How can you teach yoga classes online skillfully and effectively? In this article, we’ll look at the three components you need to consider to deliver an authentic, valuable online experience for your student. (Looking for technological tips? Check out this article on teaching online, or teaching pre-recorded yoga classes.)
Own Your Classroom
Just like teaching a studio class, you need to own your classroom. Owning your classroom means that you actively and mindfully manage the class environment so that you can create the best possible experience for your students.
Consider: when your students enter your “studio” (your online classroom), what do you want them to feel? Choose your background, lighting, and accent pieces (plants, sculptures, paintings) to create the mood that you want for your online studio. Think of adjectives that may describe your ideal environment, and create your space accordingly. For example, creating a studio that is “restful, calm, and soothing” is different than a studio that is “uplifting, vibrant, and funky.” Have fun designing your space in a way that supports your class intention.
Treat your online studio like a real studio experience and create guidelines that will manage the experience accordingly. For example:
- Do you request that students keep their videos on?
- If so, do you help students to position their mat and cameras so that you can see them (this is akin to helping students place their mats at the beginning of class)?
- Do you allow latecomers into class?
- Do you address students who leave early? (Or provide expectations around those who need to leave?)
- Do you provide a link to a curated playlist for music?
- Do you educate your students in advance about props or items they may need for class?
Demo’ing vs. Watching
The most impactful component of your online teaching is your decision to demo the class or watch the class. When you demo the class, you do the practice on your mat with the students. When you watch the class, you turn on gallery view and instead watch the students’ practices. There are pro’s and con’s to each.
Demoing: Pro’s and Con’s
- Allows students to see the teacher practice (good for new students or visual learners)
- May be easier for you to cue the class if you are doing the practice
- You may be able to offer more complicated transitions since students have a visual reference
- Students may not feel “on the spot” as they may be when the teacher is watching them
- You cannot see the students or interact with them while you demo
Watching the Class: Pro’s and Con’s
- Opportunity to give students personal feedback and use their names; helps create connection and community
- Could make students self-conscious of being watched
- Requires very clear verbal cueing if students don’t have a visual guide for practice
- May be more challenging for students to follow the class who aren’t native to your language
- May be harder for beginners to follow
Your choice to demo or to watch will be determined by the level of your students and your class intention. You can elect to partially demo and partially watch if you wish, or you could choose to spotlight (pin the video) of a willing student who can demo the class so that you can watch your students.
Tip: if students’ names appear on their video profile (as they do in Zoom), you can ask your students to rename their profile as “No Assists” if they prefer to not be given verbal assists.
Teaching online can provide a nourishing opportunity for students to connect with you and with their peers. Here are some suggestions for creating community online:
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early for the class to connect with students
- Stay 10-15 minutes after class to connect and answer questions
- Have students turn off their mics before and after class to connect
- At least before and after class, ask students to turn on the video to say hello
- Use students’ names; if you are offering verbal assists during class, point out what students are doing well and acknowledge them
- Ask students to input their names (so in their profile, their names are visible (rather than listed as “IPhone 768” or the like)
Even though online teaching is a different than teaching in person, you can still take care to create a specific and intentional experience for your students. By embracing the particular opportunities of teaching online, we can still help support a powerful, connecting, and engaging experience for your students.