FARGO — As concern about the coronavirus grew, Brenda Weiler knew she’d have to suspend classes at her Ecce Yoga studio, but she didn’t want to completely shut out her students.
So on Tuesday, March 17, she went back to her downtown studio, turned on her computer and a camera and had class all by herself.
She wasn’t alone, though. Weiler was joined by 20 students who tuned in online to a Zoom web conferencing call from their own homes for the yoga lesson.
“It’s nice. Everyone is in their home environment, but they click the link and we’re all together,” she says. “It’s a nice way to see each others’ faces.”
Weiler settled on the idea after holding her regular Sunday song circle — a mix of singing, chanting, maybe some poetry and meditation — but choosing to stream it through Facebook rather than opening up the studio. Later that day, she noticed that 700 people had tuned into the broadcast, and she knew that there was a need for people to stay connected.
“People are so stressed out and worrying,” she says. “I’m trying to push self-care. We need to show our families, friends and loved ones that we can stay calm and take care of ourselves.”
Proving her point, Weiler says all of this while out on a walk.
Weiler has been a practitioner and teacher of yoga for years and says what she’s learned helps her in good times and bad.
“Having these tools for myself, it’s so automatic to fall back on these practices. When things get crazy, I can center,” she says. “If I can introduce something now that brings a little balance, that’s great.”
Her students agree.
“It was really great. I appreciate when we can get together as a group, but it was great to get together online and see familiar faces. It was a good break from everything that’s going on,” says Dena Wyum, who has been taking classes from Weiler for about five years. “It was the first time in a few weeks I wasn’t thinking about coronavirus. I was able to focus on the practice.”
Wyum has found the web classes so helpful that she’s been inviting others to join in online.
“I’ve been recruiting friends who have been hesitant to try,” Wyum says. “It’s a great way to access it.”
In-person classes at the studio are $15, and the online sessions are $10. Sunday’s song circle on Facebook is free to watch.
Weiler says the best classes for beginners would be the gentle/restorative yoga sessions from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She says all people need, besides a screen connected to the internet, is a mat of some sort to keep from sliding during some poses. What to wear is a matter of what makes participants feel comfortable.
“It’s not as big of an issue because you’re in your own home, so whatever you want to move in,” she says.
Though the online option allows for much larger class sizes than the 25 students her studio can comfortably hold, one drawback is that she can’t monitor and make corrections if a student doesn’t have the move right.
Weiler also added a family yoga experience that parents can do with children at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 21.
“Everyone is home and looking for something to do,” she says.
Continuing the classes online may not be ideal, but it’s helping her and her students. While 20 tuned in on Tuesday, 25 tuned in on Thursday.
“It’s a pretty weird experience for me, but I still get fun out of it,” Weiler says. “We have to get up and get off the news feed and do things that make us feel more grounded. People are feeling really alone now. Whatever you can do to not feel so alone is a good thing.”
If you go
What: Ecce Yoga online classes
Online: http://www.ecceyoga.com/ to view and register for classes
As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.