New Year, Same Yoga

Some used yoga in 2020 to maintain mind and body in a stressful year.

Chelsea Duke. Photo courtesy Hard Core Yoga

Chelsea Duke and her husband, Jon, have five kids. Duke is also remodeling her home — painting her walls as she talks on her AirPods about her passion for yoga. Like most parents these days, she is also a part-time teacher. She also still teaches six days a week at the yoga studio Hard Core Yoga, which she opened in Eugene nine and a half years ago.

But Duke says yoga is the perfect escape from this stressful and busy life many have come to know. 

“All of the stress of the world melts away naturally when you set those things down and when you give your brain something to focus on,” Duke says. “And in this case it’s the physical movement of the practice, or steadiness of your breath, or the way that your hips feel, or the way you ground your feet into the mat, like all of these little things that are simple and pure.”

Hard Core Yoga on Willakenzie Road has gone remote due to COVID-19 restrictions, but its owner and students say yoga is the remedy to a chaotic existence that undoubtedly remains in 2021. 

When the first set of COVID lockdowns came down on Oregon in March, Duke admits closing down her studio of nine instructors was a “dark time.” But within two days, she pivoted classes to a virtual format. Hard Core Yoga now offers 16 classes a week available live or to play back any time within 24 hours. 

Duke says this format allows people with busy schedules to tune in any time they need to workout or unwind. She adds that they received many new students because “yoga is something that you can do anywhere without equipment, and there’s such beauty in that you don’t have to wait for a spin bike. I mean, you just need a mat.” 

Melissa Edwards, a student at Hard Core Yoga and OB/GYN at Women’s Care in Eugene, says that while she hasn’t been able to remain as faithful to her practice of yoga since the studio shut down in-person classes, she has been able to create a space in her home where she can be mindful and connect virtually with her instructor and fellow students. 

She adds that as a gynecologist she is “acutely aware of the connection between mind and body,” and that in her specific studies of trauma in the hips and pelvis, yoga can be incredibly helpful in relieving the stored tension that gatheras there. Edwards says, “there are few physical or mental health conditions that can’t benefit from practicing yoga on a regular basis.” 

For those scared off by the Hard Core portion of the studio’s name, Duke says that when she opened the location, it was intended to dispel the myth that yoga was all “hippie dippie and incense burning” but could actually be a great workout. 

Since opening the studio, she says she has since realized it has outgrown its name as it pushes even those weary of mindfulness and meditation techniques into developing regular meditation practices. Those people are now looking to dive even deeper into what yoga has to offer outside of just its physical merits. 

In 2021, Hard Core Yoga will probably see a name change, Duke said. That’s one of her New Year’s resolutions. Now Duke and Edwards hope you will make yoga one of yours.

Hard Core Yoga is located at 2508 Willakenzie Road. For more information visit

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