Updated: Jan 18
The yoga teachers of the yore didn't have the option of reaching their students through electronic and digital media for teaching yoga online. Their style of teaching or conducting a yoga class was more traditional: Face to face interaction with and observations of a group of students took place under the controlled environment of the class premises.
Today's yoga teachers have a multitude of options available to them for teaching yoga. They can instruct live, in person, while moving between a class full of students, podcast the instructions and associated information as audio files, pre recorded videos on a particular technique or concept for the students to practice from at their leisure and will, or something that combines the benefits of personal presence with the audio and video technologies combined together, teaching yoga online.
Teaching Yoga Online Versus Yoga class in Person
Of late, all the teachers, yoga teachers being no exception, were compelled to teach online, due to Covid-19 pandemic, irrespective of whether they were, or were not exposed to the medium before. There was a uproar from the students related to the lost quality of online teaching round the world. Like any other subject teaching yoga online requires additional skills than the qualities which are required of a yoga teacher who is conditioned to teaching a traditional studio class where he/she is present face to face with the students.
Teaching an online yoga class is a completely different scenario where in the instructions from the yoga teacher need to travel over internet live, or recorded to reach the student in real time or whenever the student decides to practice yoga. The yoga teacher and the student are connected via a camera and a monitor - a computer or a phone - on each side for the voice signals and the video images to travel to and fro.
Some one who is taking the online yoga class has to overcome certain unique obstacles thrown between the teacher and the taught on account of this connectivity over internet: The quality of voice as well as video signals, between the two, depends on the quality of internet connection on either of the sides which is in turn subject to fluctuations owing to the location and equipment used.
The personal connect one has with the teacher while taking a yoga class in person, face to face with the teacher, is dimmed, or lost between the different sizes of the monitors used, laptop or a phone, on both the sides. The attention span of the student will depend on the physical and people situation present there: Possibility of being distracted by artifacts and attention attracting objects present around the student in a home environment is against the non-distracting soothing environs of a yoga studio.
Psychologically as well the student is less available to the teacher for catching the essence of the instructions being given than when he/she is in the grip of the real eye contact of the teacher in a face to face session. Yoga is not just another physical exercise: The body movements are designed to impact the mind through the nervous system, fading it in the process, so that the individual can get in touch with his/ her real self beyond the mind.
The yoga teacher has to intersperse the studio yoga class with philosophy - nature of Prakriti, Purusha, the material world with respect to one's body - from time to time in order to prick, as well as satisfy the curiosity of the students. The rapport required to do so is missing in a online yoga class.
Tips for making Teaching Online Yoga Class more effective
We conduct our online yoga classes with all the important considerations needed for making the teaching more effective, engaging, and result oriented. Here I am sharing some of the most important tips on making online yoga classes equally effective which would make the students want more of them even after we all are free of the pandemic induced restrictions on us.
Right place for teaching yoga online
Anyone who would have even the basic knowledge of how a film studio works would know the fundamentals of customizing the place for producing high quality audio-visual content for teaching in or during a online yoga class. You can choose from an enclosed space in the interiors of a house, building, which is preferred, or the outdoors.
The space so chosen has to be customized for generating high quality audio and video signals. Make sure that the space is sound and echo proof.
Keep the windows and the door closed throughout the live session, and if possible use a " do not disturb, online session in progress" sigh outside the door while the sessions is on. This would help keep the unintentional intruders away from crashing into the continuity of the live yoga class.
Choose a place which has minimum windows and related outlets to avoid unwanted intrusions: unnecessary light, jarring vibrations of the traffic moving outside, or animals like birds to barge into the teachers space.
The space must have a blank, light colored. wall to be used as a background of the frame. Shapes or other elements can be be used in the frame but sparingly, and only to enhance the mood and feel of the class.
The place must be wide enough to accommodate the minimum distance required between the teacher and the camera for capturing the entire length and breadth of the body of the yoga teacher in demonstration.
A secluded place would contribute to the extra concentration required of an online yoga teacher as observing the practicing students through a computer, and simultaneously customizing the instructions is more taxing than in a face to face session.
Right Equipment and its use for teaching yoga online
The arrangement of the studio for teaching a online yoga class calls for the basic setup required to record or broadcast a audio visual program.
The place selected for conduction the online yoga class needs to be sound and echo proof. Avoid placing any furniture, artifacts, or any other objects inside the space as the intensity of the echo from the sound produced in such a setting is directly proportional to the number of these objects present there.
This is because each object will resonate the sound waves back to the source as an echo. The walls of the space can be made echo proof by hanging blankets, as sound absorbents, on them, but keep them out of the frame of the camera.
Invest in a quality wireless mic, the mic with wire can restrict the movement of and may also get entangled with the body parts of the yoga teacher in demonstration. The mic must be small enough to be hidden under, or around the dress worn by the teacher.
Us a camera, webcam or from the phone, which has the minimum ability to record in 4K. Avoid using inbuild webcams from the laptops and tablets as these cams are generally not configured to record in 4K. 4K is the minimum HD quality that is required to be displayed on the monitors, laptop screens, phones, or tablets, for basic clarity.
If using a external webcam it is a better idea to buy one with an option of connecting an external mic. Mics built into the webcams keep pointing in the direction of the camera and thus cannot follow the body movements of the teacher, compromising on the sound quality of the broadcast or the recording.
Depending upon the space available choose the camera lens which can capture the required frame - all the body parts of the teacher when fully extended - from the available distance from the teacher.
Using a tripod for the camera is recommended as it can aid in adjusting the right angle onto the teacher in the given spatial circumstances along with keeping the shot steady throughout the length of the broadcast.
As the mic is useless without the sound, the camera is of no use without the light. Even the cameras with the ability to record in high definition with highest precision will be rendered useless in the absence of proper light on to the subject.
Make sure that the main source of light comes from behind the camera and falls on the subject, or the teacher teaching the online yoga class.
Avoid any light coming from behind the teacher, bulb or any window, into the camera as this will make the teacher appear darker than the surroundings.
Placing multiple sources of light coming from different directions, sideways, below and from above, directed onto the teacher is the best arrangement. Depending on the time of the day when the recording, or the broadcast is being made natural or artificial lights can be customized and utilized accordingly.
Style, technique of teaching yoga class online
Owing to its different nature the teaching of the yoga online class needs a bit different skill than of a regular yoga teacher.
Voice instructions play a more significant role in a online yoga class than the demonstrations in front of the camera. Rather, while teaching a online yoga class the yoga teacher must avoid physically demonstrating the techniques on camera as a lot of yoga movements - front or back bends - can impair the quality of speech of the teacher marring the comprehensibility of the words being spoken.
The teacher must have a proper understanding of the concept of asana and the considerations to be adhered to as dictated by the ancient scriptures on yoga. The yoga teacher must be creative enough to conduct a online yoga class by properly infusing the practice with the right attitude, action, and alignment.
A good yoga teacher never practices with the class, it the skill of conveying the instructions as precisely as possible through the words and proper vocal cues. Moreover, the students in an online class are virtually spread across the screen of the teacher's monitor challenging his/ her observational abilities on the class.
While teaching yoga in a online class the teacher must maintain his/her concentration on the monitor and direct, or instruct the students as per the principles of alignment to get into a particular posture only using voice cues. This will definitely benefit the engagement level of the students taking the online yoga class.
Use open body language, open palms and arms directly facing the students, to appear approachable to the students. This will encourage them not to hesitate in asking for any clarifications which are bound to be more in an online class. Avoid standing stiff with crossed arms indicating a blockages between yourself and the students.
Plan the class beforehand and speak at a comfortable pace, usually match the pace of the instructions with the pace of movements being executed by the students. It would be better if the entire technique is displayed before hand on the students monitors by playing a pre-recorded video on the same before they begin to execute it.
Conclusion : Teaching yoga class online takes a very different skill and will to make success out of it. Online yoga classes are here to stay into the future, the yoga teachers need to understand the medium and customize their thinking, creativity, and teaching styles to its unique requirements. The online yoga teacher must embrace the best of audio-visual technology available for conducting a online class today along with knowing the nitty gritty of its usage.
The mode of conducting the class also need to be online specific in order to help the students benefit the maximum out of it.