When The Glowing Body Yoga & Healing Arts studio opened in Happy Holler in 2008, no one could have foreseen the circumstances of its 12th anniversary celebration.
Thankfully, on Tuesday, Sept. 8, its teachers and students were able to have a safe, meaningful and very enjoyable evening together on the lawn at the Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum.
“I was pleasantly surprised that we had that many people show up in the middle of a pandemic!” said Jennifer Beyt Coffin, one of the studio’s longtime teachers. “It was heartwarming to see the support and the yearning for people to do yoga together. Of course, we did some work on the back end to make that happen.”
Talk about an understatement.
Back in mid-March, Coffin was scrambling, along with Glowing Body co-owners Kim Lomonaco and Kelly Scott, to find ways to operate.
“We were a little shell-shocked and didn’t really know what to do,” Lomonaco said. “We had teachers who still wanted to teach and students who still wanted classes. So we took the only option — online.”
Lomonaco, Scott, and Coffin had to quickly familiarize themselves with online platforms, various types of streaming services and pay portals in order to keep their business alive and continue to provide students with what they’ve come to expect from the studio’s top-notch instructors. They went through several online incarnations before landing on MindBody, which is a fitness-focused virtual platform.
The students were along for the ride. “It’s been nice to see how accommodating they are. There’s been very little pushback,” said Lomonaco. She grins. “In fact, there’s been no pushback.”
Classes are now meeting onsite as well as online, with stringent pandemic restrictions — class size is limited, and all participants must preregister. Mats are spaced well outside the recommended 6 feet, and the studio is thoroughly cleaned after every class. All participants are masked the entire time they’re in the building.
So it was a real joy to be practicing in the open air. Lomonaco led about 50 students — all spaced accordingly — through an hourlong flow practice. Afterward, there was a raffle, cookies and cake from Magpies Bakery, as well as Thai massage demonstrations for all who were interested.
The Glowing Body has a staff of six licensed massage therapists overseen by Scott, who is the studio’s Director of Healing Arts.
“It felt so good to all be there,” Coffin said. “The KBGA is a gem in Knoxville — a beautiful space that has been carefully cultivated and thoughtfully preserved.”
Lomonaco said, “when you’re put between a rock and a hard place you really have to decide — ‘what am I doing?’ Even though our protocols are different and we’re still learning how to teach in these conditions, the underlying desire is what matters, and the rest of it will come together. The fact that our students chose to stick with us is very humbling and I feel a lot of gratitude.”
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Garden yoga, anyone? The Glowing Body continues with outside classes during pandemic