Yoga Hero: Teachers Podcast

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7: Teaching Yoga as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

This episode explores what could, and might, happen as the coronavirus pandemic restrictions start to lift in the UK, meaning that in-person classes can take place.

We’ll be looking at what that could mean for live or on-demand virtual classes, for face to face classes and for hybrid offerings.

We’ll also break down how to decide how you should teach your yoga, to best serve your yogis, to earn a fair income, to enjoy your teaching and to protect yourself should things change again in the future. 

Useful links:

Podcast 6: Sharing your yoga

This podcast looks at different ways to share your yoga; e.g. classes, workshops, courses, etc, as well as online and in-person. This will be a useful listen if you’re wondering where and how to focus your energy and time as restrictions ease.

How to Teach Yoga Online Course

Embarking on a yoga teacher training course, and starting to teach yoga, can be an absolutely huge step out of many people’s comfort zones…. however due to the Coronavirus pandemic, yoga teachers have had another nudge (or shove!) further out of their comfort zones as social distancing and isolation has demanded that yoga classes move online.

Teaching yoga online, of course, shares many of the skills and requirements needed to teach ‘in-person’ classes, however, there’s a lot of additional things to think about.

With that in mind, join Holly for this course which covers:

  • Set up – what equipment to consider purchasing, any why, such as camera / cameras, microphone etc, and how to go about this if you are on a budget 
  • Software – Zoom, Facebook and Instagram live, other options, and the pros and cons of these
  • How to teach safely – how to improve the clarity of your instructions, ensuring your classes suitable to all (or many!)
  • Gaining confidence – how to slowly but surely gain confidence teaching yoga via this new medium
  • Promoting your online yoga – it’s important to make a living as a yoga teacher! Some obvious, and less obvious, ways to increase traffic to your online classes
  • Steps to get started – a suggested set of steps to reduce indecision and to just get cracking teaching your yoga online!

We hope you love it! If you do, we’d be so grateful if you’d subscribe / follow, and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

Listen to ‘Teaching Yoga as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease’ where you get your podcasts:

Transcript for Podcast 7: Teaching Yoga as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

This episode explores what could, and might, happen as the coronavirus pandemic restrictions start to lift in the UK, meaning that in-person classes can take place. We’ll be looking at what that could mean for live or on-demand virtual classes, for face to face classes and for hybrid offerings. We’ll also break down how to decide how you should teach your yoga, to best serve your yogis, to earn a fair income, to enjoy your teaching and to protect yourself should things change again in the future. 

Let’s first of all look at the status quo, as recently as 18 months ago.

Most studios offered in-person classes – of course – studios are physical spaces so it makes sense for the bulk of the offering to make best use of that. And usually any online offering was where it really made a lot of sense – for example when people were scattered over a large geographical area, or classes and trainings were recorded, so that people could watch and learn in their own time.

For the last 15 months or so, most studios and teachers have been solely online. 

This has had a huge impact on studios and teachers; locality hasn’t really been a factor anymore, and unless teachers have had a niche area where their knowledge is really deep, or a hugely dedicated following, most teachers have been forced to differentiate their classes based on price. In fact, that’s really one of the main reasons behind starting this podcast, to try to show yoga teachers that you can get people to your classes in ways other than just being the cheapest. 

So, as restrictions lift, will things go back to how they were 18 months ago? 
I’m not sure that that’s what will happen. 

As we discussed in Podcast 6, online really works for some teachers and some people, and it really doesn’t work for others. I think this will continue to be the case even as face to face classes resume. There will be some people who will love to continue practising online, for example, people want to practice in their PJs, first thing in the morning, before jumping in the shower, so online would work for them. There’ll be some people who will be wary about going out in to the world; those with underlying health conditions for example, so again, online would work for them. But similarly, there’s lots of people who maybe haven’t clicked with online yoga, or don’t have the hardware, or space, or intention to practice at home, who will be keen to get back to face to face classes. 

Let me add to that a bit more, my intention is to add to this in a way that can help you work out where to put your energy. 

Before the first lockdown, when you were teaching yoga, think about where you were teaching and who was coming. For example, were you teaching in a gym, where the people who were coming were members and they stayed for a coffee afterwards? If so, this experience isn’t easily replaced by online, so you could assume that if the class were to restart, that your regulars would return. 

However, if before the first lockdown, you were mainly teaching pregnancy yoga, as pregnant people are considered clinically vulnerable, you, and they, might feel it best to continue pregnancy yoga online, from the safety of their own home. 

Of course, these are just examples, I’m trying to get your cogs turning in the background, about who you teach, what you teach, and where you teach. 

Let’s leave those cogs turning in the background, and I’ll go back to my thoughts, my predictions a bit more about what might happen over the next few months. 

I think, in the main, people will be itching to get back to in-person classes. As humans we’re usually social creatures, even the introverts among us crave social contact and being with others. For many, yoga is far beyond a form of fitness; it’s a part of life or a way of life, that we share with likeminded folk who become friends and part of our community. Over the last 15 months or so, that has been missing and I know many of our yoga heroes are keen to fill that gap; to be in a calming studio space, seeing friendly faces and practising with others. So, with that in mind, if possible for you, you may want to fully explore teaching a couple of weekly face to face classes. The next podcast episode is all about what to look for when renting a space out. I’ll cover what to look for when you’re considering a space to rent, with COVID-considerations too, so do look out for that. 

Along with, or instead of, teaching face to face, let’s look at online options; in short, there’s live,  i.e. streaming your class live using something like Zoom or Instagram Live, or Facebook Live. And then there’s on demand; having a library of classes or offerings that people can watch whenever they like. This could be free, say on YouTube or IGTV, or paid, via something like Vimeo or Patreon for example. My view, is that on-demand content will need to be really high quality. if you’ve ever searched for something on YouTube, let’s say – how to re-pot a spider plant, and the presenter sounds like she’s recorded the video in a gale, or she’s accidentally left her microphone at the other side of the room, you’ll stop that video and you’ll find another. I think that’s what will happen – if it doesn’t already – with on-demand content, and possibly… probably… with live online classes too. As a side note, Yoga Hero has a ‘How to teach yoga online’ course which covers the basics to check that your classes are of a good visual and sound quality, I’ll link to it in the show notes, that might a good place to start if you’re thinking of creating some content. 

So let’s summarise so far. Face to face classes are starting again in the UK, albeit socially distanced, and I think people, in the main, will be itching to get back to seeing happy faces and to practising with others in a dedicated space. However, face to face classes won’t work for everyone and some will prefer online, so yoga teachers who are focusing on online will still, I’m sure, be able to make a living. There’s a further decision making process about whether to offer live, or on-demand classes, or both, but either way, they will need to be of a good quality. 

I think because people are looking forward to getting back to face to face classes; anything and everything – within reason – will likely be well attended. But with online, the key I think, will be to differentiate your classes from the wide range and huge amount already available. I think differentiating your classes, by creating classes aimed at niche audiences, would be very sensible indeed. Podcast 5 – finding your yogis – is all about how to determine who your audience is or could be, and how to reach them. I would argue that when offering online content, your audience can’t be too tightly focused, as long as you have the time, mental bandwidth and energy to find your audience. For example, let’s say you go through the steps from podcast 5, and you have refined your offering right down ‘yoga for people running their first marathon’ – because you’re online, you could be talking to, and teaching, people in Australia, the US, Africa, all across Europe etc, who are planning to run their first marathon. You’re not limited by geography so the potential for your audience is international, as long as the quality of your offering is good and you put the effort in to finding and communicating with your audience. 
So there’s lots of potential in face to face as well as online (both live and on-demand) classes. 

But we can’t do everything. 

So you need to work out what’s best for you, and for your yogis. Do listen to podcast 5 if you haven’t already, because the steps in there will help you determine what’s best for your yogis. But consider your needs and wants, too. If you crave social contact, you buzz off teaching in-person, and your classes are really responsive to who’s in front of you, you’ll want to put your energy in to connecting with studios or renting a place out – by the way podcast 6 is all about different ways to share your yoga, so give that a listen if you haven’t already because that will help you create a list of potential places and ways to teach face to face. 

But, if you are technically savvy, and you’re really keen to build a library of classes that your yogis can enjoy at their leisure, maybe you’ve been a yoga teacher for a while and lived in a few different places, and actually teaching online has allowed you to reconnect with yogis that you’ve taught over the years, then online is best for you. 
Remember, you don’t have to choose one or the other, you can do both, you just need to factor in ALL the work that goes with each, and make sure that you have the time, energy and mental bandwidth to honour all your offerings. 

  • Face to face likely includes travel time, maybe opening up the space, checking people in, possible providing equipment, maybe some cleaning time too etc.
  • Live online includes setting up the technology, maybe zoom, checking the visual and sound quality and watching out for emails or messages from anyone that hasn’t got the details for the class.
  • Recording includes possibly some re-takes, setting up lighting, cameras, sounds equipment, editing, processing and uploading time, etc.
  • They all involve class planning, promotion time, some admin. 

You’ll also know where your heart lies, and where your skills are. If there’s something that you dread – for example you’re super camera-shy, if possible, just don’t do that! If there’s something that inspires you, that you look foreword to, concentrate on that. Balance all this out with where the money comes from – podcast 1 is how to generate an income from teaching yoga, even if you’ve already listened to that podcast, if might be worth going back to now that things are changing. 

Lastly, I promised to talk about hybrid classes. In many ways these are so sensible. Studios and teachers in the main have struggled financially over the past year or so, so if you’re renting a space out; just paying one lot of rent but being able to generate an income from people that are physically in front of you as well as people who are joining you online, is a very sensible option. My reservations, personally and professionally, are that I worry that because it’s not fully in person, nor fully online, it’s not a full experience for either audience. As a teacher of a hybrid class, you might be partly trying to check everyone on the screen is ok, whilst also looking at the 3D bodies in front of you, as well as all the things that come with teaching such as monitoring music if you’re using it, monitoring the temperature, remembering your sequence, your left and right, keeping an eye on the time etc etc. I think it could really be a lot for a teacher, and I would be concerned that the physical people who are in front of you don’t benefit from practising in the same room as the teacher as they don’t get personalised alignment cues, but the people who are online feel like an after thought. This is only my opinion, and maybe it’s just because I haven’t yet made it to a class that has made think, wow yeah, this can really work. But I’m sure that there’s loads of talented teachers who will make everyone feel present and special and like i say, it really is a sensible option for teachers and studios to consider for the long term health of their businesses. 

To round off, I just have a short meditation, to help you decide where to put your focus in terms of your passion as a yoga teacher. Like i said before, you’ll need to balance this against earning an income, which you’ll need to do now, and again and again as things continue to change and evolve. 

If you’re on the move or this doesn’t feel like the right time to be still and introspect, just pause the podcast here, and come back to it when you have a couple of minutes. Otherwise, take comfortable seat, soften your gaze or close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. 

Take a moment to think back to teaching in person, likely in 2019 and before, and allow yourself to ponder over what lit you up. What you looked forward to. And then, allow yourself to think about what you didn’t enjoy so much. 

Then, think to the bulk of your teaching in 2020; again, what lit you up – what did you look forward to? and what didn’t you enjoy, what did you dread. What did people ask you for? What was attendance like at the different classes or workshops etc that you offered? 

Lastly, just allow your mind to wander now; and visualise, what would you like to be doing in 12 months, assuming that there’s no restrictions whatsoever. Do you see yourself teaching online, in person, both? Do you see yourself leading several classes a week, or specialising in delivering courses, or focusing on retreats? Or something else entirely? Allow your mind to wander, no restrictions, no guidance, what do you see yourself doing? 
As soon as you can, note down your takeaways from that short exercise, and when you have time, balance that against your requirement s for earning a living. Is there a way you can earn everything you need, or the bulk of what you need, from the thing or things you visualise yourself doing in 12 months… so you’re starting to carve a path to make your visualisation, your ideal, your dream, happen? 

Come back to this mediation, this exercise as often as you need to as things continue to change and evolve. 
I really hope you’ve found this useful. I know that change, and that the unknown can be so scary, but it’s full of potential too. 

I’d really love to hear how you’re getting on with planning for the changes and how you’re feeling about everything. Please do let me know by emailing hello@yogahero.co.uk or sending a DM to @yogahero_teachers on instagram. 

Wishing you the best of luck in sharing your yoga with your yogis, in a format that serves both you and them, have faith, it will come together! 

As always, happy teaching.