Taking Your Teaching Online
Yoga Alliance Board Chair, Kerry Maiorca (E-RYT500, RPYT, YACEP)
Even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you can still transfer your yoga teaching online. Here are some tips and options for bringing your yoga class to the virtual space.
Consider offering a temporary free trial to build your client base.
- If you are offering a free trial, choose a short duration (one day to two weeks).
- Use a free or low-cost platform that allows you to livestream content (such as Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube).
- Create a reduced schedule of class offerings
- If you are an independent teacher, focus on your most popular and well-attended class times. You will likely want to offer no more than one class per day, or perhaps just a few class times per week.
- If you are a studio owner, modify your schedule to offer a few classes at a variety of times (typically no more than three per day).
- Clearly communicate your schedule on your website, newsletter, and/or social media.
- Expect that some tech glitches will happen—just be honest and transparent with your students, and they will likely understand and support you!
- Most importantly, clearly communicate to your community in advance that you will be transitioning to fee-based classes so they are prepared to pay in the near future.
Think low cost, but manual.
If you don’t want to heavily invest in advanced tech equipment because you don’t anticipate offering virtual classes in the future, consider using a free or low-cost platform that allows you to livestream content (such as Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube).
You can monetize this in one of two ways:
- Post the link freely, and ask for donations from people who decide to attend your classes.
- Donations can be processed via Paypal, Venmo, or other methods with a button on your website.
- If you are using a free or low-cost platform, be sure to inquire about class size limits as some come with a 100-person maximum.
- Be aware that if you post the link in a public place you have less control over who attends.
- If you are on a platform that allows two-way video communication, be sure to mute all participants and stop video prior to beginning instruction.
- Use a registration system.
- Use your usual registration system like Mindbody or another payment processor such as PayPal, etc.
- Advertise the livestream option by scheduling your classes on your website and social, but do not post the link.
- When participants register, you’ll have to manually email all participants a link to the livestream 30 minutes before class begins.
- Be prepared to troubleshoot some missed connections!
Or go higher cost, but automated.
If you do anticipate offering virtual classes in the future, consider using an existing paid platform that offers livestream video and comes with a user interface that handles scheduling and payment processing. This comes at a higher cost, and it takes some time to set up on the front end (typically a few days to a few weeks). However, once it is set up, it will be easier to sustain and maintain. The cost of these platforms vary as do their offers, so determine your top priorities in order to best choose the right platform for you.
Here are some of the factors and questions to consider when choosing your platform:
- Is it easy to livestream?
- What sort of special camera, lighting, and sound is needed, if any?
- Do you want to edit your videos or just post the recordings as they are?
- Does the platform allow you to record your livestreams and post to a video archive?
- Does the platform allow you to upload previously recorded content without going through the livestream process? (audio files, PDFs, etc.)
- Will you need this for group yoga classes, trainings, private sessions, or a mix?
- Do you want two-way livestreaming?
Online Platform Options:
Pricing for online yoga varies substantially, anywhere from $15-$100 or more per month.
Big players such as YogaGlo, Yoga International, and Gaia offer unlimited yoga for $15-$20 a month. However, as an independent teacher or studio owner, you have something they don’t—a personal connection with your students! You are able to provide them with their favorite line-up of teachers, giving them the personal touch they crave.
Some yoga studios are offering their online classes for the same rates as their in-person classes (as high as $100/month or more) for unlimited livestream yoga.
- You’ll have to decide the best pricing model for your community.
- Consider offering a variety of pricing options to allow students to choose what best fits their needs.
- Research what your favorite local teachers and studios are doing to give you a sense of what the market will support.
Here are some considerations:
- A free trial period that lasts anywhere from one day to two weeks
- Unlimited monthly payment (recurring revenue model)
- 10-class package (priced at a per class rate that is lower than the drop-in but not as strong as the unlimited deal)
- Drop-in rate
Note: Pricing more in the middle may draw a larger number of subscribers, but be careful not to undervalue your offerings.
Don’t forget waivers and liability!
Just as you would for in-person classes, don’t forget to address the issue of liability.
- Insert a standard disclaimer on your website as well as briefly noting at the start of each class that students should modify as needed.
- Check with your liability insurance provider to make sure that online yoga instruction is covered under your policy.
If you’re not ready for online video, consider offering audio instruction
There are many options for recording audio instruction for yoga classes, and this can be a less-intimidating way to venture into virtual instruction. There are several free sites that allow you to record and distribute audio: Audacity and Soundcloud are two popular options.
Remember, you can do it!
Most importantly, know that it won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. We are in a unique moment where there is such a strong need for yoga, and online classes are a great way to serve the needs of our communities. Start with your intention to connect with your students, choose an approach, and just get started. You can and will evolve your approach as you go!