By Kait Linton
There’s no doubt that 2020 was a doozy of a year.
Australian Bush fires, West Coast wildfires, a massive explosion in Beirut, a global stock market crash, social justice uprisings, presidential impeachment during an emotionally charged and divisive election year… it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say the last twelve months resembled that gif of the proverbial dumpster fire (which, unsurprisingly, made GIPHY’s top ten most popular animated images for the year).
But amidst all of the loss and change 2020 ushered in, perhaps no other event had such a widespread impact as the global pandemic. Many people, resources, businesses, and relationships have been pushed to and beyond their breaking points as we figure out ways to live, work, and care for ourselves and each other during this time.
No matter your feelings about the effects of COVID-19 (there are no wrong feelings, by the way), the impact it has had on the way we do business at Evolution Power Yoga has certainly left a lasting impression – one that has also left its mark on the students, teachers, and staff that make up our community.
The transformation of Evolution Power Yoga in 2020 was nothing short of, well, evolutionary. When the physical studios were mandated to close in March, leadership took the opportunity to pivot and transform the studio’s digital footprint to make EPY’s services more accessible than ever before.
The community already had access to Evolution GO, an on-demand studio with asana, meditation, and skillwork content that launched in January 2020, but the lock-down in March afforded our teachers and students the opportunity to dive into LIVE virtual classes on Zoom.
Within 2 weeks of locking the studio doors, Evolution’s owner and visionary, Lisa Taylor, was leading a live digital class of 145 yogis through the magic of digital integration, determination, and grace. Virtual coffee chats, book clubs, and live meditations were also held in live virtual formats to keep connection and discussion alive in the community. EPY started, continued, and graduated teacher training programs through Evolution Learning Institute.
When the studios were allowed to reopen in July, Evolution was ready to welcome students and staff with streamlined safety & cleaning protocols, socially distanced spaces, and all new filtration in the HVAC systems to keep the air as clean as possible. The community spent the next 5 months practicing in-person and virtually (including the hybrid model of combining in-studio yogis with yogis practicing on Zoom in real-time), keeping the entire schedule of classes available for students to participate virtually at all times.
Recently, we asked for feedback from our community about how the services that Evolution has offered since the pandemic disrupted our drift have impacted them. What we received back was raw, honest, and heartfelt. The stories people shared, the suggestions they made, and the gratitude they expressed gave us an even deeper sense of appreciation for each and every one of you who have supported Evolution during this time.
Here’s what some of you had to say about your practice with Evolution in 2020.
When asked about the on-demand services on our digital studio Evolution GO:
“On-demand classes fit easily into my schedule and allow me to experience different teachers.”
Another student who frequently travels shared that they love taking their Evolution practice and teachers across time zones with them at their convenience.
“I appreciate being able to choose the class and time to practice.”
If you haven’t checked out the new look and content – including Yoga IGNITE! – at Evolution’s on-demand lifestyle studio, go now and take a look at www.myevolutiongo.com
When asked about their experience with EPY’s live virtual classes students had a lot to say. We heard from long-time students, brand new students, and students who hadn’t practiced with Evolution in years who joined us again during the pandemic.
“It was a great way to build my practice as I was just getting started. It’s easier to take risks at home.”
“I feel a sense of safety in pushing myself.”
“I felt able to try things I wouldn’t have tried in the studio.”
Some other benefits we heard about:
“I’ve noticed that I’ve started to enjoy my home practice more than I ever have before. The convenience of setting up my mat right in my living room, seeing and engaging with my community, and then having a ‘short commute’ home has been great!”
A regular student really got to the heart of the matter when they shared this,
“I have become much more focused, even with the distractions in my own home (most notably, kids). I have become less entangled with unimportant concerns during practice (the “fluff” of perfection, appearance, etc.). I have become physically stronger. I have become more flexible – figuratively and literally. I have noticed improvements in some poses and inversions I’ve been working on for a while. I am more aware of, and am better at, incorporating alignment. I am less distracted… I’m also still accountable and connected to others in Zoom classes, and I feel a part of a bigger class, which is so important to me. I have felt seen, acknowledged, and loved. I am beyond thankful for the work that has gone into allowing us to continue practicing at home. I miss the studio so much, for so many reasons. However, I love the alternative, possibly almost as much! I’m honestly reliant on my practice to help me navigate a very tough season of life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Students who returned to the physical studios upon reopening also shared their experiences of in-person classes in the age of COVID-19 awareness.
“I appreciate all of the efforts made to follow the health and safety guidelines… it is clear that Evolution puts its attention (drishti) on creating a space that students can feel safe and supported, and is a stand for that.”
“I’ve been impressed by the caution and also thrilled by the staff’s commitment to a good practice. I’m able to focus on my practice without worry or fear because of the diligence of the team.”
“Thank you for keeping me sane. For providing me a warm studio to practice in. To enable me to be back in with the community of yogis. I am so grateful for everyone at Evolution. I know you have and continue to work hard to keep us safe.”
When asked to share what they would like the team at Evolution to know about how they impacted them during 2020, students and teachers shared straight from the heart.
“You all have brought me so much peace. Between small children and being a healthcare worker, things have been very crazy! But the team at Evolution has taught me how to tap into peace, whether it’s trying to calm a 2-year-old during a meltdown, or a patient who is struggling through their day.”
“One of the things I love most about Evolution is the community. And even during a global pandemic, this community has stayed strong. As a teacher, I have enjoyed hearing from students – either through emails, calls, text, social media messages, or seeing them in class. It points to us all being up to something bigger than ourselves, bigger than the physical exercise component of yoga, and supporting one another no matter what.”
“Each instructor makes a point of knowing my name and greeting me the next time they see me. For me, working from home and not having much interaction with others, it is huge.”
“I am positive that if I did not have a consistent practice led by the Evolution team, I would not be able to manage the anxiety and stress of the year… I’m so grateful that my tool to manage mental health is also a keystone to my physical health. The efforts put in by the staff to stay open, stay available, and empower us is nothing short of heroic.”
Evolution Power Yoga has been honored to be a part of so many lives during a time when mental, physical, and emotional health have been challenged in such a big way. And while Evolution has always appreciated its students, teachers, and staff, something about hearing from them in this way has given our team a much-needed boost of vitality and encouragement.
We are grateful beyond measure for the presence and support of every community member, and we look forward to being with you as you take your yoga practice to the next level in the new year.
The evolution community is continually growing and each individual adds a new layer of dimension. If you are looking for a community of empowering, welcoming, inspirational, encouraging, and open-minded individuals – we invite you to join us for class.