“Through yoga I’ve learned to take a moment to breathe when faced with an unfavorable situation—Covid-19, in this instance,” says Katie Melancon, who like EAC’s other yoga instructor, Lilli Danaea, has continued to meet weekly with her students via Zoom since the EAC building closed in March. “No longer being able to be face to face with my weekly yogis was discouraging. Rather than give up on that weekly connection, we moved online. Most students are able to tune in, and those that can’t make it will typically message me with a wonderful outdoor activity they have planned, which is so beneficial as well!

Katie in Warrior II, as seen in a June Zoom class.

In recent weeks, Katie’s weekly session (Saturday mornings, 8:30-9:30 am, email anchorandbalanceyoga@gmail.com for link and info) has been based on study of the body’s chakras, or energy centers, with postures beneficial to each week’s focus area. Coming up in tomorrow’s class, the third eye chakra—associated with enlightenment, intuition and knowledge—will be the theme.
“In addition to those previously attending at EAC, I have a bunch of good friends tuning in from Florida along with my in-laws, also in Florida. One of these friends I’ve known since kindergarten, and this is the first time she’s seen me teach and been a part of our group. The energy was really there this past Saturday (pictured above). It has truly warmed my heart being able to still connect or start to connect to everyone Saturday mornings. And we find that breath. In and out …”
Born and raised in New York state, Katie started practicing yoga in 2010 in New York. She moved to the Bradenton/St Petersburg area of Florida in 2013, and became certified to teach yoga in 2016. She has lived in Pembroke, Maine, since 2017.

“Teaching at the Eastport Art Center has been a joy,” says Lilli, who teaches two Tuesday classes: Zoom (8:30-9:30 am, email lillireally@gmail.com for link and info) and outdoor (at Hope’s Haven Farm in Pembroke, 1 pm). “When it was clear that holding classes [at EAC] would need to be put on pause due to the pandemic it didn’t take too long to open to the idea of offering the classes via Zoom. Technical challenges have thankfully been minor (though they do occasionally occur!) and it has continued to be a positive way to connect with others and hold a supportive space during the challenging times we are in.
“The outdoor class in Pembroke (in its very beginning stages) has been an additional way to practice safely together with the added bonus of being able to receive all the nourishment and healing qualities of being outside in nature.

An Eastport resident since June 2018, Lilli grew up in coastal Petaluma, California. She was introduced to yoga and meditation in her late teens. “My initial draw to yoga stemmed from a passion for dance and movement, though I soon discovered that the benefits of emotional and mental balance went hand in hand with the physical practice of yoga.
Lilli obtained her Yoga Teacher Training certificate via a San Francisco-based program which emphasized Mindfulness Meditation and a focus on simple postures and practices.
“The classes I offer aim to give individuals the opportunity to learn how to more deeply inhabit their bodies, to feel safe in doing so and hopefully gain a better appreciation of being human, in all our complexities.”

‘Namaste,’ says yoga-lover Treena Brunelle

“I started practicing faithfully with Katie about 3 years ago when she first started … and then I joined Lilli when she started,” says Eastporter Treena Brunelle, who attends both of EAC’s weekly yoga Zooms, and came out to try Lilli’s outdoor session (pictured above) in Pembroke this past week.
“I am very grateful to Katie and Lilli for offering yoga classes via Zoom early on. There was a certain comfort of practicing with the yogis I practiced with prior to the pandemic … and even meeting new faces … all practicing together. Our new norm of seeing that Brady Bunch-style Zoom screen was learned fast. For those friends that did not have access to Zoom, I brought [the technology] to them in an outside environment. We all adapted. I look forward to my time with Katie and Lilli—on my mat … sharing practice … feeding my mind body and soul. Namaste!”

A past yoga class with Lilli in EAC’s downstairs space. Photo by Robin Farrin of Coastal Maine Photography

Another popular yoga teacher in the area is Samantha Williams. In addition to twice weekly Zoom-based sessions (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10-11 am, email boldcoastyoga@gmail.com for link and more info), Sam leads outdoor sessions at West Quoddy Light ‘most Fridays.’ “It’s been a pleasure to hold a space for connecting with others and supporting the practice of yoga during these times,” says Sam. “Learning how to use the microphone and camera was certainly interesting, but I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to continue our classes safely.”

Sam Williams practicing en plein air