We talked to: Yoga & Reiki Bliss

Hi, Beth! Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your business, Yoga & Reiki Bliss?

Hi! I am a yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner. I have been teaching yoga for 20 years, and practicing Reiki for 10. I first started my yoga business in 2004 when I was living in New York City. I ran classes out of my apartment building’s tenants’ lounge, which was essentially a micro-studio. It was very neighborhood-oriented, and we even held yoga classes in the park in the summer.

After moving to the Valley 10 years ago, I started teaching in this area on a regular basis. But when the pandemic hit, I decided to opt for an online yoga studio, and it’s been going really well ever since! It has been a great blend of my NYC clients, some of their friends and family, and Valley clients as well. I would say my classes tend to focus on mindful movement, and self-care is a big component of that. I really love when I can bring functionality into our classes as well—my goal is to blend everyday functional movements with yoga’s mindfulness.

What are some challenges you’ve experienced as well as some positive things that have transpired in the past several years?

The upshot is that I got to start up my online studio and teach the people I love, in the way I want to teach. I really enjoy being able to watch students as they move, coaching them with verbal cues and adjusting them based on what I’m seeing and saying. I love being able to connect with my students in that way and hold space for them, so I encourage them to keep their cameras on during classes.

One of the main challenges I have encountered as we emerge from the pandemic is attrition. Now that we’re mostly back to life as we knew it, people want to be in-person more and feel that sense of community in real life. So a huge challenge for me as a smaller, boutique type of business is attracting new students and letting them know we can still feel like a community, even via Zoom. I do have a hybrid class that I teach on Fridays at a local studio, which is wonderful.

It’s also been an honor and a privilege to hold Zoom classes in which people have gotten to connect with their friends and relatives who live at a distance. It becomes this special little world of their own where they get to check in with each other and have this unique experience, when they might not otherwise have had that opportunity to do so.

What are some exciting things/products/events coming up for the business?

I have various things coming up that are exciting! I have a monthly restorative, donations-based class, and part of the proceeds go to the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias. I always look forward to it because it allows people to unplug and be quiet, still, and to truly rest. It nourishes students on a whole other level.

I also have free classes coming up that will once again be held at River Valley Co-op in Northampton. They do such a beautiful job setting up for us, with lovely lights, fans in the heat, and citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay! It’s a beautiful setting, and they are incredibly supportive.

I am also in the process of creating more functional movement-based classes, which will help people to get a little strength training in. Many of my students are in older bodies and I really want them to be as strong, flexible, and mobile as possible during daily activities. Everyone can benefit from functional strength training, no matter our age, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to sneak that in where I can. We should all have the chance to grow old gracefully and be as strong as possible so that if/when we do get injured, we can recover faster and more fully. It’s also really good for both the brain and body to try novel activities!

As a business owner, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?

My gift to myself every Friday is the restorative yoga class, and Shavasana daily. I also keep a gratitude journal and meditate nightly before bed. On the weekends, we’ll do a Friday or Saturday family movie night, which gives us time to sit down together and just chill out and laugh. I also bake whenever I can—it’s my other little happy place/activity, and my family appreciates the treats that come out of it, too!

What is one thing about Northampton that inspires and motivates you?

I will say, one thing that inspires me most is the Northampton Center for the Arts. My daughter has participated in the youth performance festival there for the past few years now, and it’s just a fantastic event. When we first moved here, they had just started taking over their space, and watching its evolution has been amazing. Knowing there is a home like that for the arts in this area is truly special, and being in that space is a beautiful experience. I acted for many years, so any time I visit, I just feel at home. The energy is palpable, and it reminds me to stay in touch with my creative roots. That, in turn, reminds me to stay creative and nimble when it comes to my own yoga practice and classes.

And finally... What’s your favorite spring food and/or beverage?

My favorite springtime meal is couscous with a medley of snow peas,  asparagus, chive, and lemon. It’s very light, refreshing, and versatile.

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