Before COVID 19, was building community a focus for businesses? Will it stay a focus beyond COVID-19? If the experiences of Local Laundry and Metta Yoga Calgary provide any clues, the answer is a resounding ‘YES’.
Like Local Laundry, Metta Yoga Calgary is all about community…building, growing and supporting everyone within it. Metta means benevolence, loving kindness, friendliness, good will and genuine happiness of all beings without exception. As a community-driven yoga studio we are committed to growing our collective. What does this look like in practice? Our teachers are dedicated, our studio is authentic and accessibility is our core value.
Metta instructors offer simple and intelligent techniques with accessibility at the forefront. As a result, our students span all ages and all abilities. We maintain high standards of connection with our students; before class, while teaching and after class. Students are greeted by name when they enter the studio, teachers seek to understand why students practice yoga and make every effort to support their development. We do this by providing an inclusive space with a variety of classes to support each individual in their yoga journey. In our weekly Karma yoga classes, proceeds go back into our community to support various local organizations, enabling our community to support the broader Calgary community.
So, what has changed as a result of COVID-19? For starters, the studio has been closed since mid-March. We were faced with a choice; offer online classes for a fee to help cover business costs or offer free online classes to ensure our students had access to yoga regardless of personal circumstances. With building community and empowering our students at the heart of who we are … the choice was clear; we now offer 7 – 12 free classes every week on Instagram and Facebook. Feedback from our students has been incredible and our community is stronger than ever. COVID-19 has taught us four important lessons on building and maintaining a community during challenging times.
1. Engage in new ways and on multiple platforms
If you asked me a year ago if we would be offering free online classes to our students, I would have wondered where we would find the time. Now our free online classes via Instagram and Facebook are how we stay connected to our community and how we support our students through the pandemic.
2. Support your community’s mental wellbeing
Mental wellness has always been a focus for us and COVID-19 has made it even more critical. We’ve added content on where to find additional mental wellness support and brand new ‘Breath and Destress’ classes.
3. Express vulnerability
COVID-19 has drastically impacted local businesses, sadly some will not recover. Sharing our vulnerability as a business with our community led to a response we couldn’t have predicted. We’ve received support through donations, advance purchase of class cards and students offering their services for studio maintenance, accounting and business support. It has been incredible to see the community pull together for our yoga studio.
4. Partner with other local businesses
This is how we began our collaboration with Local Laundry! Finding new ways to connect with our existing community has been an interesting challenge. Knowing Local Laundry’s commitment to building community in Calgary we thought there may be something interesting we could do together. We have also connected with local fitness companies that may have previously been considered a competitor. In the end, everyone benefits and communities become larger and more connected.
Local businesses depend on community, yet COVID-19 put a spotlight on how important this is. It has pushed us to find new ways to connect with and grow community. Thanks to Local Laundry and the many other local businesses that are working together to ensure we can all be in business for many years to come.---
Brandi Wilson, owner/director, Metta Yoga Calgary
Brandi Wilson does more than teach yoga and run the show at Metta Yoga YYC. She has been practicing yoga for 20 years, teaching for over 10 of those years, and is obsessed with creating community and developing yoga teachers and students.
In May 2011, Brandi moved to Calgary and opened up Moksha Yoga Calgary North, which was re-branded Metta Yoga Calgary in November 2018. Starting out with only 3 teachers including herself, Brandi has since mentored and developed dozens of teachers to date. Together with her business partner, Angela and her teachers. Brandi is committed to grow Metta Yoga’s student and teacher community.