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But almost a year later, Paris Yoga has subscribers from around the world who join in daily classes and have become a part of the yoga community Paris has built.
“At first it was really about what I could do to survive,” she explains. “I went from having classes seven days a week to absolutely nothing, with very little notice, and we had no idea then how long it was going to last.
“I know how much the classes help people not just physically but mentally and obviously we were going through a tough time so that was on my mind as well. People were using it as a coping mechanism for stress, fatigue, anxiety, and I just wanted a way to stay practicing with them.”
Paris, who’s originally from Walton, started by setting up a website with recorded classes before adding some donation-based classes to raise funds for domestic violence charity Refuge.
“That opened up this whole new reach for me because it was shared on social media and I got to connect with people all over the world which was incredible.
“I was faced with a decision then because there was this whole community that had got behind the classes who were asking if there was anywhere else they could find them because they loved them and wanted to continue.
“Zoom was great but I couldn’t see how I could manage that long term so I decided to create the app. I hired a team of app developers and I had this clear vision of what I wanted it to be based on the feedback I’d had from people who’d attended the classes.”
Keen to get it out as soon as possible, 31-year-old Paris worked 14-hour days for three weeks, filming all of the classes so it was ready to launch on the App Store and Google Play in July.
“I describe the app as like a Netflix for wellbeing because it’s not just a series of yoga classes, there’s yoga, meditation, and podcasts where I have guests talking about things like how to develop a strong mindset and resilience.
“The reach just started getting bigger and bigger and we’ve now got users as far as Australia, the US, Dubai and Costa Rica.
“When we got our first Aussie user, I put it on my Instagram and within 10 minutes I had a DM and she said, ‘it’s me, I listened to your podcast about mindset and I was so inspired, I love your app and I’ve told my friends.’ All of a sudden Australia kept showing up, I couldn’t believe it.
“I actually check every day because it’s so exciting to see a new flag appear that shows where someone is from and I’ve got a little mini globe that I put little pins in!”
The majority of Paris’s app users are women, with an age range from 18-50.
“There’s a big demographic of women in particular who’ve reached out and said they used to come to classes but they’ve had babies and can’t get out to the studio anymore so now they do the app when they kids have gone to bed. Or people who are working from home and haven’t got time in the morning to go to the studio but they can get a practice in at home.
“People are keen to get on their mats but it can be a big commitment if you lead a busy life so my classes are tailored to all different timescales. I always stress that it doesn’t matter if it’s 6 mins or 60 mins, it just matters that you show up.”
Paris admits it was a leap of faith to launch the app in a crowded market, but she took belief from the positive feedback she had after those first Zoom practices.
“I had faith that those people would support me and I’m so proud of them, we have an amazing community now of people who’ve supported me from day one and they love seeing it grow like I do.”
Every week since July Paris has released a new class on a Sunday, with a theme for every month – May is meditation month, last month was focused around sleep, and the month before was yoga for anxiety.
“I’ve tried to theme it to what people are going through right now and I’ve added features so they can favourite classes and stream them directly to their TV from their phone to create a little zen den at home.”
As well as adding more pins to her globe of users, Paris says it’s her goal to connect with as many people as possible, teaching them yoga and meditation in a kind and compassionate way to help them face whatever they’re going through in their day-to-day life.
“I love the idea that if someone’s having a stressful day they can think, I finish in 10 minutes and then I’m going to open up my app and everything’s going to be OK again.”
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