Outdoor classes have been a breath of fresh air for Crow Point Yoga students this summer. The business is one of thousands of Maine businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In late March, the studio closed, and instruction was to limited to online classes. But on June 1, the first phase of Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to reopen the state’s economy began.
The plan restricted public gatherings to 10 people and made teaching at Crow Point’s West Street studio challenging. Owner Sharon Goldhirsch considered holding outdoor classes in the studio’s back parking lot. That was before a phone call from Spruce Point Inn offering its deck for morning classes. The inn hosts weddings and other events on its deck each summer, but the state of emergency and health concerns resulted in massive cancellations.
“Their space became available and (SPI sales director) Lisa Walby offered the deck which can fit up to 20 students with social distancing. Their guests can take the class at no charge and we’ve had about 10-15 students each session,” Goldhirsch said.
Since June, Crow Point has hosted one-hour classes five times per week. Goldhirsch or another instructor leads classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Two classes are held on Friday mornings and a Thursday class is possible, according to Goldhirsch.
So yoga class has gone from an enclosed room with artificial light and four walls to wide open spaces, fresh air, trees, sunlight and the occasional red chipmunk running across the deck. So far, the new location is a hit with students. Susan Bremer of Boothbay Harbor is one of Crow Point Yoga’s original students from its opening in 2015. July 15 was her first outdoor class. “I loved it,” she said. “I’m glad it wasn’t sunny, and I thought it was the perfect setting for yoga.” Bremer enjoys the class because it improves her fitness and flexibility. She also enjoys taking the class with her friends.
Cilla Alden of East Boothbay is one of those friends. She has taken yoga classes for three years, and likes the new setting. “It’s a change being outside, and I like looking up and seeing an osprey in the sky.”
Crow Point Yoga is still providing online live video classes via zoom. Instructors televise the morning classes so seasonal residents who haven’t traveled to Maine due to health concerns can still participate with the group. “We have students in Florida, New Jersey and South Carolina who can’t be here, but they still want to participate so we are continuing this for them,” Goldhirsch said.
Crow Point business manager Wendy Johnson is also a yoga instructor. She began yoga two decades ago and describes the move outside as a first step toward regaining normalcy in their students’ daily routine. “This is a great way for our students to stay connected. We so appreciate that Spruce Point has provided this for our students and their guests.”
If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, Goldhirsch moves the classes indoors to the inn’s Pemaquid Room, a spacious ballroom nearby. While classes have moved outdoors, the indoor studio is performing a new function. Goldhirsch had repurposed the studio into a boutique selling “super soft” clothes, jewelry and incense. She plans on continuing the outdoor classes into October.