Enterprising Spirit: Ashtanga Yoga adds more classes, teaches during coronavirus pandemic

As coronavirus-related restrictions forced fitness studios to pivot operations to remain afloat, Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane made changes to maintain members’ accessibility to yoga by adding new classes and instructors.

Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane owner and director Shelley Enlow asked members how their yoga practice changed during the pandemic and how the studio could support them.

“I needed to know from their own experience what they felt would be most helpful,” she said in a statement. “How can the practice act as a guide?”

Enlow evaluated input from members and received inspiration from Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor, two prominent figures in the national Ashtanga community. From there, Enlow created three new classes and added two instructors, Kari Grambo and Julia Pelc, who teach beginner-level courses.

A key component of the new courses, which began Sept. 7, includes more instruction and interaction from teachers.

The three courses are: Ashtanga Foundations, a beginner-level course; Ashtanga Improvisation, a class intended for those with established yoga practice; and Standing Series & Mysore, a class for students of all skill levels.

In a traditional Mysore class, students practice at their own pace and are offered instruction by the teacher on an individual basis. Ashtanga yoga involves a series of postures in which breath is linked with movement.

Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane’s courses are available in-studio at 505 E. 24th Ave. – with limited space because of state COVID-19 guidelines – and online via Zoom.

In addition to the new classes, Ashtanga Yoga School is hoping to make yoga more accessible to the community by offering a sliding scale for membership fees based on need. A regular membership costs $125 a month.

Enlow began practicing yoga in 1995, and, in 2007, opened Twist Yoga, which operated for three years before merging with Spokane Yoga Shala.

In 2014, Enlow opened Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane.

The yoga school is among many fitness centers and gyms adapting to the state’s coronavirus-related guidelines, which were updated in August with a requirement of 300 square feet of social distancing space between members.

Some Spokane-area fitness centers and gyms are navigating the state guidelines by offering more online classes, while others are conducting outdoor classes.

A common theme among Spokane-area fitness centers and gyms is they have a loyal customer base.

Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane’s loyal membership has made it not just a place to exercise, but a community, said Isaac Grambo, Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane’s marketing director.

Through providing more classes and improving accessibility to memberships, Ashtanga Yoga School Spokane hopes to gain new members, Grambo said.

“We are hoping we can bring in people who haven’t done Ashtanga Yoga before, or people that maybe don’t have access to yoga,” he said.

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