Taking your yoga online

Taking your yoga online

Posted by Amber Phipps, 22-Apr-2020

As yoga teachers we know how to be flexible in body and mind, but the Coronavirus has challenged this adaptability in ways that none of us could have imagined. Whether we taught in studios, gyms, community centres or with groups of friends, we’ve each had to reinvent ourselves, and in many cases learn new skills in a matter of days.

This has meant teaching online – figuring out the technical issues of live streaming and working out our Zoom from our Loom (yes, that’s a thing too!)
while still looking after our families and keeping ourselves centred and sane.

Every day seems to bring about new challenges and hurdles to overcome. Yet change doesn’t have to be negative – there are positives that come from even
the bleakest situation and that is what we need to hold on to.

As an organisation IYTA has had to overcome its own issues – from quickly adapting the Diploma of Yoga Teaching course from a face-to-face learning environment to fully online with interactive lectures – somehow Astrid and Amy managed to do this with the support of the DYT lecturers and last weekend saw the latest IYTA DYT students adapting amazingly well to this style of learning.

We’ve all had to navigate this new world. Personally, I’ve been running live, online yoga classes via Zoom and have recorded classes too – it’s been a
roller-coaster ride. I’ve had moments where I’ve thought this will work and possibly prove even better than before and other moments when I’ve crumpled in a heap on my yoga mat feeling dejected and disheartened.

I’m certainly not an expert and I’ve been learning as I go, but here are ten things I’ve learnt from this experience so far…

    1. LIVE and ONLINE: Nothing beats live, online yoga classes. Sure pre-recorded classes are great but no substitute for the interaction
      and connection that you get in face-to-face classes. You can get this connection online – it is possible. A chat at the start of the class,
      a quick check-in during and a chat at the end of the class. Anyone who doesn’t want to talk can simply unmute themselves or switch their video off. Encourage your students to book classes with you – either as a course or a one off class or workshop and conduct the lesson by Zoom.
    2. COMMUNICATE: There’s a lot of free content out there, but it varies in quality.. Communicate with your students – tell them what you are planning to do and keep them informed. They are likely to feel stressed, uncertain and in need to routine and relaxation. Yoga is particularly important at this time for you and your students. Send out an email via your database (if you have one) and your Facebook page (if you have one).
    3. ZOOM:  This seems to have been the buzz word of the month. If you haven’t already, download it – it’s free. I’ve found this is the easiest platform to navigate – it’s here: https://zoom.us/downloadYou don’t have to  pay a membership but you can upgrade to the pro plan which is around $20 a month and means you will have up to 24 hour
      meeting/session times and up to 100 participants. The free version will switch off after around 40 minutes and you’ll have to schedule another
      meeting.
    4. HAVE A PLAY: Once you have Zoom – play around with it. There are videos on the Zoom website which will help you understand the features, and you can even book into a live webinar – these are in US times – so either in the middle of the night or at 8am! But it’s a great idea to experiment with a few friends on the site first. Have fun with it – you can create virtual backgrounds or upload a photo of your own for the background(great if you have kids running around or dishes piled up in the sink!).
    5. EQUIPMENT: Once you have your Zoom set up – you may need to purchase some equipment… this is a bit of a challenge as the world and its dog has bought every web cam and wireless microphone ever made… but if you do get hold of them great. If not, don’t worry! You can still do this with the camera on your device and the computer audio. It’s just a bit sharper and clearer with the web cam and microphone.
    6. LIGHTING: – this is very important. You don’t want to be in shadow – so play with the image that your students are likely to see. Put a light behind the camera to light up your face – and be mindful of the background. I’ve got a white screen door behind me – which you’d think would be great, but if the light is too strong then it creates a flickering effect. If you are using outdoor light then be mindful the lighting conditions will change and for consistency it might be better to close blinds and curtains and use indoor lighting. You don’t have to spend much, a spot light from Target or K-Mart might be all you need or just rummage around your house and nick everyone’s bedside lamps!
    7. YOUR YOGA SPACE: This about your studio set up or space – create a warm, uncluttered and inviting environment. Have your yoga props around and perhaps even your pet can join in!? My puppy Minty used to wait patiently at the door of my yoga studio while I taught and now she can curl up at my feet as I teach – she loves it and I’m sure it makes it a bit more entertaining and reassuring for my students!
    8. PRICING: Run a free trial class for your students – this way they are more likely to join you and it’s a good idea to keep to your usual yoga class days and times – so you retain the routine. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a huge response – everyone is dealing with their own stresses, it might just take a couple of messages to check in with them or a call to check they are ok. Decide if you want to continue to teach for free or add short video sequences online and then longer paid classes. There’s a lot of free content online, but we still need to make a living! You may want to continue to charge what you did for face-to-face or offer discounts if your students are suffering financial
      strain. It’s up to you.
    9. OTHER OPTIONS: You might like to try Instagram Live or Facebook Live – I’ve not had time to investigate these options. I do know that Facebook owns the content – so it’s important to bear that in mind when recording classes.  You can also record via Zoom or your device and then upload the videos on to Vimeo or You Tube. I’m still investigating these options! That’ll be my next blog
    10. BE YOURSELF: It won’t be perfect. Far from it. I’ve recorded and re-recorded lots of times – there’s the neighbour’s barking dog that is bound to go off when you do your Yoga Nidra or you’ll simply feel a bit odd delivering a class to a screen – you can still see your students on the gallery, but it is totally different to teaching face-to-face. You may even find that some classes are a bit easier – there’s no rent to pay and the commute is easy – good luck and remember to let us know how you go

We’ll be running regular blog posts*  like this one from Rebecca Lean on how some of our IYTA members are making that transition to virtual studios and online. We’ll include their advice and tips for what has worked and
hasn’t worked!

Check our IYTA Facebook andIYTA Instagram for updates and of course the May eNews and the next issue of International Light.

Adore Yoga’s Nikola Ellis has recorded a series of helpful short videos to get you started in your online journey. Here’s the link:

* please send your yoga transition story to editor@iyta.com.au

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