bluff yoga aerial shot

FEATURE: Uncertainty Plagues Yoga on the Bluff in Long Beach

Photo courtesy Yogalution Movement

As some retail stores and public spaces are beginning to reopen around Long Beach, the desire for a return to normalcy only continues to grow. Changes to the stay-at-home order seem to be arriving daily, meaning there’s still plenty of uncertainty for local businesses forced to decide between sticking to their newly-established business structure or pressing towards a return to business as usual.

One such business that has a unique footprint in Long Beach is Yogalution Movement, the studio known for its free Yoga on the Bluff classes held daily across from Bixby Park. The studio has transitioned to offering its classes online, but as the spring weather rolls in, there’s a strong desire from the community to take in some sun and have mats covering the bluffs once again.

“I can just say first and foremost that all of our teachers miss the bluff and all of the students and the community, and the connection,” said Dharma Shakti, founder and operator of Yogalution Movement. “We love serving community, which is why we were up and running overnight online once we heard about the shutdown.”

Yogalution has maintained contact with its members on its website, and offers classes daily both on its Zoom platform and on Facebook. Those operations have gone smoothly, according to Shakti, and it will likely continue to be the way forward until more clear direction is given from the city on how businesses like hers can safely reopen.

“Right now we are in the flow of the online platform until we get any good notification that we can open up,” Shakti explained. “It’s a little tricky…There are a lot of yoga studios in Long Beach and we have had no direct communication or emails letting us know what’s up with our specific industry. So it’s all kind of gray right now. There’s talk of reopening but everything is very vague.”

As more restrictions are lifted on local businesses, Shakti envisions a modified reopening plan for the studio, which can offer in-person classes for some while still maintaining an online presence.

“I am anticipating that they will let us have some people in, but not at full capacity in order to keep social distancing going on,” she said. “We may need to have a first come, first serve RSVP list for live, in-the-room classes, and then everyone else will have to stream online. We’re just kind of rolling with it and as it comes up we just figure out what’s the best way we can get this out to everybody.”

As for the popular Yoga at the Bluff classes, the outlook on that remains even murkier. Since it’s an outdoor event, it will be tougher to manage the crowd and ensure it’s being held in a safe, compliant fashion for everyone involved. Shakti said she hopes to speak with the proper authorities from the city about how to proceed with those classes once it’s safe, but isn’t sure how that would look.

“It’s such an informal event, which is what makes it so sweet and so beautiful,” Shakti said. “But I don’t have the full control over the thing. People are going to gather out there, and they already are whether I’m out there teaching or not. So it would be nice if I can have communication with some city official to find out what they’re comfortable with. That way I can sort of captain the ship with the community. Otherwise they’re just going to go out there and do what they want to do … I imagine the return is going to be a massive gathering and I want to make sure it doesn’t cause a stir and create controversy.”

Until those clear directives come together, Yogalution will remain online. So those who are desperately awaiting the chance to enjoy their yoga classes with sunshine and an ocean breeze must to continue to be patient. But in an ever-changing world, Shakti has her eyes and ears open and is ready to get back out on the bluffs as soon as possible.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time, and right now our online platform is serving people well,” Shakti explained. “But I know people are really anxious to get back out to the bluff and as soon as we hear anything we will be out there. Absolutely. Even if we have to take up the whole bluff because people have to be six feet apart, we will be out there.”

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.