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Pandemic-hit yoga centres in Rishikesh now thriving

Dehradun/Haridwar: The outbreak of the Covid pandemic in 2020 dealt an unprecedented blow to the country's yoga capital, Rishidesh, as foreigners, the primary clientele of the town's yoga centres, stopped coming.
Of the 350-odd yoga centres in Rishikesh, several downed shutters.
To stay afloat, some turned to online classes. This, they say has turned into a lucky say has turned into a lucky break as they are doing booming business online and even the ones that had closed have taken to online classes as there is great demand for classes from Rishikesh-based experts.
Reva Smithson, a yoga trainer based in Rishikesh, said, "Earlier, we would wait for tourists to come to Rishikesh to learn yoga. 
However, when we shifted online due to the pandemic, we saw people all over the world were interested in learning from Rishikesh-based centres. Our business has flourished now and has become all-year-round instead of being dependent on tourist seasons. I train at least 1,000 people per day from all over the world and spend at least 5 hours a day taking online classes. She added that yoga teachers in Rishikesh are on an average now earning almost double of what they were earning in the pre-Covid times.
Echoing similar views, Vivek Tyagi, manager of Rishikesh-based Himalayan Yoga Association, said, "Before the pandemic struck, our yoga classes had a 20:80 ratio of Indians vis-a-vis foreigners but now it is 40:60. While the foreign clientele has increased, Indians have also become more health conscious after the pandemic and are increasingly switching to yoga." Rishika Panderkar, a Mumbai resident who works as a trainee at a Rishikesh-based institute, told , "Yoga is about universal brotherhood. It is not just about physical health, it entails the process of instilling divinity amongits doers to spread unity across the globe to serve and save every being from any kind of crisis."
Meanwhile, Sachin Palam, manager, World Peace Yoga School, Rishikesh, said, "Earlier, yoga enthusiasts would come to Rishikesh on a seasonal basis. Their numbers would decline considerably during the monsoon. However, Covid changed the situation. Now, students access our online classes throughout the year."
On the flip side though, Rishikesh-based yoga institutes are facing a tough competition from their American and European counterparts in the online space after the pandemic.
Akhilesh Bhatt, a yoga teacher who moved from Rishikesh to Chandigarh during the pandemic, said, "Those who want to attend physical classes pick a yoga centre in their city as it is more pocket-friendly. In the online space, European and American yoga institutes have a wider presence than Rishikesh-based centres. We have a long way to go.

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