in the Park has been a fun, outdoor addition to the Willow Yoga Studio offerings. Morning and evening classes are offered at Strasburg Community Park on certain days of the week. The morning class is held under the shade of the pavilion; the evening class is held in the amphitheater area where students can choose to place their mats on the amphitheater surface or the grassy area nearby.
“Our whole purpose is health and wellness,” explains Margerum. “We stand for the wellness of our community, so presenting our classes virtually and spaced apart outdoors is a way for us to safely continue gathering to practice yoga and create meaningful connections.”
Willow Yoga Studio is located at 25 Nolt Ave., in Willow Street. Strasburg Community Park is located at 151 Precision Ave., in Strasburg. For more information, call 717-617-2128 or visit WillowYogaStudio.com.