Small businesses and non-profits are especially hard hit during the coronavirus outbreak. We get it! Baltimore Fishbowl is a small business, too. To help small businesses and non-profits, we will provide regular updates to let you know how they are coping.
The following is an update from Sarah Ittmann Leite, Founder and Senior Teacher of Yoga Tree Baltimore, on how they are adapting and coping during these times.
How have you altered your business to adapt to the quarantine?
On Sunday April 15th we began to Livestream our fitness and yoga classes directly from our Hampden Yoga studio to allow some of our older and immunocompromised students to practice from the safety of their home. By the next day we were running a full schedule of three to four virtual classes a day. We purposefully created a vibrant April. Full of extra classes, Zoom Happy Hours, Weekly Meditation and a yoga challenge. “Commit to 15” an invitation to take at least 15 classes in the month of April. We knew we wanted to keep everyone accountable and inspired. Even with this push we lost a large amount of our members. Like all of our neighboring stores, we have seen a huge drop in walk in sales. What we still have is a powerful community of dedicated students who practice their yoga, and who often bring us great ideas. We are now able to teach remotely. By offering our online services further afield we can teach to people all over the world. We are looking for more ways to bring yoga to those who need it: we are offering small group classes taught on Zoom to corporations wanting to support their workers who may be under more pressure than usual. If your readers would like us to teach their family or team let us know. We can organize a weekly time or a one off.
Are you doing something for the community or your employees that you want to share with our readers?
Recently, through community initiative, our yoga students have begun to pay for others who can’t afford this right now. It all started when one of our youngest members said he’d like to pay for two memberships as a way to support Yoga Tree. When asked for how long, his answer was until he “couldn’t afford to, or until we reopen.” We were so moved by this, we immediately went to our list of members who had canceled; we matched his donation with a member who lost his job because of Covid19 related closures. This has launched our “Yogis for Yogis fund”. Anyone who wants to donate into the fund can, anyone wanting to do yoga can submit their need and we will link it all together. We are just getting started and are excited to continue developing these ideas and see how to offer this beyond our time of quarantine.
Additionally, we are donating a portion of each new membership to Moveable Feast. One of our teachers is offering a virtual handstand workshop on May 2nd and 100% of those proceeds will also go to Moveable Feast. With so many people in our community participating in the Ride for the Feast each year and really missing that event, we wanted to drive some of the support we receive towards them this year.
What is the status of your employees?
Some of our employees are working less, because of responsibility to their home life, graduate school life, or internet challenges. Some are working more! I let them tell me their needs, and I try to meet them as close as possible. When we first felt the crunch of our drop in sales the teachers offered to take a lower pay rate, at first I thought, “Great! That will help us last.” But I couldn’t bring myself to accept it and thought… there may be another way. So, we started a gofundme that is slowly growing and all of that goes to their pay.
How can readers help you get through the crisis?
You can join us for yoga! We have 25 yoga and fitness classes a week, special classes and workshops are added every week. If the streaming classes aren’t at a good time for you we have over 100 classes to rewatch at your own convenience. I think the whole world has moved from “I can’t do that online” to how do I sign up for a virtual pasta making class? If you are missing your yoga or fitness studio and it is not online we would love to welcome you to yours. Or if you are experiencing insomnia or anxiety and are ready to start a yoga practice this is the time! You will have 100% privacy of your own home.
In the spirit of “Smalltimore,” when you join us for class, become a sustaining member or contribute to our fundraiser (and support the more than a dozen Baltimore city residents who work for Yoga Tree), you are helping us turn that around and put it right back into our community to help other small businesses.
How are you coping, personally?
Yoga really helps! Of course, my work offers me so many coping skills, and I still need a source of relief off of the yoga mat. My next choice is nature! Time outside every day is a reliable way to reset when I begin to worry or try to plan the future. Spring in Baltimore: it’s the most beautiful place to be this time of year. I take walks with my 6-year old, and we do observation journaling. My husband is the rock of the family. He teaches yoga, too and has become the one steering the ship for homeschooling, cooking and giving me time to visualize how we can adapt to make sure the yoga studio thrives. Yoga Tree has an amazing group of yoga members, yoga teachers and the administrative team. We lean on them; I ask for their advice, their support and we all hold each other up. I am so grateful to our strong community!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
We are celebrating the yoga studio’s 15th Anniversary on April 27th. In 2005 we opened and I taught our first yoga class at 4pm. So I will be teaching a class at that time as a way to honor that first one so long ago. I will have mixed feelings about not being in our brick and mortar at 911 W 3th street. If you told me when I started Yoga Tree that I would be teaching virtual classes with students practicing from home, I would not have believed you. But here we are, and in the middle of this pandemic, I am so grateful to be practicing yoga with the Yoga Tree community -no matter where we are.
If you represent a local small business or non-profit and would like to share your update with our readers, contact Nicole Allen at [email protected]. During the crisis, we will offer these sponsored posts for free as a service to the community.