Yoga for The Win

Written By Tiara Strong, For The Globe

Dominique Ponko, owner of five “Yoga Flow” locations in Pittsburgh, was hit hard by the effects of COVID-19, but was able to get back up with the support from her loyal clientele.

 Amie Henry, owner of “I am Yoga Pittsburgh,” in Squirrel Hill, is another yoga studio owner that has been able to sustain itself through the COVID-19 pandemic with the versatility of her online classes and dedicated students.

 Megan Flinn, a yoga instructor at Garfield’s “One Point One Yoga,” has continued to push through the COVID-19 pandemic by utilizing the sense of community within the yoga studio, and by switching to virtual sessions.

Yoga studios were one of the groups of businesses deemed non-essential and forced to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they have lost the physical essence of being in the studio, that energy is still transferable through virtual classes. The yoga studios have all attributed their sustainability to the outpouring of love and support from their loyal client base and communities. 

Since the initial shutdown in March of 2020, many yoga studios across the Pittsburgh region have been able to stay afloat. On June 7, 2020, the shutdown was lifted and yoga studios allowed to reopen as long as they abide by state regulations and CDC guidelines. Those yoga studios attribute their success to the dedication of their yoga students and love from their communities.

“My doors flew open,” Ponko said.

 Ponko has studios in Aspinwall, Irwin, Murrysville, Shadyside and South Hills. The monthly rent for all five locations is a total of $18,000. With the initial lockdown, Ponko became about $50,000 in debt. However, things turned around for her when the restrictions were lifted after the initial shutdown, and her studios reopened.

Due to the pandemic, Ponko now has virtual classes via Zoom available in addition to in-person classes. She understands how hectic things are right now and wants her students coming in  to relax. She says that she is an advocate for setting your stage anywhere,focusing on your breath and allowing the mind, body and soul to connect.

“I definitely recommend to have a space you can go to have me time,” Ponko said.

 Amie Henry’s studio is doing a mix of in-person and virtual classes. Henry has a dedicated clientele who have stuck with her through the pandemic. To comply with safety guidelines, the studio implemented a few classes a week that are small in size on top of virtual classes. Virtual classes have not stopped Henry and her instructors from making that connection with their students.

“We created an atmosphere that made you feel like you are there,” Henry said.

When “One Point One Yoga,” in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood was hit by the first lockdown due to COVID-19, the studio looked different physically. Flinn initially saw a decline in clients when going virtual. When the initial shutdown was lifted, not all students returned in person. 

“We’ve seen a few decreasing clients because I think people are afraid,” Flinn said.

Although “One Point One Yoga” has seen a few clients disappear, they have still been able to sustain themselves.There are more private sessions or groups of two or three friends taking classes. The studio has also made many efforts to limit the amount of touching of things such as exercise balls. Everyone of course has to wear masks. This studio attributes their continued sustainability to their loyal clients.

“Honestly, the biggest thing that kept us open is the fact that our studio base is very dedicated,” Flinn said.

Debbie Vignovic, owner of “The Yoga Whole” in Mount Lebanon, is fortunate enough to own her building and not have worries about rent. Her studio is unique because she lives in her building. Vignovic has a small studio, but she has been able to retain her regular yoga clients through the pandemic.  

“I don’t have a lot of clients, but I have a lot of loyal clients,” Vignovic said.

Vignovic’s yoga studio is unique, as she also offers birth doula services to expecting couples and will be there throughout the labor and delivery with her clients. This is the one service that has taken a hit because services are no longer needed post-delivery. There is always fluctuation in clients in that department which trickle down to other types of yoga.

“Once you have the baby, you don’t need prenatal yoga anymore,” Vignovic said.

Leta Koontz, owner of “Schoolhouse Yoga,” with two locations, one in Squirrel Hill and the other in North Hills, saw class attendance drop after the first lockdown. However, the instructors and owner put a lot of effort into retaining yoga students through personalized virtual sessions.

Students have told us that being able to attend yoga classes has been a lifeline for them during this challenging time,” Koontz said.

With new restrictions that went into effect Dec. 12, 2020, “Schoolhouse Yoga” had little time to prepare since they found out about the new restrictions when the public did. However, they knew a lockdown would be coming soon and went back to virtual classes.

Attributing their sustainability to a loving community, “The Om Lounge” was able to survive the first shutdown and will survive the second one enforced on Dec. 12, 2020. Suzanne Nagel, the creative director and founder of the studio was already ahead of the curve when the first shutdown order was enforced back in March of last year.

“Originally, when it first happened in March, I had already thought to myself that virtual classes would be a nice component to add to the studio,” Nagel said.

Nagel had already set up virtual classes about three days shy of the initial shutdown. Although her loyal students continued with her studio online, Nagel lost all of her in-person revenue with the shutdown. The studio opened back up for in-person classes under new restrictions and health guidelines on June 7, 2020.  Nagel had already invested in preventive measures such as UVC lamps and disinfectant practices. Nagel said that she immediately began to feel the love and support from her community.

“Some students even bought gift cards, but they didn’t have to because they still had their membership passes,” Nagel said.

Claire Baer, a teacher and owner of “Yoga Innovations” in Bethel Park, was coming off of a successful end of 2019 financially. That came to a halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This caused her studio to quickly shift to online platforms when the initial shutdown took place in March of 2020. Baer took a hit financially with only a small percentage of her pre-existing clientele returning.  Baer even hit a point where some teachers volunteered to teach classes virtually for no pay. However, Baer was still able to sustain her business.

“There is that 20% that would still practice with me if the studio opens,” Baer said.

The yoga studio began to post yoga sessions online. Although the amount of viewers decreased on the live sessions, the views went up on the recordings. Baer does continue to fight for her students, herself and because she has two young children looking up to her.

“I know how much coming to practice yoga in my space means to them,” Baer said.

Yoga Studio
Phone Number
One Point One Yoga 4929 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Yoga Flow Pittsburgh Aspinwall- 345 Freeport Rd.
Irwin-7830 Rt. 30
Murrysville- 4604 William Penn HWY
Shadyside-5433 Walnut Street
South Hills- 250 Mt. Lebanon Blvd.
I am Yoga Pittsburgh 1701 Murray Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
No Number
[email protected]
The Yoga Whole 360 Broadmoor Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Schoolhouse Yoga 7210 McKnight Rd. #3502
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Yoga Innovations 102 Broughton Rd.
Bethel Park, PA 15102
The Om Lounge Yoga & Wellness 218 N. Highland Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206



  1. One Point One Yoga, Megan Flinn, 347-306-3360
  2. Yoga Flow Pittsburgh, Dominique Ponko, 724-733-5038
  3. I Am Yoga Pittsburgh, Amie Henry, 412-760-3436
  4. The Yoga Whole, Debbie Vignovic, 412-389-0183
  5. Schoolhouse Yoga, Leta Koontz, 412-401-4444
  6. The Om Lounge, Suzanne Nagel, 412-352-4915
  7. Yoga Innovations, Claire Baer,724-914-3297