So, you want to teach yoga online? Alrighty then! We have a comprehensive guide to getting you set up and practising with your students in a way that works for you. We know how important it is for you to reach your students, helping them to move and look after their physical and mental wellbeing whilst they’re at home. In this comprehensive article, we dive into a variety of different themes and topics to help you set up a successful digital yoga practice that will be a sustainable success. 

Finding the right mindset

First up – when it comes to creating your online yoga studio, think of it as a long game with quick wins. You want to teach yoga online, and that’s awesome! And once you’ve made that decision, it’s super tempting to jump straight in, building as you go. Just as a yoga teacher training course takes time, creating an online yoga studio practice benefits from careful planning and thoughtful action. 

It’s a cliché, of course, but we really are living in unprecedented times. That’s why the first tip we have is to set yourself up for sustainable success. 

Starting up a digital yoga studio doesn’t need to be difficult (we’ve built an app for that!) but we’re really cautioning teachers against burn out – creating in a frenzy and falling off the radar within a few months, getting so tired by the work you’re doing that you can’t keep it up. No, thank you!

Plan, plan, plan

Instead, try and break down the aspects of setting up an online studio into a plan with clear steps you can take. Other things to consider include:

  1. Is the platform user-friendly for you? Any tech you use should be set up to make your life easy.
  2. Can you film and upload 2 videos as week, and host a single live class? Starting small can be the key to success.
  3. When you’re ready to add more classes, how can you make these flex with your schedule?
  4. Offering ‘snackable’ content in place of full classes can be a way to gently increase your offering without sending you over the edge. Try specific pose guides, meditation moments, or morning breathing exercises to keep students engaged. 

Be okay with starting with the smallest action that you can take. Just like learning a new pose, you wouldn’t expect to go from newbie yogi to a full crow pose without progressing through the natural stages! Building things up slowly, trusting in the process and the journey – these things will help you and your students have great experiences alike as you head out on your online yoga journey. 

Choosing a platform

Now you have a sustainable plan to teach yoga online – you need a platform! When it comes to choosing one, there are a few key things to consider:

  • What are all the functions you need to teach classes?
    • Do you want to do live-stream videos, or just video on demand?
    • Do you want a space to write blogs?
    • Do you want a platform that lets you host other kinds of content, such as photo galleries or forums?
  • How important is accessibility to you? 
    • What student needs does your platform need to cater to?
    • How can you make life as easy for your students as possible?
    • How much admin work (sending reminders, chasing payment) are you prepared to do?
  • Does the platform in question integrate with other tools you use, such as Google Cal, Mailchimp, or social media?
  • How is payment taken, is it secure, and what are the costs associated with using the platform?
  • Does the platform let you devise flexible payments for your students?
  • Are the platform creators on hand to help you with any tech issues you might have?

Brainstorm your own questions and add them to the list!

Calendar planning and creativity!

Right, you’ve chosen your fantastic platform, and you’re ready to start creating content. But wait! What are you actually going to make?

In some yoga studios, practice can last anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (looking at you, Mysore!) For students that are joining you from home, this may no longer be a feasible amount of time to expect of them. This is where a bit of careful calendar planning and some creativity can work wonders.

By plotting the classes you want to offer in advance, you can link sessions together with common themes, moon phases, or the seasons.

The great thing about a digital yoga studio is the flexibility that’s offered. Try shorter sessions, longer sessions, meditations, coffee circles and more!

For example, you could put together a 15-minute morning wake up yoga session, or a fast and fabulous Friday night power flow. By choosing a platform that automatically records live-stream sessions as video on demand, you’ll also getting two classes for effort of one.

Getting creative

Thinking of your content calendar a month in advance gives you a real overview of how it is that you are going to best serve your students, and look after yourself. This will help to ensure that you have a greater degree of sustainability around setting up your digital studio. And, best of all, you know exactly what you’re doing for the month ahead – no surprises, and no thinking ‘what the heck do I teach?!’ when another week rolls around and you’re bereft of content. 

Bonus tip – if you’re using a platform that enables it, you can also gather data to help you to make more informed decisions your classes. Data capture enables you to see how popular certain classes are, what the uptake is, or if students drop off after a certain point (is a pose too long for comfort, perhaps?). 

Flexible payment for flexible people

Be open to considering flexible payment options, and consider a variety of different ways in which people can engage with you. A Karma class on a weekend, where people can pay what they want, enables your students to enjoy a community session and a pause in their busy lives to reconnect and recentre. 

Other flexible payment ideas can be different block bookings – students could book in blocks of five, 10, or more. Single live classes could also be made available with a limited-time replay, and you can always offer an unlimited class pass with a subscription fee.

Safety first!

A quick word of caution – make sure that you have a really solid payment system set up.

Rather than send out a PayPal or Venmo link and then having to check everyone’s paid before commencing class, or doing all the tracking of who’s got a membership or who hasn’t, choose a platform that integrates safe, secure payment for you. If nothing else, it avoids awkward conversations with freeloaders who haven’t paid.

An automated system leaves little room for human error, you ensure you’re getting paid on time, and students know exactly where they stand. 

The result? Confident students and teachers that can get on with doing the yoga they love. 

Planning content around you

When it comes to teaching yoga online, the temptation may be to do all live classes to begin with – and if that’s your style of yoga, that’s fantastic. But if you’re new to the technology, may we make a case for video on demand? The great thing about video on demand is that you can take a couple of days at the start of every month and record as much as you are able to or would like to! By concentrating your efforts and taking some dedicated time, you might find you get into a real ‘flow’ so to speak. And, on top of this, you then get the time to tweak and polish your classes before you release them.

Once they’re all ready to go, just upload them, and your students can practice with you whenever it suits them best.

Making it user-friendly

Speaking of making things user-friendly, there are a number of things to bear in mind when choosing a platform that works for you and your students.

Ideally, you would choose a system that enables you to set up automatic notifications and emails. For example, when a student books into a live class, you would both get a confirmation email and an invite to add it to their calendar. Then, a few hours before your class, the student will get a reminder email. And if they didn’t manage to make it to class? Another email should go out to let them know there’s a replay option.

This kind of user-friendly focus not only helps your students get more practice in, it helps them feel cherished and cared for, just as they’d be in your studio. 

Accessible schedules & booking systems

Is it easy for your students to see your schedule? Are they able to access a calendar of upcoming classes and how will they know when they can practice with you? Is your content playable and optimized for mobile and TV apps? Another word on user-friendliness – make sure you have a really robust and user-friendly booking system. 

The last thing you want to do is for your students to have to jump through 400 different hoops for them to be able to book class with you.

Not only is that going to be frustrating for them, it also means you could potentially miss out on classes, and therefore on revenue.

Live-stream or VOD?

If you are doing a live stream class, make sure it’s set up to make your life as easy as possible! Try a couple of practice run throughs, to make sure there aren’t any gremlins in the system. This is especially true of classes that are set to music. Unless you’re using a platform that offers a music and voice-streaming service so both can be heard distinctly, consider sending a playlist over in advance of music for your students to play whilst they practice. 

Consider having a waiting room for students and opening them up a good few minutes in advance so that people can get settled before they practice with you.

We also recommend that you make sure that you’re managing expectations in terms of what people can see when they engage with you – is it two-way video, or just one? And because you aren’t there in person to support people with pose adjustments during a class, make sure that you also encourage people to come back and rest in a child’s pose or Savasana when they need to. 

This helps people to find their stillness and space if something is becoming too challenging and will help them avoid preventable injury.

Marketing with heart 

Of course, some of the most impactful action you can take is outside of your platform! Marketing with heart and honesty is one of the best ways to educate students about your new online yoga classes. One of the biggest things to consider if you’re choosing to teach yoga online is making sure that your yogis are aware of everything on offer in your digital studio before they sign up. Not only will you increase the likelihood that they’ll come on board, but highlighting the benefits of your digital studio could also capture new students.

Try a fun weekly newsletter, a monthly update, or a gentle daily nudge on social media to remind people of the great stuff that you have coming up in your calendar. Making sure your marketing is all focused on your customers’ perspectives will lead to success in the long run. 

A word on vulnerability

And lastly, have fun!

Your people love you for your practice and for your authentic self. Make sure that that’s what you bring to the camera, every single time. If you’re having a rough day (and yes, it’s 2020 – we’ve all had at least one!) – that’s okay! Share it with your students. The chances are that your vulnerability will help them to realize that there are spots that they’re avoiding getting in touch with, so they don’t feel their feelings. 

Showing up and being human and vulnerable when we teach yoga can only be beneficial, for us, and our wider community. 

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