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Derry yoga teacher bends over backwards to get his lessons online

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Yoga instructor John Bell who is providing classes online

Yoga instructor John Bell who is providing classes online

Yoga instructor John Bell who is providing classes online

March 16, 2020 is a date John Bell is unlikely to forget.

That was the day he had to pull the shutters down on his two family businesses as part of the coronavirus control measures.

Shutting his pub, the Anchor Bar in Londonderry, the day before St Patrick's Day was not an easy decision, but closing down his Santosha Yoga Studio in the city's Waterside left him with absolutely no income.

When one of his yoga clients suggested he could deliver his classes online, Mr Bell saw this as a perfect solution and did not let the fact that he didn't own a computer or know how to actually connect with his clients remotely deter him.

Not only have his classes proved a lifeline for the people who normally attend Mr Bell's studio, they are joined online by others from as far away as America, Canada, Bermuda and throughout the UK and Ireland.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Bell said: "I don't think any of us could have predicted how this year would develop and certainly I never could have foreseen that I close the bar the day before St Patrick's Day or my yoga studio on the same day.

"Yoga teaches you to accept things that come into your life, so when one of my students suggested teaching classes online I immediately saw this as something that I could and would do.

"I didn't have a computer, nor did I have a clue how to go about actually connecting with people remotely and allowing them to connect with me, but I went out, bought a laptop and thanks to two other students I found out how to do just that.

"I'd imagined the students who normally come to my classes would have signed up for the online classes, but I wasn't expecting to be contacted by people from all over the world as well.

"I am now teaching people from as far away as Bermuda, Canada, America as well as Ireland, England and Scotland - the response has been incredible and not something I ever would have guessed possible."

Mr Bell explained at a time when so many people are stressing about coronavirus, have employment worries or are feeling isolated - positive mental health is vital.

He said: "While I teach a strong class for people who are yoga practitioners the two main classes I am teaching are basic yoga and restorative yoga.

"Basic yoga is something people can do from their own home easily enough and the restorative class is excellent for coping with stress because it shows people how to breath - not just from their chest but from right into their core. This is essential to relaxing, getting rid of anxiety and accepting these difficult circumstances we find ourselves having to deal with right now.

"The feedback I have had from the people who regularly attend my classes and those who have joined my online classes has been amazing. People are grateful for the way yoga is helping them cope with everything they are going through. They have also told me how much they appreciate the way the online classes make them feel connected to the outside world, even though they may not be able to leave their own homes.

He added: "This has been a learning curve for me too, I have had my eyes opened to how technology can play an important part in bringing yoga and positive mental health lessons to people who, for whatever reason, cannot come to a studio and it is something I intend to continue."

Belfast Telegraph