• Atsuko

Online Yoga


I didn’t take it very well when the lockdown was coming our way. Like many people who are self-employed, I get zero penny if I don’t go out to teach, so I had no option but to carry on until some clear guideline was given. Once it was announced that no social gathering was allowed, I emailed all the students and people I rent the premises from and cancelled everything. I felt quite low for a while about the way how things came to a halt. I felt my livelihood was taken away and cut off from my yoga classes and yoga students, without even saying good-by.

Then a few people suggested that I should teach online. I remembered seeing a karate teacher teaching to a laptop in Locked-down Wuhan on the news. ‘Nah’, I thought. It won’t work. I don’t even have a laptop or webcam. It will be too complicated and stressful. In any case, nobody wants to do it and nobody would pay.

Eventually, however, I decided to give it a go. Many friends felt sorry for me and were willing to be Guinea pigs, so I run 3 short online yoga sessions, and it actually felt good. I couldn’t teach in the way I normally teach, but it can work, I thought. It’s good to practice together, and it’s great to see the familiar faces. I believe yoga is about discipline, and it’s easier to stick to it with others.

So I ran 2 weeks of 30 minute free online yoga every morning. My usual classes are 1 or 1.5 hours so 30 minute feels very short, but I decided that under the lockdown, to do yoga every morning is a good way to establish a routine. After all most of us lost all the structures of our lives. Also I realised that my online attention span is much shorter than real life, so 30 minutes suits me and seem to suit others, too.

I ran them for free because I never thought I could take money for online lessons. I thought at least in this way I could keep contact with the students so we can resume as soon as the lockdown is over. But as soon as I started teaching, I had so many offers of payments. I kept turning them down initially but as some people insisted, I started accept contributions. Eventually I received so many donations from so many students.

From this Monday, I started to make small charges which I hope most people can easily afford. As it’s only a temporary arrangement, it is run as a trust system where people pay if they join the lessons. I take no register or record the attendance. And it seems to be working very well.

What I find most wonderful and moving is that online yoga is not natural to many of my students. Many of them had never heard of Zoom and are not very technical anyway. I had used Zoom a few times before but only as a participant, so it was a steep learning curve for me, too. We had to spend quite some time sorting out the technical issues during the free sessions. It was a joint learning experience. To think so many people made special efforts to join me is humbling.

I have been teaching for a long time, and some students have moved on to become yoga teachers themselves, but majority of the students are just happy to come to the classes once a twice a week (some for a very long time). A great way to exercise the body and mind, and also a great way to meet friends and to socialise. This current crisis and this experience of online yoga made me realise how wrong I was.

It is humbling to realise how much yoga means to many many people. For most of the students yoga is not just an exercise or an opportunity to meet others. Yoga is a pillar of their lives, a very important building block of their existence. And it is particularly important to keep on practicing, with supportive yoga friends, in this uncertain and often lonely situation we were collectively thrown into. How dumb was I to not have realised this before?

I am so grateful that my friends encouraged me to teach online. If I had just sulked away into my private lockdown I would have been withholding one thing I do well when it is really needed. Let us practice yoga alone. Together.

Please share freely.

Online yoga

#Coronavirus #yoga #onlineyoga

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