Teaching Yoga on Zoom
Learning Zoom at lighting speed: yoga teacher Claudia Brown tells the story of how lockdown shaped her business, transitioning from in-person classes to digital ones within a few weeks
Papa, can you hear me!? Strange times. Uncertain times. Challenging. Plain old weird. Pivot. Reframe. Yes, I entered into the twilight zone of intense learning to get the hang of teaching online! I hadn’t even used Zoom until the beginning of March but quickly took up a subscription when the rumblings of social distancing and lockdown started to trend.
Where do I look? Do I smile? At who? Their camera is off: what’s happening behind there? Are they just watching? I can’t play my music because it interferes with the Zoom audio. Wow, I never realised how weird it was to do a class with no music. Is anyone still there? Are they okay? I ran one class where every person switched off their video so I had no feedback at all which was another first for me. The technology challenged clients. Can you see me? Can you hear me? Is it on? What’s happening? Papa, can you hear me?
I went back onto my mat, that safety blanket. It’s how I first started teaching back in the old days, going through the motions of the asana and trying to find my way. It was more tiring and took a lot more energy. But then I realised we were in a global pandemic and I had tried to keep everything the same — apart from it was through a computer screen!
There were lots of early errors, beeps and notifications for different things that were set in a way that I had never noticed before. I had a phone call come through my laptop during one class! Some things you can’t control. Just the other day, I had a postman delivering half way through a class. But I soon got the hang of it. I realised that I was still ‘on’ so I went from ‘monotonous’ back to an Oscar winning performance, showing off and entertaining my audience as before!
It was also challenging trying to compete with the surge of free online provision. Those first few weeks, if you went on Instragram at 6pm there was a large amount of IGTV to pick from. Lockdown has been good for Yoga with Adriene (yogawithadriene.com) on YouTube (and I’ll admit that’s 100% sour grapes on my part!). In fact, I had a lot of enquiries for my online classes only to be told on follow-up that they were now enjoying free Yoga with Adriene!
But free yoga is not new. In the first few weeks of lockdown, it was heart-warming that so much content in so many different areas of wellbeing was offered up for free. It showed the best of humanity, the best of individuals, as well as multi national conglomerates.
Then reality set in, that this was, and continues to be, a different experience for each of us. My personal experience was that a business I have built up over a number of years stopped overnight. A series of events that I’d been working on for over a year all cancelled. We all have a different story. Losses and gains.
I’ve gained new clients because I’ve gone online. And a lot of people who said they wanted to do a class with me but couldn’t because of time and geography, well, they still haven’t. But I’m still here, ready and waiting for them.
I’ve been able to study with teachers that I’ve never experienced before from all over the globe because geography and cost of travel is no longer an issue. My personal favourite discovery has been Naomi Absalom (naomiabsalom.com) who has invigorated my own personal practice and also guided me into creating new ideas for my own clients.
I’ve gone inward and enjoyed my own practice, relied on my meditation and breath-work far more than I ever have, and I now have a new relationship with time. My time is precious. What is it worth financially, emotionally and physically? I continue to assess this as we start to ease our way back into the ‘new normal’. Times are changing for all of us in the yoga world, internationally, in the UK and locally. It’s going to be interesting.