The Yoga & Polarity Center, in Malverne, has helped people find balance in their lives for the past 30 years. Like many local businesses, however, it was forced to go virtual in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic took off.
“We changed the way we saw the world,” said Heather Principe, the center’s owner. “In my 71 years on this earth, I’ve learned that life takes and life gives back. Technologically, we’re in a new age. I think the possibilities now are greater than they’ve ever been.”
Principe, who took over at Yoga & Polarity in 1995, said that over the years, her classes have attracted people from Canada, Ireland, Switzerland and South America, among other countries. “Whether people know it or not, 32 Church Street in Malverne has been a center for learning internationally for many years,” she said. “It’s been delightful to be a part of Malverne.”
Principe, of Oceanside, runs the center’s polarity classes, which aim to balance the body’s energy through exercise and dietary restrictions. She recently partnered with Reiki of Long Island owner Anu Butani, who now hosts her classes at the center.
The one component that has been missing, however, was yoga. The studio has been in need of a yoga teacher since the pandemic, so Principe contacted Peaceful Yoga owner Marianne Bochilo in May. Bochilo had started out as a yoga student at the center, taught there from 2008 to 2016, and has since held yoga classes at numerous libraries and preschools around Nassau County.
“I knew she was looking for a place, and I thought, why reinvent the wheel?” Principe said of Bochilo. “We have all the props, and Anu and I only need the studio for the weekends. I’m elated to know that local people will still have a place to do their yoga.”
Bochilo, of Rockville Centre, said her business had reached a pinnacle near the end of 2019. She was teaching yoga to people of all ages at different venues, and couldn’t have been happier, she said. The pandemic, however, put a halt to all of her in-person classes.
“Right before the pandemic hit, my business was the best it had ever been,” Bochilo said. “Then, around mid-March last year, everything stopped.”
She decided to launch a YouTube channel, which focuses on different meditation techniques, chair yoga for seniors and children’s yoga. She also created a box of yoga cards with different exercises for kids to practice, called the Yoga Mindfulness Meditation Toolbox, and started selling them last November.
“The cards that I created were really to help children learn that self-regulation and resilience,” Bochilo explained. “Unfortunately, our children have had to learn how to be resilient and how to strengthen their mind, but also their mental well-being. These are skills that will serve them for a lifetime.”
Yoga classes will resume at the center on Sept. 8, with several new safety rules in place (above). Bochilo said she was happy to find a home for her program.
“I feel so humble, grateful and blessed, because it’s really full circle for me,” she said. “To start out as a student there, become a teacher, and now opening and running the studio, I feel blessed. I think now is the perfect time for the studio to be open, and for us to offer the tools that people need to navigate through life.”
A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Sept. 10, when residents can meet the teachers and check out the studio. Those interested in taking classes can register at www.peacefulyoga.net.