Written by Frank Lopez
For some, the pandemic has shifted the focus of many to public health, and others on business and economy — but for some, they are both intertwined.
Koren Stewart, a mobile yoga instructor, has been offering her services through her business, Yoga of Koren, since 2018.
Stewart, born in New Orleans, is fully licensed and insured, and has been practicing yoga since she first took a class in college back in 2007, and she has made the love for the therapeutic practice a way to make some money, and help people.
As a mobile yoga instructor, Stewart would provide sessions for corporate health classes, senior centers, private gatherings, company picnics and organizational evens, and for individuals and couples suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Due to the pandemic lockdown and the shuddering of businesses since March, Stewart has been limited to the clients she is able to serve during this unprecedented health crisis.
To still be able to connect with clients, especially seniors who may be limited as to the type of exercise they can perform, and provide them the health benefits that the therapeutic exercise offers, Stewart has been uploading yoga videos to YouTube for free.
“We have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves through video and webinars, and all this kind of stuff that I was hesitant to venture into, but I was contacted through the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce and they asked me to do a couple of videos, and that gave me the confidence to do a couple on my own and they got a lot of good feedback about what people needed,” Stewart said.
With gyms and other health and fitness studios closed, and with more people staying at home, Stewart said she wanted to provide these chances for people to still be able to practice yoga.
The hardest part during this time is marketing yourself in a strictly virtual market, and if a business owner doesn’t know how to do that, Stewart said they have to learn to get comfortable with it, and start rethinking how they sell themselves.
Stewart said that she is getting positive reactions from viewers who have never tried yoga before, which is why she does it—to make sure people can understand the health and mental benefits, especially during these stressful times.
Stewart offers chair yoga a lesson in videos which is for people with limited mobility, but also works for those who work in offices and sit for long hours on end.
Though Stewart does prefer to teach in-person yoga classes, she said she has to improvise during this time, but she is not opposed to continue utilizing technology for her business in the future.
Because yoga usually requires a good amount of spacing between people, Stewart doesn’t expect social distancing to be an issue in yoga studios, but does wonder if hot yoga — yoga performed in a warm and humid studio, would be able to continue with the wet and humid environments that are not conducive to being clean.
Stewart said she is still available to teach classes in the park, which she feels is the safest way to practice.
Stewart’s main job is servicing and liquidating commercial loans at the Small Business Administration (SBA) office in Fresno, and right now, when they are working to assist small businesses suffering from the effects of the pandemic, she has her work cut out for her.
With more phone calls coming in, processing PPP loans, working with lenders, Stewart expets the SBA to be busy after the loans are given out, because then they have to be serviced, forgiven, and so on.
Though she is going to be busy for the foreseeable future, Stewart is grateful she has a job and is able to help small businesses during these times.
“For small businesses opening up—we all have to adjust to things that we don’t want to have to adjust to, but be flexible in working with the customers and being available to your customers to make sure their needs are being met because we are all coming out of this frustrated and stressed out,” Stewart said.