Online yoga videos are a fabulous well-established yoga tool. They are a great way for students to learn new things, gain exposure to various styles, maintain a home practice and have the convenience of access. For teachers, videos are a fun way to share their unique approach, help reinforce learning for clients, and to reach a wider audience.
The only thing missing? Real-time interaction!
Now, with platforms like Zoom, you don’t have to settle for a sterile one-way video experience. Real-time online connections for yoga students and teachers are a reality now. The virtual studio is helping yoga lovers everywhere to overcome distance and the isolation that home practice can bring. It will never be able to take the place of working with someone in person, but it can fill a void until you can or supplement your current in-person practice.
If you’re unfamiliar with the technology involved, it might seem a little intimidating at first, but the rewards of diving in are worth the initial effort, especially for those with obstacles to attending in-person classes for whatever reason.
Thinking of taking your first ever online yoga class? There are defintely some things to keep in mind to make the experience a great one for both you as a student and for your teacher who wants you to get the most out of each session.
Here are some tips to help ensure everything goes smoothly.
Whether you are using Skype or Zoom or some other platform to link into your virtual classroom, don’t wait until class time to create your account or sign in. Try it out a day or so before class. Get to know what buttons do what. Run a test with a friend to make sure you can be both seen and heard. Then, on the day of class, sign in a few minutes before class starts. If anything goes wrong, you’ll have a cushion of time in which to troubleshoot the problem or contact the teacher.
Some cameras are better than others. Integrated webcams are notorious for a lousy picture. You don’t necessarily need to go out and buy a new one (mine isn’t perfect either!), but do understand that if your teacher sees a blurry or fuzzy image, it will be harder for them to give you appropriate feedback. Camera views are also crucial and discussed further in “Space”.
This is probably one of the most important things to put in place. Natural sunlight, if it is available, will give the brightest, clearest view. When that isn’t possible, try to use a light source that is directly in front of you rather than behind you. Light coming from behind might make you a shadow or even disappear in the shadows. This makes it impossible for your teacher to see what you are doing.
You will need to set up a space that is clear for you to move in but also far enough away from the camera that the teacher will be able to see as much of your body on the mat as possible. If the camera is too close, your teacher may only see a portion of any particular pose (or nothing at all!), and while she will still be able to guide you generally, she may be unable to guide you in a more personalized way. If too far, you may be too tiny on your teacher’s screen, especially if there are several others present in any given class.
The other important thing about your space is to make it free of distraction, as much as possible. Put pets in another room. Ask your children or roommates not to disturb you. Turn off TV’s and radios.
Not every yoga teacher uses props, but it is a good idea to have a few things on hand for your own modifications and comfort. If you have yoga blocks and/or a strap, have them close by. But one can always make do with a stack of books, blanket, towel, and a couple of pillows.
The Initial Awkward
If you’ve never used technology in this way before, the first time you find yourself connected to a group of strangers can be disconcerting. Even if it is a private session, it can take a bit of time to settle in. Once you get used to how things look and run and discover the adjustments that you need to make, it gets easier…even exciting and fun.
The other thing to bear in mind is that as amazing and wonderful as technology can be to broaden our world, it is also still subject to all those little things that can go wrong. Connections get dropped, computers crash, power gets cut, sound cards die, batteries drain, and emails get lost or sent to spam. A little patience goes a long way in overcoming these obstacles. Make sure your yoga teacher and/or her provider has policies in place to deal with these snafus.
Seeing and being seen by someone online, in fact, inviting a yoga teacher into your home or office via technology, may seem scary to some of you, but I encourage you to at least give it a try. Once you get used to the newness of it, you’ll come to enjoy all it has to offer… convenience, comfort, and boundless new connections.
Would you like to sample one of Dielle’s online classes? Here’s a free taster of an hour-long gentle exploratory yoga class: