Get Your Flow On!: How Infinity Flow Yoga Studio Has Adapted to COVID-19 Restrictions
Yoga is one of the single most calming pastimes one can take up. Mind, body, and soul come together in harmony as you learn to focus on your breath while flowing between poses. While trying not to fall over in tree pose, for example, you develop astronomically better concentration by focusing on one spot in the room to hold your balance. Going from pose to pose becomes less choppy and more like a continuous motion if you put enough time into it. All the same, no one’s capabilities are alike, which is why there are modifications available for almost every pose. And at the end of the practice, you can reward yourself by lying down in savasana, a few minutes of still relaxation that are often accompanied by peaceful music.
Enter Shannon Prestopine, a driven entrepreneur. She is very much familiar with the health benefits of both yoga and Pilates, as the two practices have been instrumental for her in physically and emotionally recovering from serious injury. There is a calming component to yoga that is missing from other forms of exercise, which is part of its universal appeal.
Surely everyone could reap the benefits of laying down a yoga mat and getting into the flow. So she had the city of New Castle in mind when she decided to open Infinity Flow, a yoga studio located on Butler Road.
“My intention was to create a safe space for our community to come to no matter what was happening in their life, good or bad,” she remarks on her decision. And while New Castle has a lot of things going for it, from serene parks to homely hot dog shops, until Ms. Prestopine stepped in, a yoga studio had not been one of them.
Infinity Flow, like all yoga studios, is driven by in-person patronage, so it had to modify its classes to abide by CDC guidelines and keep eager yogis safe. Last March, when the lockdown first began, Ms. Prestopine quickly decided to move to online classes. She’d been ready to do so when the studio was first shut down.
“It was a necessary step to maintain connection with the students and keep them practicing at a time when we all needed it most,” she says.
Not all classes have been easy to make virtual. One such class is Pilates, which helps with enhancing physical strength and losing weight. This is one of the key differences between it and yoga, because when one practices yoga, one is generally seeking to develop flexibility and not necessarily to burn off the calories from that ice cream cone. Most people do not have the reformers (apparatuses that improve posture and core strength) and other equipment that Infinity Flow uses with Pilates.
Indeed, the older generation and others who might not be very tech-savvy have opted out of online instruction due to intimidation. They can all breathe an ujjayi sigh of relief, however, because in addition to the online classes, there are several in-person ones…including Pilates. “There are options available for everyone at Infinity Flow,” Ms. Prestopine comments.
Infinity Flow has found that the majority of customers prefer the in-person connection found in the studio classes, and it isn’t hard to see why. When you are in the studio, it feels infinitely more personal. The instructor can actually position you correctly if, for example, your hips aren’t popped like they should be, whereas with online classes, he or she can tell you where you’re going about it the wrong way but can’t physically set you right, as it were. This may seem like a minor detail, but to those who are just starting out, it can make a big difference.
Meanwhile, those who take part in the online classes out of a desire to protect compromised loved ones have commented on how happy they are to be able to still practice even while at home. It is all a matter of preference, ability, and, at times, necessity.
Financially, Ms. Prestopine has had a similar experience to other small business owners during the coronavirus pandemic, which hasn’t altogether been a good one. She has struggled with multiple closures and limitations on capacity, and therefore her income isn’t quite what it was a year ago. She is grateful for government funding and small business grants for keeping her afloat this past year but hopes that things will return to somewhat normal as vaccines reach those most vulnerable.
The studio currently has hybrid, live-streamed classes, so you can have a fulfilling practice regardless of how you’re practicing. No matter where your mat might be, whether you prefer to salute the sun from the comforts of your own home or in a studio amongst others, who may be shiny with sweat if the class is on the more rigorous or quick-moving side, you can enjoy an hour-long guided practice with a group of fellow yogis.