Is It Safe to Return to Studio Yoga Classes?

yoga classes photo by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash

This post was originally published on Medium.

Even as a yoga instructor, I’ve never successfully at cultivated a meaningful home practice. I love the studio atmosphere, the rituals and the vibes, and the interaction with the instructors. I took a break from teaching after I had my daughter in October 2019, and was gearing up to get back into teaching at the end of February 2020.

Great timing, right?

When COVID-19 hit and studios closed down, I felt a little lost. Even a year+ out from that initial closure, I still feel that my home practice is lacking. Not only because it usually involves fighting my toddler and dog for mat space, but I miss the focus ability to truly tune out all of the distractions of home by, well, literally not being at home.

As studios are reopening, I still hesitate to jump back into classes. And, as much as I missed both teaching and practicing with others, I wasn’t comfortable with the potential for bringing the virus home for a long time.

The case of the Hawaii spin instructor who infected 100% of his class haunted me for a while. Not only did I not want to bring anything home, but I didn’t want to inadvertently infect others. I heard news that one of the regulars at one of my pre-baby classes — a woman who always requested supported fish pose in the cool down portion of class, her name was Ann — passed away. The danger was real and omnipresent.

Gaining Comfort with In Person Yoga Classes

Over time, as we learned more and more about transmission, the risks started to fall away. When the vaccines became more and more accessible, I finally reached out the YMCA and took on a Sunday afternoon class. Reports show that well-ventilated rooms, masks, distancing, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to breathe through one’s nose, are all fairly effective barriers against virus transmission. As a low-impact workout, our noses can do their job effectively as a natural barrier.

I love teaching for the YMCA for a lot of reasons, but in the age of coronavirus, I prefer it over private studios. The guidelines in place at the YMCA for creating the safest possible environment leave no room for error. It’s not on individual instructors to police things like attendance, masking, sanitation, and other aspects of what goes into making a studio space as clean as possible. I can show up for class and leave when it’s done. No unnecessary exposure or need to sanitize anything other than what I have touched myself.

As of this writing, the Delta variant is on the rise, and the pandemic is turning into a pandemic of the unvaccinated. I’m still masking up for class and using sanitizer prior to and after touching surfaces in the studio.

But I’m hopeful.

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