Heartsong Yoga begins offering hybrid classes to students

Aug. 20, 2020 | Payton North
payton@thereminder.com

Heartsong Yoga co–owner Sheila Magalhaes prepares to teach a Zoom yoga class.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

EAST LONGMEADOW – As many businesses adjust to working in the new normal, local yoga studios, such as Heartsong Yoga in East Longmeadow, have adjusted to find their own new way of teaching classes.

On March 15, Heartsong Yoga Center, located at 264 N. Main St., closed their doors temporarily by state mandate to aid in “flattening the curve” of the COVID-19 spread. Four months later, in phase three of Gov. Baker’s reopening plan, yoga studios were allowed to open under the category of fitness centers and gyms, so long as they followed the specific protocols that were directed by the state.

According to Heartsong Yoga co-owner Sheila Magalhaes, she and her husband, co-owner Tony Magalhaes, they were able to take advantage of the shut-down period to get done various tasks. Tony used the shut down period for renovations, deep cleaning and painting. In addition, they enlarged one studio space, and reorganized and cleared another. Sheila said she spent time researching the computer system and technology she needed to host, what she is calling, “hybrid classes,” so students can participate in Zoom Live Stream classes from home, while small groups of students can take in-studio classes at the same time.

In addition to the preparation for a safe reopening, when the closure first began in March, Heartsong launched a new Heartsong Yoga YouTube channel where classes were videotaped. Yoga and meditation classes were uploaded for free, for anyone to access. In addition, Heartsong also posted daily Facebook Live “mid-day mindfulness pauses,” that were offered through mid-summer.

Sheila shared that they were able to offer a “full array of classes in real time” on Zoom, as she found it was more interactive than following a yoga video. “There could be conversation among the participants and teacher and positive feedback and support,” she said. Sheila noted that Heartsong teachers learned how to teach from home, and that though the learning curve was steep for all, students began to Zoom into class on a daily basis. Even Beth Wadden, Sheila’s 80-year-old mother and yoga teacher of 25 years, learned to livestream her Sunday night class to students.

Sheila shared that Heartsong chose a “slow and mindful approach to re-opening.” Sheila explained that they wanted to make sure they could follow all protocol, “while monitoring the state’s ‘COVID numbers’ in case the Governor had to push back phase three as they did in other parts of the country,” Sheila said.

“In order for Heartsong to be perfectly poised to take this leap, we chose the date of August 15 for a ‘soft reopening’ exactly five months from the date we closed our doors,” Sheila explained.

Heartsong has been in business in East Longmeadow for over 27 years, and the Magalhaes explained they felt that their reopening felt like when they first opened their doors in the early ‘90s.

“The students who came to the hybrid classes of 2020 had a positive experience. They reported feeling grateful to be back in the space, finding the environment warm and welcoming, feeling safe with the distancing and comfortable with the balance of attention to Zoom and to those in class,” Sheila said.

Prior to the pandemic, Heartsong could host 25 students at a time in each studio. At that time, teachers were able to roam around the room to help students with hands on assistance. Today, Sheila explained, only eight people are allowed per 1,000 square feet. She noted this is one room with seven students and one teacher in her studio, and in the other studio room, even less people are allowed.

“Today, the studio looks like a small TV station, with mats distanced 14 feet apart, no walk-ins, pre-registration required and plenty of hand sanitizer,” Sheila said.

With that said, Heartsong is now offering their Zoom Live Stream Hybrid classes. New students who are interested in joining these classes can have unlimited access of $30 for two weeks. Details for their sessions are available online at heartsongyoga.com. The business can also be reached at 525-0720 for more information.

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Joseph Wadden

Joseph Wadden

wrote on 8/20/2020 at 11:34:37 PM

Congratulations to Sheila, Tony, and the team at Heartsong yoga. Success does not happen on its own  -  it comes with focus, hard work, dedication, and love. You are all superstars.

Patricia "Niti" S. Martin

Patricia "Niti" S. Martin

wrote on 8/21/2020 at 10:29:50 AM

Sheila, Tony, Beth and Heartsong friends, congratulations in finding a way to keep the Yoga alive and well in your wonderful studio and community. Our students from the healing art of yoga for ongoing cancer recovery still think of your place with fond memories. We are approaching our 20th anniversary of this program that I founded. I am leading zoom meeting classes for Cancer House Of Hope, and Rays Of Hope, as in person classes have not been possible. Your model gives inspiration for possibilities for a hybrid class at CHD's Cancer House Of Hope 1999 Westfield St. W., Springfield. Until then, we will zoom on. Namasté, Niti Martin 

Patricia "Niti" S. Martin

Patricia "Niti" S. Martin

wrote on 8/21/2020 at 10:30:38 AM

Sheila, Tony, Beth and Heartsong friends, congratulations in finding a way to keep the Yoga alive and well in your wonderful studio and community. Our students from the healing art of yoga for ongoing cancer recovery still think of your place with fond memories. We are approaching our 20th anniversary of this program that I founded. I am leading zoom meeting classes for Cancer House Of Hope, and Rays Of Hope, as in person classes have not been possible. Your model gives inspiration for possibilities for a hybrid class at CHD's Cancer House Of Hope 1999 Westfield St. W., Springfield. Until then, we will zoom on. Namasté, Niti Martin