The Future of Yoga Post Covid

Now that we have all had a chance to experience online yoga and yoga studios are re-opening, we’re about to find out how the Covid experience we’ve all been through is going to influence our yoga practice for students, teachers and studios alike.

I released a survey on my Instagram last week to gauge the sentiment amongst students and teachers regarding how they would deliver and practice yoga when studios reopen.

The majority of students (64%) said that they would keep practising both online and live, keeping both options. For many practising online is more practical taking out travel time, parking, etc… especially when the weather is not conducive to going out.  The disadvantages of practising at home for many are the distractions that occur in the home. There’s a greater chance for students to walk off their mat which doesn’t happen in a studio. There’s a certain discipline to practicing in a group with a teacher in  a studio which is absent at home. If you decide to continue practising at home, it’s a good idea to have boundaries in place to reduce distractions. Having a dedicated space to practice that is separated from the rest of the household is ideal but not always possible. If you have a family or housemates, you may need to negotiate time and space for yourself… or better still, invite them to join you!

I was surprised to see in my survey results that only a small percentage (12%) of students said that they would return to live classes only. These students did not enjoy the online experience, some because of technology restrictions, some because for the lack of community, and some because of the lack of personal instruction from a teacher, or a combination of all those things.  To be honest I thought this number would be much higher but I suspect that it might grow over time, if not, it may cause many more studios to close their doors if they are not attracting a high enough number of students.

Another surprise to me were the students (24%) saying they would practice online only.  This seems to point to the success of online yoga and a fast transition. I have students who have returned to more regular practice due to online yoga which has really benefited them.

Teachers in general were much more keen to return to live classes although many want to continue to teach online as well. Teaching live is much more nourishing for a teacher, it’s great to chat to students and monitor how they are energetically which is something that you can’t feel through technology.  There’s an energy exchange that occurs in the teacher/student relationship which is largely missing online and teaching without that energy rebound can leave teachers feeling drained and empty, as opposed to nourished and fulfilled. Another aspect to teaching yoga live as a teacher is that you learn from the students as much as they are learning from you so it’s a very special relationship.

There are however many advantages for teachers to teach online, the most important being the ability to reach many more students from around the world. This gives teachers the opportunity to grow their tribe and find students who resonate with their work. There’s also the same convenience advantage that teachers and students both enjoy, especially those of us who live in big cities where travel can be time-consuming and challenging.

Yoga studios are the third part of this equation and arguably the hardest hit. Many of us would be extremely saddened to see our local studios close. I am not talking about the big corporate chains that have adopted yoga for economic reasons only, I am talking about dedicated yogis who have put their hearts and souls into growing their community studios.  Many studio owners have worked relentlessly over many years, and decades, to grow their businesses and to be able to survive in a very competitive market. For many of us our local yoga studios are a sanctuary, a place where we can relax, learn, practice, and be inspired.

One thing that we know for sure is that the future is unpredictable and it remains to be seen how this all pans out.

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Barbara Courtille