Live Online yoga classes are an incredible resource. We can reach students safely from their homes and connect with people that we may otherwise never meet.
Personally I miss the chance to meet my students in a live setting but I love seeing the familiar faces of my online students as they arrive for classes. It’s a feeling of community. That feeling can be difficult to imagine.
At the beginning of the pandemic my student Celeste requested that I offer a class on how to teach Restorative yoga online. I responded with a workshop that ran multiple times and I’ve never had more to talk about or received more questions. Teaching is an art and teaching online adds that much more to consider.
Taking time to think about how you are teaching will increase your confidence and deepen your offerings. In spite of being apart, you can create community and a high standard if, you bear in mind a few things.
These five points are a small sample chosen from my workshop to start getting you thinking about how you teach your online classes.
Teach the Best and don’t Compromise
Teaching full Restorative set ups can be intimidating at the best of times. Misunderstandings about what Restorative yoga is, combined with our own culturally ingrained beliefs about speed and efficiency, can make teaching the detailed set up of a great Restorative pose feel daunting. Not to worry. Your students will love these set ups! You are here to create the space and empowerment for this wonderful practice to unfold. Excellent propping is the only way to guide students into a meaningful experience of rest that will truly help them.
Talk openly to students about the importance of great supports. Set an example in your demos with poses that have the props needed to be truly comfortable. For the students who have left their cameras on, check their poses and offer caring advice on how to improve their comfort.
Students will often need more props to achieve a supportive pose. The great news is that sometimes they have lots of items that can help at home. Teach students to innovate with what they have.
Encourage students to shift gears and try another pose or try a different way of setting up if they aren’t getting comfortable and don’t be shy to demonstrate a second or third pose. When it comes to Restorative yoga think of a tailored experience rather than one size fits all.
If you feel lost and that you have not been taught these details, I strongly recommend that you seek further education in Restorative Yoga to support your passion and give your classes the chance to really shine.
Mirror Gentle Movements
Restorative yoga is about slowing down and eventually being still. How fast are you demonstrating? The speed that you are taking to show students a pose may be causing your students to feel they must keep up with you. This is your chance to teach this practice by the example. Remind your students that they do not need to rush. Slow down, listen to your body and perform each demo with mindfulness.
Try this exercise: create an online meeting just for you and set yourself up in a pose, notice if the image of you in the camera causes agitation. Are you experiencing stress and an internal pressure to speed up? Next, be mindful of this same thing when your students are present. Chances are that your students will feel the same way that you are. Watch yourself and make sure that your overall movements communicate gentleness and cosiness.
Begin class by saying hello and inviting students to ask questions or make requests. Even if your students aren’t in the mood to talk that day, the fact that you have asked, sets a tone of openness. Students can send you private messages on zoom if they feel more comfortable doing so. Strong verbal communication skills are needed online as you do not have the chance for hands on skills. Let students know that you welcome dialogue. Many yoga environments do not have a conversational class model, so make sure that it’s clear that your class is different. This will make students more comfortable to share with you. An environment where this is possible is also more relaxing.
Introduce students to one another at the beginning of class, stay after class to take questions or chat. Get to know people’s pets! 🙂 Share laughs. When people feel welcome and at home their ability to rest in your presence will deepen.
Use the Camera as a teaching tool
Be on set when you are teaching or instructing. When your students are practicing avoid being visible. Culturally we are conditioned to stare at screens and your students will go deeper when there is nothing to stare at. Also, if you are practicing yourself, it takes you out of the role as teacher. Students may think differently if they know you are still in the mode of teaching. Stand just off to the side of the camera, leaning in from time to time to see how your students are doing. Otherwise leave the screen activity free.
Practice Just Being
There can be nothing more uncomfortable than looking at ourselves on a webcam. We see every shadow and flyaway (I have curly hair so trust me I am capable of seeing endless flyaways). We have been conditioned to be hyper critical of ourselves. Let’s take a moment to shift gears before the students arrive. Studies show that a parents negative body image can affect their children and I have no doubt that our insecurities as yoga teachers will impact the classroom.
Take a moment with yourself 0n the monitor. Remember when your students see you that they see someone who likely brings them joy and helps them with their connection to yoga. Think about someone that you love unconditionally such as your grandparent, best friend, a teacher you like, even your dog. When you see them do you think critically about them? Do they think critically about you? Or do you just feel the joy of getting to connect? Cultivate seeing yourself in this light.
Be your being, the truth of who you are whenever you are with your students. And if you need a little help, check out this song.
The art of teaching is an endless journey full of valuable lessons. I hope that this article has helped you reflect on your power and ability to create a caring community that wonderfully shares yoga across the miles.