Downtown Yoga Studio Adapts to COVID-19 Through Community Collaborations

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Like so many businesses, the Garden of Healing Yoga & Wellness Center has had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located on the second floor of 94 Church Street, the center is still a place of peace and positive energy in the heart of downtown New Brunswick, but they now follow a scaled-back schedule that focuses on a combination of outdoor classes and very small in-person classes of no more than three people.

They have also expanded their offerings outside of the center by partnering with other organizations.

Since reopening, they’ve brought back a limited number of appointments for therapies like Massage, Reiki, Sauna Chair, Lymph-Stim Foot Massager and Biofield Tuning to reduce stress, to assist in recovery from injury or surgery, and to bring about a greater state of wellbeing.

“Relaxation is a skill that we may have to relearn and keep coming back to in order to take care of ourselves, especially during these challenging times when many of us are under constant stress,” reads the center’s website.

Bharati Carla Haynes is the owner of the Garden of Healing Yoga & Wellness.

“What has worked for The Garden to not only survive but improve is to focus on what needs we can fill best,” said Bharati Carla Haynes, owner of the Garden of Healing Yoga & Wellness, told New Brunswick Today.

“The community collaborations and corporate partnerships have allowed us to reach more people and me to keep great teachers consistently well-paid for the work they’ve chosen to do,” Haynes said.

Offerings at the center currently include:

  • Monday, 5-5:45pm – “Guided Meditation” at Castleton Park in Somerset
  • Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30pm – “Vinyasa” at 94 Church Street
  • Fridays, 8:30-9:30am – “Hatha Flow” at 94 Church Street
  • Saturdays, 2-2:45pm – “Gentle Stretch” at Colonial Park in Somerset

These classes are live streamed, and they’ve also created a video library for on-demand access in case someone misses class. A single class is $13 and a 3-class pass is $36, and lasts for 30 days. Registration can be done through the “MindBody” app or at their website.  In-person registration is also offered depending on attendance.

All ages and experience levels are welcomed to participate, and Haynes says she’s looking to hire more instructors and a massage therapist.

“A huge part of what we do has always been enriching existing programs and that’s more true than ever. It’s actually what has allowed me to maintain the business,” said Haynes. “We’re mostly working with local partners to bring wellness instruction and stress management strategies to either the general public or their specific population.”

Garden of Healing offers a free outdoor “Hatha Yoga” class every Sunday at 10am in “The Yard,” located at 40 College Avenue, and sponsored by the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO).

A federal grant enables Garden of Healing to offer a “safe, secure online space” for survivors of sexual violence to practice yoga.

They’ve also partnered with the Middlesex County Center of Empowerment to offer a virtual “Kundalini Yoga” class, free for survivors of sexual violence every Tuesday from 6-7:30pm through May 18.

Also on May 18 is a virtual “Family Wellness” class, sponsored by the Puerto Rican Action Board’s Harmony Family Success Center, from 4-5 pm.

Haynes says she also works with various organizations in the area to provide programs for their employees, such as organizing outdoor yoga, guided mediation, and sound healing programs in honor of “Teacher Appreciation Week” at the Greater Brunswick Charter School (GBCS) on Joyce Kilmer Avenue.

Garden of Healing has also continued their monthly drum circle and began meeting in person again recently.

The drum circle is usually an outdoor event, but if weather doesn’t permit, they meet in the gym of the GBCS.

But their next drum circle is set to take place on May 8 at 7pm in the Ile Alafia House of Well-being on Easton Avenue in Somerset, one of the many partner organizations Haynes has enlisted as she works to keep her business thriving.

Writer at New Brunswick Today | lpollitt@nb.today

Lisa Pollitt is a writer, media specialist & mental health advocate in New Jersey.

Editor at New Brunswick Today | hcafarella@nb.today

Haley is a contributor at New Brunswick Today and The Buttonwood Tree. She is a Rutgers University journalism graduate. She has also written for are The Trenton Monitor and Quo Vadis, the Middlesex County College student newspaper.