Algonquin College health services is presenting a weekly remote yoga class that is free for students and employees. Photo credit: Breanna St-Jean

Focus on your breath, close your eyes, plant your feet in your mat and reach over towards the person to your left. Only there is no one to your left. You are in your living room, virtually connected to a bunch of yoga enthusiasts all over, looking to take the edge of the new school year and the global pandemic off their shoulders.

Algonquin College health services is presenting a weekly online yoga class that is free for students and employees looking to ease stress and reduce anxiety during these trying times.

Every Monday, sessions are hosted by Karen Chiarelli, yoga instructor. The mission is to get students and faculty to prioritize their physical and mental health during times of adaptation and uncertainty.

The first session was on Monday, Sept. 21, at lunch time. Chiarelli opened the session by speaking on foundation which was a grounding theme for this session. Foundation in yoga refers to building a strong connection between the ground below us and the parts of our body that touch the Earth: core, hands, feet and base of the spine.

With the start of fall, we are entering a new cycle,” Chiarelli explained. “We cook differently, dress differently, temperatures change, our sleeps patterns may change so it’s important to really build that foundation in times of change and stress, especially now with COVID-19.”

Over 15 people attended the session from their homes, some from their living rooms and others from their balconies and backyards.

No experience is required for these classes. All levels, from beginner to advanced, are welcome to sign up online on the health services website.

“The great thing about yoga is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all, you can really customize it to your body,” Chiarelli said.

The virtual classes are available to those who register through Eventbrite.