HOBOKEN, NJ – Yoga incorporates stretching and bending to find balance. Over the past two years, Hoboken's Urban Souls Yoga has had to do that and more just to survive.

Celebrating their 2nd anniversary this weekend, Urban Souls (100 Hudson Street, Hoboken) will offer a number of community events as they look to thank those who have rolled with them through the past two years. The open house is also an opportunity to introduce themselves to anyone who might be looking for a new studio as restrictions hopefully soon subside.

Urban Souls Yoga are currently at 25% capacity inside the studio to comply with all state laws, continue online classes, and will be participating in outdoor classes this spring. 

We had a chance to chat with co-founders Brendan Gibbons & Karen Flannery to talk about how they’ve kept going this past year, their response to COVID-19, and what they’re looking forward to in the future…

TAPinto Hoboken: We imagine it's been a tale of two years—how was the first year compared to the second year?

Urban Souls: Year one was so exciting and all about growth, building our studio, our community and our business. Year two was about acceptance, of COVID as well as its impact on our lives, our studio and our community. Both years were incredible in their own way and taught us a lot!

Our first year was amazing because we watched our dream become reality. Creating a supportive, inclusive, caring community was our main goal. We watched as close friend groups formed, romantic relationships blossomed and people came together to support one another. So by the time COVID hit, our studio had already formed a solid foundation, which turned out to be paramount to our survival. We were so happy with the way things were going but 11 months after the day we opened we were forced to close down.

We immediately had to pivot the business to something unfamiliar—Livestream Classes. At first, most members stayed with us, but there has been a loss of membership over the course of the year. Also, it was a challenge for both teachers and students to adjust to teaching and practicing virtually—in this new livestream format. We did a pretty good job but at the same time, we were basically thrown into survival mode operating a business that was built around community, now using Zoom.

Obviously COVID was a massive disruption. What made you decide to stay in business and go with the flow? 

Without a doubt, our community kept us going. Everything happened so fast we didn't have time to think about ourselves. In the early days our main concern was getting our classes online as quickly as possible. When we realized that it was going to be longer than a month or so, our community's well-being became our main focus. We needed to stay open and active. Keeping our focus on our community helped us deal with the pandemic on a personal level—and there was also a new community to serve. We knew that Frontline Workers were stressed out and keeping us safe, so we started offering free classes to all healthcare workers and first responders and had a huge response from groups of people that need yoga and meditation now more than ever. 

How have your clients responded to logistical changes in the practice?

Our community handled everything so much better than we could have imagined. Whether it was learning the ins and outs of Zoom, dealing with WiFi connectivity issues or even transitioning back to in-studio classes, they continuously surprise us. In fact, some people say that they really enjoy the convenience of being able to roll their mat out in their living rooms.  

What are you most looking forward to in your third year?

Like most people, we are really looking forward to a fresh start. Bringing folks back into the studio safely, while continuing to offer online options to those who aren't ready just yet. Also, by offering more ways for our community to connect and finding ways to give back to a community that has given us so much. And while we are excited about getting back to face-to-face interaction, we have also developed a wonderful system to teach both in-studio and livestream classes at the same time—so we now have a wonderful capability to serve a broader audience. 

Urban Souls 2-year Anniversary Open House kicks off Friday, April 16 with the 6PM Weekend Wine Down & ends Sunday, April 18th with the 5:30PM social.

  • Full weekend schedule:
      • 6PM Weekend Wine Down (In-studio & livestream)
      • 7PM FREE Social (in the park)
      • 9AM Urban Warriors (In-studio & livestream)
      • 10:30AM FREE Livestream Only Roll & Release
      • 12PM FREE Urban Warriors (In-studio & livestream)
      • 4PM Yin/Restore (In-studio & livestream)
      • 5:05PM Meditation (In-studio & livestream)
      • 7PM FREE The Awesome (In-studio & livestream)
      • 8PM Social (in the park)
      • 9:30AM Urban Warriors (In-studio & livestream)
      • 11AM Livestream Only Urban Oasis
      • 11:30AM FREE Urban Warriors (In-studio & livestream)
      • 4PM Energy Flow (In-studio & livestream)
      • 5:30PM Social (in the park)

CLICK HERE for more event details.

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