Taking deep breaths is important in yoga. That’s a little harder during a virus pandemic – but still possible.

Modo Yoga has found a way to continue to offer classes and help people stretch for health and wellness, and for those reasons and others, it’s been voted Best Yoga Studio in the Best of the City survey.

“We’re trying to create community, we’re trying to better the lives of Nanaimo people and our extended Nanaimo community,” said Kristen Butler, co-owner of Modo Yoga. “So it’s just a little encouragement that we’re doing a good job and we want to keep doing a good job and knowing how we can do better, particularly with this new landscape that we’re in.”

The health and fitness business was hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before there was any provincial mandate, Modo Yoga and its other partner health practitioners made the decision to close down facilities.

Modo Yoga tried to fill the gap by offering live classes via Instagram, and also directed people to online classes through Modo Yoga International. The studio posted daily inspirations on its social media channels to try to encourage people to keep moving and keep well.

Six months later, instructors and participants have settled into a new normal at the studio on Dufferin Crescent. Class numbers are limited to just 15 per cent of what they were pre-pandemic, and participants must wear masks to and from their yoga mats. Staff make sure people aren’t coming in sick, and sanitizing and social distancing measures are the norm.

Butler said as restart phases and health and safety best practices have progressed, there’s been “decision fatigue” about what policies need to be in place and what procedures need to be changed.

“If anything we’ve been hyper-vigilant, doing things that we didn’t necessarily have to do, just to make sure everybody’s safe,” Butler said. “So far, so good.”

People have been understanding, she said, as they really wanted to get back to yoga.

“What keeps us going to try to do it and try to make it work is all the people that keep coming, and [they say], ‘I needed that today, thank you so much.’”

Yoga students can come for Modo yoga, Modo flow yoga, and yin style. They can work up a sweat in the hot studio that’s “metaphorically cleansing,” Butler said, adding that yoga can generally benefit not only physical, but mental health.

“Life is different and hard. Even going into the grocery store causes people anxiety right now…” she said. “It’s an hour to myself where I can relax, I can move, I can take a deep breath, I can take 10 deep breaths. I’m around people that are like-minded, that want to better themselves. You walk out, and it was only an hour, but you [think], ‘I feel like I’m a different person. I’m ready to take on the challenges of the world again.’”


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Modo Yoga instructors Kate Beddows and Kristen Butler stretch out into a triangle position at the studio on Dufferin Crescent. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Modo Yoga instructors Kate Beddows, left, and Jon Dickson, staff member Lisa Moore and co-owner Kristen Butler hold the warrior position at the studio on Dufferin Crescent. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

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