State College’s Lila Yoga pivots to fully virtual format after closing its doors | University Park Campus News

After more than a year since the beginning of the pandemic, many local businesses in State College have been left with no choice but to shut their doors permanently.

Lila Yoga, a yoga studio and meditation center in downtown State College, closed its doors last August after more than 10 years of business and has continued solely online.

Erica Kaufman, owner of Lila Yoga, said she made the decision to close her studio because she could not practice yoga with clients in a safe environment at the time.

“The studio itself actually had to close its doors first because [Gov. Tom Wolf] ordered all such businesses [to] close, ”Kaufman said. “But even after it became legal for me to open, there was no real business.”

She then decided to pivot to an all-online format for the studio’s offerings.

“People weren’t flocking to come indoors, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to get together and breathe [heavily] indoors together, ”Kaufman said.

Through Zoom and Facebook, Kaufman has continued to offer free yoga classes, and she said it has helped foster “a continuous sense of community [by] holding each other’s hands through the difficulty. ”

Clare Belmonte, who used to practice yoga at Kaufman’s studio, said she has continued to practice yoga throughout the online pandemic and is planning to complete the studio’s teacher training this fall.

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“Erica took Lila Yoga studio to the next level when she started teaching classes for free online,” Belmonte said. “I feel so strongly aligned with the way she leads her classes and connects people. I am training with her for her fall 2021 Lila Yoga Teacher Training. ”

Chris Valez, a Penn State doctoral candidate, has taught with Kaufman at the studio and practiced lilac yoga throughout the pandemic.

“For the online classes, I’m excited to be able to continue to share the beautiful practice that is lilac yoga with folks from the comfort of their homes,” Valez (doctorate-human development and family studies) said. “Erica had been offering yoga online during the pandemic for community healing through these times, so it will be nice to continue to have access to the practice.”

However, Kaufman said the revitalization efforts – now permanently online – haven’t stopped her from practicing old traditions.

“As a studio owner, I always offered free classes during the first week of school and also free classes during finals. I’m ready to do that again, ”Kaufman said. “It will probably be online, but I will offer it to the students.”

Kaufman said her “main hope” is for the community to recognize they have a resource for healthy yoga.

“I’m extending my hands and offering skills that enable each person to feel grounded, connected and healthy,” Kaufman said. “My greatest wish is to really reach out to the community again to join hands with these kinds of skills that will elevate our health and our wellness.”

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