8 Ways To Keep Students Coming Back For Your Online Yoga Classes
Many things have changed this year, and one was that yoga studios were closed for many months. I recently saw people online talking about missing their yoga. I smiled but was sad for them too. I appreciated that our studio went to an online format very quickly. Are you teaching or taking classes via the internet? Online outreach to support our sanga, our community is more important than ever before. Give your students the tools and instruction to follow you to an online format and stay engaged.
There have been a bunch of articles written about the technology, software, camera, and microphones to invest in to move classes onto an internet format. Far less has been shared about the fact that internet classes are different than studio or gym classes, and you might want to shift your teaching style and class flow to embrace the difference. I have been teaching yoga and Ayurveda online for that last few years and enjoy working with people via the internet. With a little attention to detail, you will create a unique, vibrant experience for your students.
“A lot of what they [instructors] know about really great in-person facilitation applies online,” said Cindy Huggett, a virtual training consultant. But some skills need to be tweaked or expanded. “It’s like, you already know how to drive a car; now you’re learning to drive a truck. It’s the same set of skills, but you add on to it.”
1) Add community time
One of the things I missed online is the unplanned conversations between students and me or between students before and after class. There is no bumping into students on the way into the studio. They don’t get to connect while waiting for class to start online unless you create the opportunity. Add 5 to 10 minutes before or after class when students can sign in and catch up with you, their teacher, and each other. Start class on time and end on time and still encourage community and connection.
2) Tell students how to communicate with you during class
Give your students options to ask questions. Teach them the outreach options in the software you use. Check the Chat and look for hands raised. Be okay with students un-muting themselves and reaching out.
3) Engage with students from the get-go
When online, it’s easy for students to check out, multitask, or not commit to the class and lose the benefits that being present during asana bring. There are a few things you can add to the class structure to foster engagement.
4) Cameras on
Encourage Cameras On when possible, some people don’t want to watch themselves in downward facing dog on screen. That is their choice, but you can’t suggest personal adjustments if you can’t see the students. What you can do is teach safe alignment and general adjustments from what you know from your own body and in-person teaching.
5) Organize for home
Announce all the props needed for the whole class before class begins if you use them, including a chair or cushion for meditation. Suggest ideas to substitute at home items for studio standards, a tie for a strap, and books for a block.
6) Engagement adds
Insert chanting, meditation, or pranayama during the class with cameras and or microphones on. Students can hear each other and see each other sitting as part of the course. Give people a chance to turn their mics on and join you if you Om out to end class.
7) Make your instructions clear and concrete
Visibility is different and varies significantly from yogi to yogini online. The best view may be the student who sees the class on a big screen smart TV in their workout room. Others will run the session on their desktop or laptop; the smallest screen is likely a phone. I haven’t heard of anyone trying to take a class from their watch, but you never know. Because of the range of viewing options, it behooves the instructor to use more than one camera or move around to support different body views. Also, make movements big and add a little extra instruction to get in and out each pose.
8) Teach classes with difficulty level options
In the intimacy of the studio, you often feel or see when a student is struggling, so you offer an option to enable a more accessible form of asana. Online is a little different, and you have to anticipate various restrictions as well as levels of proficiency to make your teaching inclusive. Be clear that students are in charge of their safety awareness and responsibility. Please encourage them to ask for suggestions.
Turning on the computer or phone for live and recorded classes are part of the way we practice as a community for the foreseeable future. Think through your options as a teacher and set yourself up to connect deeply and regularly with your sanga through online workshops and classes.
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