East Toronto yoga and fitness studios helping people stay active and healthy through online classes

Celeste Shirley of The Yoga House is offering online classes to help people stay physically and mentally fit as they deal the stresses of the fight against the COVID-19 virus. Photo by Lisa Crouch.


As the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus continues, many businesses that have had to close their doors are adjusting the way they operate.

A number of East Toronto yoga studios and fitness clubs have adapted to these changing times by offering other alternatives for their clients to stay active.

For example, The Yoga House on Copeland Avenue has modified its services by moving classes to online.

Celeste Shirley, teacher and founder of The Yoga House, said she initially began practicing yoga because she found it to be both challenging and rewarding.

Shirley said that as we go through the COVID-19 crisis, people need to make time to take care of themselves mentally and physically.

Doing yoga is one of the activities that can help, she said.

“Personally, it has helped me reset. I felt like my values were in place but I’m understanding how to use my physical and mental energy more effectively,” said Shirley.

“I felt like this was inevitable, we were living such a fast-paced chaotic life that this is causing people to really look at what’s important and meaningful”.

The restrictions being put on people in order to stop the spread of the virus has made many people become more health conscious, she said, and also made them find ways other than gathering in group sessions or classes to be connected.

Shirley has moved her classes online and plans to collaborate with other fitness organizations such as Dialectical Living, run by Julie Hayden.

This will allow both organizations to bring participants from other programs together while practicing yoga and mindfulness.

Through hosting mindfulness workshops, Shirley checks in with each participant and realizes how everyone has altered their everyday life to continue their exercises from home.

Within these online classes, many individuals find it easier to commit as they can move at their own pace, such as taking breaks and moving along with the class when it best suits them with less guilt.

Shirley explained that virtual classes are intimate and personal to every person taking part, as she gets to know each individual and works with them to tackle any challenges they face.

Some challenges individuals are facing during the COVID-19 crisis are anxiety and strengthening their immune system.

Recognizing this, Shirley begins each class with breathing exercises and emphasizes the importance of “forest bathing”, as social distancing does not restrict you from being around nature.

She explained the importance to connect with nature right now because of the feeling of disconnect we are all undergoing. Through forest bathing, there is a resonance of vibration that you attune to by being immersed in nature and this helps strengthen the immune system.

Shirley said it’s important for people to keep busy and stay physically active during this stressful time.

“It is more important to stay physically active and it is more important than the mental because if the physical body is moving then your emotional body is much more resilient. You have much more adaptation to stress,” she said. “That is so paramount right now.”

For more information on The Yoga House and how to access its online classes, please go to  https://celesteinspires.com/

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