The global pandemic has forced us all to adopt new habits. Yoga is no exception. So what are some of the upsides of online yoga classes?
The challenge of change
Lockdown. It’s a strong word. For most of us, it implies a restriction. We are bound to our homes.
There are challenges in these changes.
And for many, this time is very challenging indeed. Issues of money, health and safety are real concerns and, for some, causes of deep pain.
At the same time, old routines are thrown out. Our habits are in flux.
Many of our former in-person activities have gone online. Yoga and meditation classes, for instance.
Are these new methods obstacles? Or could they be opportunities?
Below, I outline some of what I see to be the major benefits of online yoga learning.
For the past 2 years, I’ve been been thinking about offering online classes and asking my students what would help.
Then lockdown happened. I leapt in with both feet.
There was much to learn, both on my side and on the part of the students. And not just with the technology.
There have been hiccups of course.
What’s been the biggest change for me as a teacher going online? Well, it’s that now there are more blocks to two-way communication.
As a student you may be frustrated by this too.
In a studio or gym setting, students can ask a question any time. And I can answer that question.
Online, it’s harder. But by using the chat box and ‘unmuting’ actions, we’re finding ways round the problem.
Of course, it’s different to all being in the same room physically.
But we’re adapting, step by step. With patience.
You could say, it’s what yoga’s all about.
Over the past month of trial and error, I have been gathering feedback from my students. I’ve also been a student myself in various online yoga classes.
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
- You don’t have to travel. I used to travel an hour by bus each way to my favourite yoga class (a class for teachers). By the time I’d attended the two-hour class and got home, half of my day had gone. Now, you can click on a link and voilà! You’re at your class.
- You learn to use your space differently. In a studio class, Iyengar yoga teachers use a lot of props, such as blocks and bolsters. But at my online classes, I focus on how to use everyday items in the home. So, practising at home, you might use a pile of books or some cushions instead. It can lead to great creativity and a sense of fun and experimentation. And it might give new life to your solo yoga practice.
- You can create your own atmosphere. A studio or gym can be a bare and neutral place. The benefit of being in your home as a student is that you can create your own ambience. Using candles and soothing lighting, you can make a scene in keeping with your mental and emotional state. You might even practise outdoors
- It’s more intimate. In an online class, you can switch the video setting so that it’s ‘pinned’ to the teacher, i.e. that’s pretty much all you see on your screen. You can be in the class as though in a one-on-one session. If you’re socially anxious or suffer from body dysmorphia, this can be a much more comfortable setting than an in-person class.
- You belong to a global tribe. In my online classes, people join from America and sometimes from the Indian subcontinent. In doing yoga, you are part of a community which practises worldwide. It reminds us we cross barriers. Yoga means ‘to link’: In our common pursuit of health and happiness through asanas, pranamayama and meditation, we are one.
- A chance to connect. Some of you may be missing the get-togethers you had before or after a class in a studio or gym. But now there’s a chance to make new friendships. You can become a member of my Facebook Group, where you meet each other and ask questions. And we have monthly live ‘tea-time’ sessions where we exchange ideas and get to know each other better.
- Ongoing information. On the Facebook page, I provide weekly short sequences, photos, descriptions of asanas and readings from yoga and meditation masters. You also receive a recording of the class(es) you attended online. It means you can go over what you didn’t catch first time round: You learn in your own time, to your schedule, at your tempo and – most importantly – in your own place.
When this phase comes to an end and people start to return to a semblance of life as it was before, some of you may want to return to in-person classes.
But I will continue to offer the online community and classes into your home.
And, going forwards, you might like to stay with the online classes as well.
You know you’re always welcome!
I’m personally so grateful for the opportunity to teach online. I have the chance to help fill a gap for you, I’m learning a new skill and I’m connected to a tribe of beautiful and brave yogis.
I hope to see you soon.
“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.” BKS Iyengar
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