Wanna Keep Yoga Students Happy and Safe During a Pandemic? Here’s How.
Yesterday, a student from a nearby city emailed me to let me know that she wouldn’t be attending my workshop this coming weekend because she’s a social worker and her agency is prohibiting all employees from traveling. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency yesterday so it’s gettin’ real around here. I also read this article and thought, wow, there’s a real potential that yoga studios and other venues are going to have to close for a while. So, let’s problem-solve how you and your yoga teaching can survive this pandemic!
The answer (which you may or may not feel enthusiastic about) is digital. But don’t stop reading! I assure you it’s not as hard as it sounds.
If you’re a yoga teacher, your students are counting on you to help them survive during the media-driven panic attack, if not the virus itself – let’s face it, our students invest a lot of trust in our teaching and our support. Of course yoga is not the medical solution for the virus, but it certainly can help people feel better during the crisis.
If it gets to the point where your locality goes on lockdown (like right now in Italy) then how are you going to keep getting yoga to your students?
Crises may be terrifying, but if you can get beyond the paralyzing fear part (and you may wish to reflect on your own self-care and the state of your practice for that), then you can start to see that there are also opportunities!
The opportunity here? Wake up and smell the twenty-first century and get your digital chops together. It’s a great time to offer classes online – yes, even the Luddites among us (and I consider myself one BTW), can do this!
And you don’t need a professional set up – really, all you need is a smart phone and a tripod (or a table and book will do in a pinch).
Let me walk you through 4 potential ways to digitally teach:
- Facebook Livestreams
This is perhaps the simplest way to teach online. If you don’t have a FB account, then create a temporary one, you can always delete it when the storm passes.
You have a few choices here. The simplest one is to set up your phone (a tripod like this is a great idea, otherwise you can MacGyver it with a table, a couple of books and maybe even a little tape). Put your mat in your living room or somewhere else in your house with good, natural light.
Go to “post” on FB and then click on “Live Video”. Make sure you can see your whole mat, and see your whole body when you stand up. Make sure to project your voice because you’re a bit far from the phone’s mic. The house should be as quiet as possible.
Press “Go Live” and Voila! You have a virtual class, (and hopefully it’s the only thing that goes viral!)
At this moment, part of you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, now I’m giving away a FREE class!” Yes, if you want to keep charging for classes during the crisis (and I think there’s really good reason to so please don’t feel guilty about making a living – you’re helping your students cope!), then here’s an easy fix. Create a Facebook group and livestream only for that group. If you are not sure how to do that, check out this video.
You can use either Venmo or PayPal to take payments (both are super easy to set up on your phone just look for a YouTube video if you need help – the advantage of Venmo is that they won’t charge you a fee to take payments, PayPal does.) Tell your students that you have set up a virtual studio and ask them to pay you a monthly rate for 1, 2, 3 or whatever classes a week. Set a fee, or ask for donations if you prefer (or have a “Surviving the Pandemic Sale!” – be creative!)
Then, you only let folks into your FB group who have paid you for a monthly pass to your classes. And give them the best virus defying classes ever!
Tip: Offer a freebie to your regular Facebook page or email list to get more students onboard. Let them know you are there ready and willing to support them through this crisis!
The best place to livestream on Instagram is your story. Click on your story and then, at the bottom, swipe over to the left and you’ll see a “live” option. Set up your tripod (or other phone arrangement) and push “Live.” Instagram will notify your followers that you are live and away you go. When you’re finished just push “end” and the livestream will save on your story for one day.
The drawback here is that there’s not really an easy way to accept payment. You could always do the livestreams and ask folks who are watching for donations – send them your PayPal email. The other problem is that once your 24 hours period is up, the video is gone forever.
YouTube may require a bit more skill than Facebook Lives, but it is still totally possible and you may want to consider this option. First thing you need to do is set up a YouTube channel. It’s not as daunting as it sounds! Here’s a tutorial.
You have two options here – you can film your class on your phone (same instructions as above) and then upload them to YouTube. Or you can use the YouTube live option. If you want to offer your classes free to your students, YouTube live is a great option. If you want to charge for them, then you make the link “unlisted” and only send it to those who have already paid you for virtual classes (again that could be through Venmo or PayPal).
A fourth option, if you really want to do this in the most professional way, is Zoom. You have to pay for anything longer than 40 minutes, but it is a very professional option. (Well, on second thought, there’s also GoToWebinar, worth checking out, but it’s a whole ‘nother level of investment).
You can set up Zoom as an app on your phone and then livestream and record from there. The advantage is that students can join and talk and interact in real time. You can share the meeting link with specific people only so it’s a lot more exclusive than the other options.
Not comfortable in front of a camera?
Dear reader, I feel your pain. I once had the same problem.
So I spent a lot of time reminding and convincing myself that it was more important to get my work out to the people who really need it than it was to worry about how my hair looked that day and whether or not I said “um” too many times. Your students need you right now so step up – you can do this!
The reality is that it gets easier and easier over time. Do a few practice runs with just the camera part of your phone, it will get easier, I promise!
The above may very well be great options for individual teachers, but they may also be transferable to studios.
Studio owners can have teachers come and record classes at their regular day and time, and then stream them all out to your student base in a Facebook group or as YouTube unlisted links.
If students are already paying a monthly membership, then they can watch all the Livestreamed classes during the social isolation period. This can also be a good incentive for students who don’t currently have monthly memberships to buy them now. Remind them that this is the perfect time to do more yoga AND to help the studio and keep the lights so it’s ready and waiting for them when things get back to normal.
Here’s a little video I made for you about tripods and making living room videos.
I’m sure there are other tips and tricks I have not covered here so if you have some – please share in the comments!
On a deeper note, times like this present us with an opportunity to self-reflect, deepen awareness, raise our vibration, create supportive community, and develop new visions for ourselves and our world – we miss these opportunities if we allow ourselves to be swept up entirely in the panic. You have many resources – both external and internal, this is the time to draw on them to create a new vision for the future.
Stay well. Stay safe. Practice more!