BALTIMORE (WMAR) — "We were just really trying to fulfill a need," Michele Bickley, co-creator of The Om Collective.
With lots of local yoga studios closing, and the need for the benefits of yoga increasing, two instructors got together to create an online community that’s also giving back.
"So many other studios closed and a lot of teachers I knew were out of work and really wanted to teach, and so many people need yoga and meditation right now because rates of depression and anxiety are sky rocketing," said Emily Plauché, co-creator of The Om Collective.
So earlier this month, Bickley from Arnold and Plauché from Catonsville launched The Om Collective, offering live yoga and wellness classes every day, along with ways to connect while staying socially distant. They have 17 teachers, most are local, along with 80 members so far.
"For me, yoga was one of the only things that I did for myself," said nurse Malorie Yealdhall.
Yealdhall immediately got on board. As an Anne Arundel Medical Center nurse, she has been working with COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic.
"It’s been a lot on me and my staff. Emotionally and physically, it’s hard," said Yealdhall.
She said the online classes have already helped so much, but it’s not just that. It was the opportunity to give back.
"We decided that we wanted to create an ecosystem of giving and receiving," said Plauché.
She purchased the first ‘Om Angel Membership': an unlimited membership for herself and for a person who needs it.
People who are in need but want to get into yoga can apply for a scholarship and members who are able can sponsor them.
"I can't even put into words how much that means to me," said Jill Atcheson, the first Om Angel Scholarship recipient.
Atcheson from Reiserstown has been is fighting lung cancer for a year and a half. Even with insurance, she’s had to pay a lot out of pocket so this gift allows her to be able to do what she loves without a financial burden.
"Yoga has always been a part of my healing journey and I definitely felt that void earlier this year. Being able to come back to having a virtual yoga practice is really really critical to me," said Atcheson.
"It’s amazing to hear how much she’s benefiting from something that to me was simple to do," said Yealdhall.
One act of paying it forward, that will no doubt have a ripple effect, exactly what it’s all about.
"I feel as though one life has been touched and because of that, I'll be able to touch many and one day, I will pay it forward for the next person," said Atcheson.
"It’s a way that we can all give back to each other and create this sense of community that I think we are all missing," said Plauché.
They have gifted scholarships for 4 people so far. You can apply for a full or partial scholarship online.