The COVID-19-influenced journey of WSA member Yoga Satsanga Ashram 

The COVID-19-influenced journey of WSA member Yoga Satsanga Ashram 

Welsh Sports Association (WSA) member Yoga Satsanga Ashram was left in a precarious position amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sally Saini is a founder and the Director of the Yoga Satsanga Ashram as well as a Board member of Holistic Yoga Care Wales CIC – two companies based in West Wales. 

Sally Saini, Co-Founder and Director of Yoga Satsanga Ashram

The venue solely provided in-person training and retreats prior to the pandemic, so were faced with existential challenges when their traditional approach was no longer possible. 

“We had never taught yoga online before!” explained Sally. “In person training was something we had felt quite strongly about, and we were really concerned about the quality of the teachings being compromised online. 

“Suddenly we had to close, and it was a huge shock for us,” she continued. “We didn’t really know what to do initially. We had to stop all in-person classes and quickly changed how we were working to adapt to the situation.” 

Due to the business also being their place of residence, the retreat was not eligible for a lot of avenues of financial support. 

“The only thing we could apply for was a small bounce back loan,” explained Sally. 

So, in order to survive, it was time for the business to adapt. 

“We had to transfer all our classes online for the local people, which was in itself a huge challenge as many of our customers in rural West Wales were not at all comfortable with technology,” Sally commented. “It was a big learning curve for us all!” 

Online learning was not where the innovation stopped, however, as the business came up with a new online course for their yoga-teaching community. 

“It ended up spreading further and wider than we had initially imagined,” stated Sally. 

“We knew so many people were in financial turmoil – including ourselves – so we had an idea to offer an accredited course for a donation-based payment, according to students’ income.  

“So, we proposed a year-long, online Yoga Therapy training, aimed mostly at yoga teachers. The monthly payments offered were anything from £150 to £15! We trusted that everyone would be honest about what they could afford without taking advantage, and I think that course gave around £2000 per month! It really did save us for a while! 

“And over the course of the pandemic, we adapted and were able to later run hybrid courses with a mix of in-person and online training, which we never would have considered before!”  

The business’ flexibility in the face of the pandemic was crucial in ensuring that it survived, like so many other organisations in sport and leisure and beyond. Their adaptations have in fact expanded their reach, with a significantly different client base than before COVID-19. 

“We found that being online allowed us to reach a lot more international students,” Sally confirmed. 

“As we are quite specialist with some of our Yoga teachings and the tradition we teach from is quite a rare gem in the Yoga world, some people are actively seeking it out, so about 70% of participants on our online courses are from Asia, Europe or America!   

“Again, this is something we never would have actually tapped into had it not been for the pandemic. 

“We still value in person training very much,” Sally affirmed, “so we’ve embraced this hybrid model.” 

And it’s visibly worked wonders for Sally’s business’ work and the community that its fostered. 

“People very much appreciate how it is now possible for them to train from their own homes and then, with that knowledge and practice, bring it all together to refine and perfect at our in-person training!” 

Sally is of course also a Board member of Holistic Yoga Care Wales CIC, who took advantage of PAVS funding to provide important services for the West Wales community. 

PAVS funding allowed the organisation to provide flexible yoga learning to the local community and specifically to registered carers. From Zoom classes to teaching at other venues in West Wales, the funding allowed Sally to spread the benefits of yoga. 

Unfortunately, this funding has come to an end, although Sally told the WSA that “we still get some enquiries asking when there will be another free carers’ retreat”. 

The funding, and what it allowed the facility to provide to the community, was vital. 

“The cares got such a lot out of these days and went home feeling stronger with several techniques to help them cope with living in a high stress situation,” Sally explained.  

“It was also a good opportunity for carers to share with each other their experiences, and it was a good emotional release for them.” 

The work that Yoga Satsanga Ashram and Holistic Yoga Care Wales CIC have carried out provides visible benefits to the local community, demonstrating the importance of investment in all corners of the sport and leisure sector. 

The WSA continues to support our members in accessing funding and can signpost to available grants and loans. We continue to work with the WCVA to ensure the invaluable work of our members in the community is recognised. 

Visit the Yoga Satsanga Ashram website for further details on the organisation and its work! 

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