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My Thoughts On Moving To Online Yoga Classes

This will be a time in our lives that we will never forget.

After 13 years, Creating Space Yoga Studio temporarily closed its doors on March 15, 2020, due to the Covid-19 global pandemic.

At the time of the closure, we were four weeks away from finishing our winter 2020 session. As I announced that we were closing for COVID, I assumed that we would be open again for the start of the spring session, just after Easter. Today is May 31st and we are still not permitted to open our doors. Unfortunately, we have no idea when we will be given the thumbs up to practice together. It is sad, frustrating, and leaves me concerned for the business that I built, and the community that we created together.

When businesses across the country were closing down, many of the yoga studios immediately started to offer online yoga classes via Zoom, a video conferencing platform that allows for live streaming for a virtual yoga practice. Within days it seemed, yoga was showing up all in all forms over the internet. Initially, I couldn’t imagine teaching and practicing this way. I guess I am “old school”? What I loved so much about teaching yoga at our Creating Space Yoga Studio, were the daily interactions that we have with all of our students. Our classes had become weekly check-ins. Many of our students have met at the studio and have created deep friendships with each other. Together we enjoy an amazing energy exchange that happens daily. I have always felt grateful to “work” in this environment. I wondered how could this possibly translate across the screen?

Paralleling my uncertainty on how to proceed with the studio business; I also had challenges at home that I knew needed to be the priority as the world quickly changed before our eyes. My daughter was down in Florida training, my son was in Halifax attending Dalhousie University and my parents were also wintering in the United States. As soon as the Canadian government called all of its citizens home, I think we all realized how immediate this threat was becoming and my focus shifted from the yoga studio to getting my family home safely and keeping everyone healthy! It was important for me to be able to pivot to attend to my family’s needs as well as keep everyone stocked up and fed while in quarantine.

As these family hurdles were happening, in the back of my mind, I was concerned about how to support our students while everyone was self-isolating.

Back to the idea of Zoom yoga classes…
One of the great things about zoom conferencing is that you can talk and see each other in real-time. Students are able to practice “together” in their own homes. It really is amazing! However, one of the negatives with this platform for me at the time, was that I knew I was unable to commit to a regular class schedule while busy with my family obligations. A busy Zoom schedule wasn't going to be a sustainable way for me to take care of the CSY Community and my family at the same time.   I decided the best way forward was to film home practice videos for our students to view and practice anytime and anywhere.

For those of you who started practicing with the early videos, you undoubtedly noticed my initial discomfort. (For those with the CSY On-Demand Yoga Membership…check out my first Legs Up The Wall Practice)  I've never had any ambitions to create a personal online appearance. I so enjoy the face to face interactions with my students and the thought of watching and listening to myself on video was too cringeworthy!

Initially, it felt really strange to guide a class in an empty studio. It felt awkward and lonely to start, but as I settled into my own practice, I noticed the practice took over and it became easier. Eventually, I fell into the meditative practice of guiding and leading a class. And by the end of the recording, it felt comfortable and comforting to teach once again. When the world outside our studio was overwhelming, I was happy to have spent the time with our community, even if there was a screen in the way!

I found myself looking forward to my time at the studio. It was a welcome addition to my life in quarantine.  As each practice video was released, I received the most rewarding emails from our students who were practicing  with the videos while self-isolating. Even though we were separated, we still connected through our practice.

This pause has forced us all to pivot in both our personal lives and in the ways that we do business. Online yoga was not something I had considered, but now a few months later, I feel a curious spark inside to explore and create with this new medium.  Practicing online will never replace the magic of practicing with community, but I do see its value and I can better understand how our CSY On-Demand monthly membership will be able to serve our community in a new way.

It will benefit our students who travel frequently, who have moved away from the community, who find it difficult to mesh their work schedule with our class schedules or for those students who want to practice every day but are unable to make it to the studio for daily classes.  We can extend our hand further and reach more people and that is amazing!

So moving forward, the home practice videos have made a permanent home on our Creating Space Yoga Studio website. We have created a monthly membership for anyone who would like access to the home practice videos and I am really excited to build this online class library. I have so many ideas and I can’t wait to get going.

Technology is a wonderful thing. Sometimes we just need a good nudge to explore its possibilities!  Till we can see each other in person…see you online!

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