The Virginia Black Lifestyle Magazine (VBLM) recently had the opportunity to hold a socially distanced interview with Mrs. Marsha D. Banks-Harold, BSEE. Marsha holds the following certifications: E-RYT 500, RCYT, RPYT Director, IAYT Approved Holistic Yoga Therapy Training Program, Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT), Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga Facilitator (TCTSY-F), and is the owner of PIES Fitness Yoga Studio!
Our publisher has taken belly dance classes at PIES Fitness studio, and as you can see from Mrs. Banks-Harold's distinguished qualifications, PIES Fitness was the first establishment that came to mind, when conducting an interview that might help members of our village find their center...pun intended.
VBLM - How did you get started as a yoga practitioner and instructor?
I got started as a yoga practitioner because I was at a very low place in my life. Working as an electrical engineer in intellectual property, I had climbed the corporate ladder very quickly and was told that I needed to wait for the next level of promotion because it was unclear how I had arrived so prepared and so quickly to this point of being considered for the next level of promotion. I was devastated, since as a trailblazer I had always achieved what I wanted, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it.
"Yoga literally saved my life since I had no idea how to cope with this interruption of success."
I met a sister who introduced me to yoga and that was it. My first class with her I released some deep seeded trauma that I did not even know existed in my body, mind, and spirit. I signed up for yoga teacher training after one week of practicing, became a yoga teacher, opened my own yoga studio (now I own two yoga studios), became a trauma sensitive yoga teacher, became a yoga therapist, and now I am mentoring and certifying yoga teachers and yoga therapists.
I recognized the need for an inclusive, welcoming, and compassionate community so I created PIES Fitness Yoga Studio and my flagship class “My Body Don’t Bend That Way” grounded in the welcoming principle of accepting everyone for who they are and where they are in their life.
VBLM - Has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
My business has been severely impacted by COVID-19. As a social justice activist, my studios
have served as a safe haven for primarily marginalized communities, aging population clients, clients with medical and psychological conditions, trailblazers, professionals, clients new to yoga, and clients looking for a space where they simply can come as they are. A majority of my clients have not been able to participate in my classes due to the impact of COVID on their lives. Consequently the attendance and financial fortitude of my business has been significantly negatively impacted.
VBLM - What changes have you made as a response to COVID-19?
I’ve made numerous changes due to COVID-19. I’ve always prided myself in being resilient, however, COVID-19 has gifted me with an opportunity to really implement several layers more of resiliency. I’ve pivoted my business instantaneously on many occasions in order to continue to support my communities. I shifted my studio to a virtual format, I’ve formulated proposals to secure new contracts based on the loss of significant contracts, I’ve developed training programs, I’ve called many clients to check on them, I’ve taken supplies to clients homes, I’ve adjusted schedules many times to accommodate teachers and clients, I’ve supported myself, my husband and my four sons, I’ve pretty much done what ever has been needed to sustain myself and my business as much as I can, while continuing to operate from a thriving mindset perspective.
VBLM - What can you share with our readers about: continuing their yoga practice, and the benefits of yoga and meditation?
Without yoga and meditation during these times I am confident that I would have given up a long time ago. These tools are essential to our well-being and ability to thrive in devastating and successful periods of our lives. My recommendation is to prioritize your yoga and meditation practices. Of course, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to maintain a specific practice - do what you can based on where you are right now. For me some days my practice consists of simply taking a couple of deep breaths throughout the day. These deep breaths are literally life saving because they allow me to come back to a place of feeling centered and more peaceful. Don’t give up on yourself or on your yoga and meditation practice.
VBLM - How can our readers support your business?
Additional support would be appreciated by attending virtual classes (www.piesfitnessyoga.com) and by connecting with PIES Fitness Yoga Studio on social media:
twitter - @PiesFitnessYoga
Facebook - PIES Fitness Yoga Studio
PayPal - firstname.lastname@example.org
Instagram - @piesfitnessyoga.