Campbell River yoga instructor Orsi Foldesi took her practices virtual early during the pandemic. She’s now transitioning to outdoor classes which will also be streamed. Here, she prepares for a yoga practice at the Sportsplex in Campbell River, B.C. on May 20, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Local yoga studio transitions outdoors

Willow Point Yoga offering pop-up sessions this summer

When Willow Point Yoga closed its doors in mid-March and pivoted to online yoga, instructors had to change how they led practices.

Without the ability to see the students they were speaking to, they adjusted.

“We can’t really be specific about telling people to make adjustments for example, because we can’t see them,” says long-time instructor Orsi Foldesi, “but we can share what’s happening in our own body.”

In a typical yoga studio scenario, a teacher would have their place at the front of the class and would split their time on the mat demonstrating poses and walking between students, adjusting their poses. But when you can’t see the people you’re teaching, the process becomes a lot harder.

RELATED: Campbell River karate instructor takes lessons outside the dojo

“Yes, it’s challenging,” says Foldesi with a laugh. “It’s a physical practice. So you’re doing a chaturanga (low plank) or something, meanwhile, you have to talk about it.”

She compares leading someone through a virtual practice to a pop star’s performance. They have to dance and sing at the same time, all while making it look effortless.

Willow Point Yoga, where about half-a-dozen instructors – including Foldesi– teach, closed its doors on March 14. That same day, Foldesi began a Facebook group where the yoga community could meet online to continue sharing practices. That group has since grown to over 700 members. Foldesi felt it was important to preserve that sense of community while studios were closed.

Story continues below.

“To me, that’s the most important intention behind keep it going and keep it running is connection,” she says.

No stranger to technology, Foldesi immediately incorporated live video with her business. But the point isn’t to make money.

“It’s to maintain what we have and to invest in our future,” she says. “To keep the community going so when we have the green light, we can go back to someone. We will have our communities to continue business with.”

Foldesi said the COVID-19 pandemic complicates the teaching of yoga in-person, as physical contact is used to re-position bodies into proper poses.

“When you go to a yoga studio, you’re not only going there to copy the teacher, you’re not showing up to watch somebody and copy what they’re doing, you’re also there for adjustments and corrections and their attention on you,” she says. “You want them to look at you and help you with what you’re struggling with and that at this point is pretty much not possible.”

She’s been teaching primarily through Zoom, a video conferencing software, and live-streaming her practices on Facebook. But neither method offers a particularly good view of students as they move.

“I only see them from one angle and that one angle is not enough information for me to see if their feet are in alignment or their neck is too tight – stuff like that,” she says. That teacher-student interaction is the whole reason to charge money for a class.

RELATED: Island Health gives go ahead for gyms to reopen on May 19

Without classes to attend, some yogis aren’t rolling out their mats on their own time. The pandemic is weeding out those who have been practising for the wrong reasons from the most dedicated practitioners, says Foldesi.

She’s a practitioner herself, and a teacher, plus she also teaches instructors. But for the first six years she practised yoga, she had to go to a class with a teacher, never rolling her mat out at home. Of course, that’s a different story now.

“You kind of have to make it like personal hygiene, like brushing your teeth,” she says. “You have to love it so much that you can’t really go without, to continue to practise in a pandemic.

“And that is happening and that really makes me very happy, very happy. That means all these seeds are planted and people are taking home what they learned and continue staying committed.”

Originally, yoga was meant to be practised alone, at home. For hundreds of years, the idea of going to a teacher was only if you needed extra help, or had special concerns like back pain. They’d “prescribe” a set of poses, much like a physiotherapist will send you home with a list of exercises.

RELATED: Fitness centres mull smaller classes, online lessons once studios are able to open

Now, with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s blessing, Foldesi and other local yoga teachers are once again offering classes. For Foldesi and her fellow Willow Point Yoga teachers, that means offering two free outdoor classes a week at public outdoor green spaces in the community. It’s a far cry from the 16 weekly classes that used to be on their schedule, but it means an opportunity for people to gather (at a distance) to practise yoga.

Partway through the studio shutdown, Foldesi received some other news: Willow Point Yoga won’t be returning to its usual indoor location. But instead of worrying about the future, Foldesi is focused on the summer and the pop-up outdoor classes.

“This is a great lesson for all of us to learn more about cooperation,” she says, “and just practise what yoga is really about.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Campbell RiverCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Campbell River yoga instructor Orsi Foldesi took her practices virtual early during the pandemic. She’s now transitioning to outdoor classes which will also be streamed. Here, she prepares for a yoga practice at the Sportsplex in Campbell River, B.C. on May 20, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Moen tapped to run for Green Party in North Island riding

Moen says all issues should be viewed through environmental lens

VIDEO: Save Wild Salmon demonstrators march in Campbell River

March to put pressure on federal government to fulfill Cohen report recommendations

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

NDP candidate Babchuk a fixture in local politics since 2005

School trustee, city councillor and regional district chair sets sights on being North Island MLA

Multiple incidents of bear-spraying investigated

Police are investigating multiple incidents of people being bear sprayed on Sept.… Continue reading

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Most Read