How to create your own high-quality online yoga classes
How to develop a real, authentic digital yoga practice in 10 easy steps. By Eloise Leeson
You know what this world needs, desperately? A little bit of calm. We need a collective exhalation, and here at OM, we (obviously!) can’t think of a better way to do that than with yoga! But with lockdowns left, right, and centre, and the natural cautiousness that accompanies a pandemic, sometimes our only recourse is to teach yoga online. If you’re a teacher looking to move classes online, then make sure you do yourself (ands your students!) justice with some high-quality content.
Here are our top 10 tips to help you teach a great yoga class online:
1. Take your time to plan
Let’s not rush! Yes, C-19 is awful, and lockdown has been rough, there’s no two ways about it. But the worst thing you could do is burn yourself out rushing into prepping, planning, and producing so much content. As with all great yoga practices, listen to your body and your soul. What’s the smallest single thing you could do today? How could you put a sustainable plan together? What is really feasible right now? It’s much better to go in gently and increase, than to go in gung-ho and be unable to keep up with your own demands.
2. Ask your students what they’d like to see.
Make it a team effort. Your students love you for all different kinds of reasons, right? Take the time to check in and ask them what they’d love to have right now. You might be surprised at some of the answers – we’ve heard all kinds of brilliant suggestions. From Disco Yoga on a Saturday night to a super slow Yin Yoga Flow on a Monday morning, there’s so much you can experiment with. Yoga’s known for being a community activity, so make sure you get your people involved.
3. Get creative.
It may seem obvious on the back of that last point, but try to brainstorm lots of different ways to engage your students. Being online gives you so much freedom. Try offering shorter sessions, longer sessions, meditations, coffee circles, and more. You could do a weekend retreat, a festival with other yoga studios, or a series of courses around specific pose series. The online yoga world really is your oyster.
4. Choose a class style that suits you.
Whether it’s a live stream or a video-on-demand (VOD) class, find a style that works for you. One of the essential things to remember is that your online yoga studio doesn’t (and really shouldn’t be) a carbon copy of your in-person practice. Whilst it’s important to bring the same values, ethos, and heart to your online yoga practice, it’s also really vital that you make the classes work for you as a teacher.
5. Be okay with building the plane as you fly.
Look – sometimes things will change. New technology will emerge, different integrations will happen, and you’ll want to change things as you go. Don’t be too wedded to a specific vision of your online studio. Things shift and alter, so focus on doing the best by your yoga students in this present moment, and (pardon the pun) let yourself go with the flow over time.
6. Welcome feedback.
We can get a little nervous when it comes to asking for feedback – but isn’t that one of the best ways to learn? Just as you might have gently adjusted a student’s pose in class, let them help you gently adjust what you offer. That might look like having an extra five minutes after class for a lovely long Savasana, or a waiting room open 10 minutes before a session starts so people can get nice and settled. They might prefer a more instructive teaching style, as you aren’t there in person, or they might prefer less of an intense challenge in a flow class, for example.
7. Find a supportive platform.
Just as you would with any technology for your students, make sure you choose a digital platform that’s going to work really hard for you. The team at the platform should have a supportive, caring attitude and work to be worthy of your custom! It may be that an independent platform is the way forward, or you might find a larger business suits your needs better. But make sure you are being looked after like the valued customer you are.
8. Figure out your payment plan.
Whichever platform you choose, it’s worth figuring out what their payment platforms look like for your students. Do they allow you to offer Karma classes, classes by donation, course bookings, or block passes? Make sure you do your research so you know just what to expect, and can keep your students informed as you go. It’s especially worth choosing a platform that integrates a secure payment option – firstly, so you reduce the admin of taking payments on links before class and cross-referencing attendees, and secondly, so your students’ money is handled safely and securely.
9. Invest in key equipment.
If you’ve decided to commit to offering classes online, the next thing to do is invest time, and maybe a little bit of money in setting yourself up for digital success. A clean backdrop, a carefully lit, quiet room, and a tripod are the holy trinity of filming essentials. For a full guide that covers the ins and outs of filming like a pro on a budget – click this link. Make sure the camera you’re using (especially if it’s your phone camera) captures all your movements, and if you’re teaching at the same time, it’s also worth investing in a lavalier or ‘lav’ mic to ensure you’re clearly heard.
10. Test, test, test.
As the phrase goes – practice makes perfect. While we’re not striving for perfection when it comes to technology and paying customers, it’s definitely worth going the extra mile to make sure you’ve ironed out all the digital crinkles. Whether it’s getting used to adding music or subtitles to a pre-recorded class, or getting all your emails set up and sent out in time, ask a friend or loved one to help you out by volunteering as a guinea pig so you know exactly what you’re doing.And our bonus tip? Have fun! With these top tips for helping you teach yoga online, you’ll be up and running in no time. Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know!
An avid yogi, writer, and marketer, Eloise can often be found practicing on her mat or petting other people's dogs.