Going om-line

Posted by Katie Brown, 12-May-2020

Life during Covid-19 has been challenging for yoga teachers. We’ve lost a huge slice of our income and swapped face-to-face classes for online Zoom sessions… in our new blog series we ask IYTA yoga teachers how they’ve coped…

 Here’s Charmaine’s story

Before Covid-19, life consisted of several yoga classes that I taught within the community. My students were dedicated and I was busy travelling and teaching at a variety of centres including a semi-retirement village and fitness centre.

 

I’d recently set up a Yoga studio at home, which had been long wish of mine.  A humble shed, decked out with carpet and beautiful colours and a yoga energy that was slowly starting to build in the room with three weekly classes. Things were going beautifully – then the virus hit…

 

Most of my students are aged over 60 and many aren’t even on Facebook.  I had two classes in the evening a week – one was a meditation class and the other was a morning yoga session.

 

The virus put a stop on all of my classes right from the beginning and I no longer had those face-to-face connections with people. This was challenging as I am such a people person. I felt challenged emotionally and mentally.

 

Not only were the daily interactions taken away, I had no income at all. Everything just came to a complete standstill.

I gave myself some time to collect my thoughts before embracing the new challenges before me.

 

At first the transition going from face-to-face classes to Zoom meetings was a big challenge.   Mostly in my mind though.  Because once I started it was much easier than I’d first thought.  My sister-in-law helped me step-by-step with Zoom and I mostly taught myself as we so often do when faced with challenges.

 

I believe humans are very adaptable when we put our minds to it.  It was the fear of the unknown, I guess…

 

The first thing was to get my head around how I was going to do this. The wi-fi didn’t reach the Yoga room, so I really had to compromise on space in my home especially with the children aged 16 and 14, now at home doing all their on-line schooling!

 

After downloading Zoom, which of course was a simple process. I taught myself by practicing with the family and scheduling Zoom meetings with family members.  I thought it was really important to create a nice space in my living area to take the classes.

 

I created a sacred corner filled with light, a plant, salt lamp, incense and crystals.  My meditation cushion and a shawl.  Making sure the mood was set for myself and the students.  Having an atmosphere was important in that transition process. It involved moving furniture and simply focussing on what I intended to do.

 

The next step for me was to let all my students know through Facebook or a text that I was running classes on line through Zoom.  Some of my students I helped as this was also a challenge and something new for them to do.  It was very exciting and a humbling experience when so many were patiently waiting for me to be ready.

 

I’m not sure why this kind of way of teaching challenged me at first.

Now I have embraced it, I do look forward to those Zoom classes.

 

The first class I did was a Yoga Nidra and I did these for free as I just felt everyone needed it so much after the shock and realisation of the new ways of being we were all faced with now.  I had to practice yoga daily so that I could re-connect to my energy source.

 

Apart from the Zoom classes the next most challenging aspect has been not seeing all the beautiful faces of the students who turned up every week to do the classes.

 

The interaction during the class and keeping my eye on them and the chats after the class and before, even if it was a quick five minute catch-up.  That exchange of energy between myself and everyone is what I miss most.

 

Also not being able to see what students are doing is challenging, as some have the cameras off during our Zoom classes and that’s ok.  I am learning to be more flexible and trusting in the process.

 

So now I am running a regular Yoga Nidra class through Zoom weekly on a Monday evening and to my surprise there are so many people joining in!  More people than I could fit in my yoga studio.!

 

Yoga Nidra has been quite successful.  And every week day I run two yoga classes, one of which is a one-on-one class.  I am so much more flexible now for classes because I am more available on-line.   Being more flexible has been a big positive for me, and trusting the new process.

 

It has been important for me to let my students know that I am here, and that I am continuing to keep a routine for them as well as myself and that I haven’t disappeared under the fear of the unknown.

 

Believing in myself was a challenge, because I genuinely had fears of not doing it right.  So keeping things simple and practicing awareness of oneself has helped me through this transition.  Yoga once again has helped on a mental and emotional level.

 

Keeping my energies balanced and focussed to take the class is more important than ever now. This is a different kind of energy for me.  I normally would avoid being on my phone a lot.  Instead of fearing the phone, I have learned that the phone is a much-needed tool for me now.

 

A new schedule emerged, instead of being in my car going from one venue to another, I could now put that energy into marketing on line, and channel my energies here at home.

 

I have dedicated certain days to Facebook time and scheduling Zoom meetings.  There is quite a bit to do with making sure everyone is sent the links and that people have made their payments.

 

Marketing on social media is different and time consuming in a different way. The ways I do this vary.  Yoga plays a big role in bringing balance to my energies. So I make sure I practice yoga and meditation daily.  Stillness is also very important.

 

There are many positives to come out of the restrictions at present.  For me being more present than ever in the here and now is felt more deeply and a sense of less rushing around.  I actually have taken a step back and seen how busy and rushed I was! Yoga students are also sending positive feedback.  Many of them are enjoying the Zoom classes in their own homes and feel they are going deeper with their practice.

 

I look forward to the Zoom classes and it gives a sense of purpose.  Bringing Yoga to people with passion, just in a different way.  I am still learning.  The important thing is being flexible and open to learning.  I love that Yoga gave me the tools to help with this transition.  It was inside me all along.  I just had to believe I could do it.

 

I’m looking forward to the next part of the journey.  Also looking forward to the light when we come away from the other side of these restrictions and resume to human interaction in a way that fills our souls, that no Zoom class can replace.  Aum Shanti

Charmaine Harris, aged 49, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Charmaine completed her Yoga Diploma at Rocklyn Ashram and has been teaching for around 12 years. You can find her on

 Facebook at: Yoga and You with Charmaine

Instagram: Yoga and you with Charmaine

 

 

 

 

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