Comment: Three industries are the government’s targets during pandemic

A commentary by the director of Harmony Yoga and Wellness Center in Duncan.

Here we go again. I write with grave concerns about the sweeping restrictions that target three industries: the hospitality industry, the fitness industry and the remaining community yoga centres.

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My medium-sized yoga and wellness centre in Duncan employs eight teachers and an administrative assistant. We have offered teacher training, retreats, health and wellness workshops for seven years, and built a healthy community of practitioners.

Our students tell us how important it is for their health and well-being to come in each week and practise yoga, somatics and meditation. People report feeling better, healing of injuries through a greater range of motion and feeling more resilient in facing the challenges life presents.

Yoga and meditation are very helpful in reducing anxiety, depression and helping people stay connected through this time of social isolation.

We have been required, by sweeping restrictions aimed at health and fitness, to shut down three times in the past year. I am asked again to forgo three weeks of revenue, lay off my support person and not take a wage so I can pay my rent and teachers.

The worst part for me is that our students who have found sanctuary and peace in a challenging year are not able to practise in the studio.

We have taken all of the precautions, including investing in high-quality air purifiers. We have been a safe place in this last year with zero exposures. I would have closed for a week while the numbers are high just to give the teachers and students a reset as it is stressful to work in the public when we have spikes.

Not once have we been asked for input about how we could contribute to the health and well-being of our students and keep them safe.

The government, in its panic to do something, continues to target our industry and yet we contribute the least risk to the population at large.

The last time we were asked to shuttle and wear masks, the numbers did not significantly go down — perhaps we are not the source of the problem. I am beginning to wonder if scapegoating our industry is just for optics.

I would love to see us all take a pause for the next two weeks and collectively address the spread of the virus.

It was so peaceful last March when we could hear the birds, breathe clean air and enjoy the quiet.

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