By Jennifer Feibelman |
As the number of positive COVID-19 cases is on the rise, government officials throughout the world have encouraged, and in some cases have even mandated, that the populace should remain in their homes, should avoid groups of 10 or more people, and should make their best efforts to remain at least six feet away from other persons, in addition to hand washing and avoiding hand-to-face contact. Out of this strange and unsettling situation has sprung the requirement for new business modeling for entrepreneurial survival. Organizations have been forced or have proactively chosen to go remote or to implement no-contact alternatives to replace their standard operations. This change has not spared gyms and fitness studios, including yoga studios. For the protection of their students and teachers, many yoga studios have chosen to close their doors to the public. However, in times like these, it is essential to the yoga community that we remain united, that we continue to practice yogic calm, and that we nurture our bodies with healthful movement. Thus, as an alternative, studios and individual teachers alike have begun offering yoga online, both through live streaming and pre-recorded video posting.
While online yoga is not new, and options such as YogaGlo and Yoga With Adriene have been around for about a decade, traditional yoga studios have not typically offered online alternatives to their in-studio classes. In some cases, studio administration has been resistant to offering online yoga, perhaps due to a perceived discrepancy between modalities relating to product quality and the ability to build a thriving yoga community. Yoga Alliance has similarly disregarded online teachings by requiring that yoga teacher trainings must be offered face-to-face by a Registered Yoga School to qualify as a Yoga Alliance approved training resulting in trainees’ eligibility for the Registered Yoga Teacher designation upon completion. Nonetheless, in light of recent events, even Yoga Alliance itself has encouraged studios to suspend in-studio classes as a health precaution and has sanctioned offering online yoga classes and teacher trainings.
Utilizing options such as Vimeo, Facebook Live, and Zoom, studios and individual teachers are live streaming their classes and are posting pre-recorded videos, when they previously did not offer these alternatives to in-studio classes. In so doing, some sense of normalcy is restored for yoga students and teachers alike. Students have the opportunity to continue taking yoga classes with the teachers and the community that they have come to love and cherish. With live streamed classes, students and teachers around the globe can practice yoga synchronously as a united community, too resilient to be disconnected by social distancing. In a time of economic uncertainty, these online course offerings are the platform for continued teacher income and studio revenue, to both stimulate the declining economy by continuing to support local business during this financial crisis, and to help assure that our valued studios will still be there for us to return to and to practice together again when this is all said and done.
In the meantime, it seems that this pandemic has sparked a new digital age of yoga. With such vast change already having occurred in a matter of mere weeks, it will be intriguing to observe and participate in new developments in a rapidly adapting and shifting field. It is possible that the yoga business model may be forever changed, with a new respect for online offerings, in addition to resuming in-studio classes when that becomes a viable option again.
Jennifer Feibelman is the Retention Coordinator and First Year Advisor at the United States Sports Academy and is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200) with Yoga Alliance. She is currently pursuing the Doctor of Education in Sports Management at the Academy.