graphic of person doing yoga in front of laptop surrounded by plants Courier Newsroom Illustration/Desirée Tapia

A local therapy practice is offering coronavirus-specific group therapy, while a Phoenix yoga studio is offering interactive online classes.

Thrive Therapy, a therapy practice focused on mental health with locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, is offering free weekly online support group sessions meant to help people manage anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic

Colter Bloxom, a therapist and co-owner of the practice, said the sessions will offer live Q&A sessions with mental health professionals and teach participants tools for dealing with uncertainty. 

“The goal is to help people utilize some tools that we use in therapy to help with gaining some space from their anxiety and clarifying some of their values about what they want to do with this time,” Bloxom said. 

Anyone who is interested can sign up on the group’s website. It costs $10 to join, but the promo code “PRESENT” allows for free registration. Participants will then receive an email link to the group calls, which are held Wednesdays at noon. Thrive will also record the calls so people can watch them at a later time. 

Thrive Therapy is considered an essential business and is still open for in-person appointments under Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order, but it does also offer the option of therapy over the phone.

Bloxom noted that anyone who feels they may need more individualized therapy beyond the group sessions can check out the practice’s regular services, including a low-cost option. People who meet certain income requirements can meet with master’s student interns for $25 per session. 

While people are stuck at home, Bloxom said it’s important to remember that during this time of social distancing, it’s okay to take some time to reset and not be productive. 

“I think in America we’re really focused on efficiency and advancing, and that’s making this time really hard right now, because we don’t get to do that as much,” Bloxom said. 

“Sometimes it’s okay to be responding to what life is giving you by slowing down a little bit, and I think that’s really hard for us,” he added.

Interactive Yoga Classes Offer Community

The owners of Elevate Yoga and Wellness in Phoenix wanted to stay open as long as they could to offer people healthy activities and a sense of normalcy during a crisis.

But as more information about the virus came out and more customers said they would be staying home, owners Amber Lopez and Brandi Boers decided to close their doors, before Gov. Ducey had even ordered all gyms to shut down. 

Lopez and Boers said they took three days to build an online platform for members and nonmembers alike, where people can join group video chats and tune into three live yoga classes per day. 

Unlike some studios that just offer pre-recorded videos, Elevate’s owners said these group calls give yogis a chance to interact before and after class, and for instructors to offer feedback and help anyone who is struggling with a pose.

The live classes, which include slow restorative yoga, more intensive yoga flows, meditation, and a virtual first Friday dance party, are recorded and posted for people who couldn’t make it. 

“[The online classes are] for anybody–anybody who needs an outlet to do their yoga practice, needs to move, or just needs a community to bond with,” Boers said. 

People who were already members of the studio can access the online classes for free. Those who aren’t members can sign up on the studio’s website. Lopez and Boers suggest a price of $25 per week but note that they consider it a “pay what you can” model. Anyone wanting to pay a different price can contact them to discuss. 

Beyond this income, Boers said Elevate has applied for a COVID-19 relief loan that will help them to continue paying their staff. “Our biggest concern was just making sure that the people we have working for us, our instructors … that they can get paid,” she said.

During this time of uncertainty, Lopez recommended finding a way to work activity into daily routines, while Boers recommended using meditation and breath work to keep calm. To encourage that, Elevate is offering a 10-day challenge starting April 6 to try to help people keep both movement and self-care in their lives at this time.

Lopez said people should also remember that just because a stay-at-home order is in place, doesn’t mean that healthy people with no known exposure to the virus can’t go outside and be active. 

“Just move,” she said. “Just because we’re all social distancing does not mean you have to stay inside your home. It does not mean that you cannot walk outside and get sun.”