Karma Yoga lives up to its name by giving back to the community

Article Originally Published by Caleb Yum on North Texas Daily

Denton’s Karma Yoga offers a way for people to stay active and join an inclusive community of yoga enthusiasts without having to worry about prices or perfection, and they have made their classes still accessible amid the social distancing requirements resulting from COIVD-19.

Karma Yoga co-owner Jessica McReynolds started the business six years ago as a way to make yoga more inclusive and attainable.

“I really wanted to take away the whole idea that yoga was expensive, that you had to wear these certain types of pants and you had to take a shower… it’s very unrealistic,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds said buying a yoga studio was not feasible for her. Instead, she came up with an idea that would serve as the basis for Karma Yoga.

“Yoga, it’s just about getting on your mat, and also I wanted to give back to the community,” McReynolds said. “So how do you do that? How do you make both of those things happen? So I chose to never actually have a studio.”

Instead, McReynolds contacts local businesses and asks them to use their space for an hour or so for Karma Yoga’s classes. Their first class was in a brewery and they have been making it work ever since then.

“We had partnered up with [Audacity Brew House] the first time, and it just worked,” McReynolds said. “We charge people $5 a class, they come in, and they get a full hour of yoga.”

However, McReynolds said paying the $5 fee is not required if it is not financially feasible. The important thing, she said, is the idea of inclusivity and “giving back to the community.”

“It’s not about making money off of this, I make enough money… it’s about giving back to the people who need it,” McReynolds said.

Karma Yoga Manager Michi Poindexter said instead of throwing around the word inclusivity as a substitute for “we will take money from anyone,” the focus for them is on making anyone feel welcome.

“The idea of Karma Yoga is that it is a service to our community and we’d not be representing our community well if we didn’t serve our entire community,” Poindexter said.

This idea, Poindexter said, comes in the form of various conscious actions that Karma Yoga takes in order to make sure that anybody can attend their classes.

“If the $5 is out of reach financially, we still won’t turn people away,” Poindexter said. “We also receive payments for classes over $5 for people that can have those resources to aid someone else in the community. We offer classes with teachers that welcome a range of physical accessibilities and give variations to postures that can meet everyone’s ability levels that day, from the chair to the mat.”

Karma Yoga has had to adjust like many other local small businesses with the COVID-19 pandemic severely limiting the ability to leave the house. Classes are now on Zoom, Facebook and Instagram and still cost $5.

“We get to actually see the community again, we get to see their faces, we get to see what they’re doing online instead of teaching to an empty void,” McReynolds said. “On Monday, we still have [classes] on Instagram and on Facebook, so we’re still live feeding both of those plus on Zoom.”

There are all different kinds of teachers at Karma Yoga as well. Instructor Huck Divers has a bit of a fitness background and tends to push the heart rates a little higher than most, but acknowledges that there are many different kinds of teaching.

“I don’t think we can say what a usual class consists of since we all teach and create our own classes [and] we don’t fall into a specific category,” Divers said. “Karma and its students are lucky to have teachers from all backgrounds.”

Though Karma Yoga classes are accessible to people of all fitness levels, yoga veterans are still welcomed. McReynolds said she makes sure to try to balance the different types of experience levels in her classes.

“I have people who have just started yoga and have never done yoga, and then I have people who have done it for 20 years,” McReynolds said. “So I’m having to challenge the people who have done it for 20 years, and also try not to get the people who are beginners to not want to come back ever again.”

In the end, though, McReynolds said even during these tough times, it’s all about getting on your mat and giving it a shot.

“Even if you turn your thing on mute, even if you have your camera off, that’s a-ok,” McReynolds said. “Just give us a chance.”

Courtesy Karma Yoga

Source: North Texas Daily