Live from Your Local Yoga Studio

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Since we posted our article on How to Make your Yoga Studio Unfriendly to Coronavirus, the landscape has changed quickly, and many yoga studios have been forced to close. Some yoga teachers have begun broadcasting their classes online so that their students can stay connected to the teachers and practices they love. We are super excited about this, and we reached out to Yoga Anytime teacher Kari Sims Anthon to share her experience teaching her first live class this weekend from her “she-shed” in Sisters, Oregon.

[Yoga Anytime]: Kari, you were an early responder to the COVID-19 situation in your yoga studio in Sisters, Oregon, making tough decisions about removing props and reducing class sizes to minimize spreading the virus. Now you have fully closed Life.Love.Yoga for an unknown amount of time, and are broadcasting classes online. You did your first one today. Congratulations! We want to know all about it! Have you ever broadcasted or taught live online before?

[Kari Sims Anthon]: Never! My only yoga teaching experience outside of in-person classes was filming for YogaAnytime back in 2016. This was a completely new adventure for me.

[YA]: How did you decide which technology to use?

[KSA]: I used the ZOOM platform for a variety of reasons: (1) It was free for me and for my students to utilize, (2) The students could join from whatever they had available (phone, tablet, laptop, smartTV) with a simple unique link, and (3) A variety of other yoga teachers and studios had recommended ZOOM as an easy online teaching tool. Even the class management software we use in-studio (PunchPass) had sent out an email detailing how we could integrate online ZOOM classes with our existing students punch cards if we wanted.

[YA]: How did you communicate to your students about the closure and online offering?

[KSA]: We have been in constant communication with our students since COVID-19 first showed up in Oregon, and continue to do so as things change and develop as rapidly as they are. We have been sending out e-mail updates to our mailing list, posting on social media, hanging up signs in our studio windows, anything to spread the word about how we are responding. Most importantly, we communicate that we will continue to be there for our community, as we need each other and our practices now more than ever!

[YA]: Where did you film from? How did you set up your filming space ? What are the top 3 to 5 most important things other yoga teachers wanting to broadcast should consider?

[KSA]: I filmed “live from the she-shed”! I have a home yoga space that my 6-year old likes to refer to as the “she-shed”, so I just set up my laptop on a chair facing my mat. Nothing too fancy! But we did make sure to have lots of bright lights, to open all the curtains, and to test the audio to make sure the students could hear me well. My husband and I did a quick “test” on his cellphone to help adjust the lights and sound to be sure that everything was clear from the student view. I did not use a web cam or microphone, but made sure that the laptop was close by so it could pick up the sound well. We minimized all background noise - for example I turned off the heat, and we woke up to fresh snow today, so that was chilly!

I think one of the big takeaways was to be sure to mute all of your participants as soon as they enter the ZOOM meeting because with multiple participants there is a lot of feedback and background noise. It was also great to have the chat function available both before and after class so there could be communication and connection without the audio functionality. That allowed us all to be together live and in-person, but without being in the same physical space. From a teaching standpoint just assume that your students don't have any yoga props - so I encouraged them to use a blanket or towel and pillow from their couch to improvise.

[YA]: What was the response?

[KSA]: The response has been amazing!! We had well over 40 participants join us this morning for our first trial class. I had students from all over join in - from just down the road in Sisters, Oregon to students from California and Iowa, and that's just who I know about! I have had a ton of DM’s and emails and text messages already today from students telling me how grateful they were to release some of their anxiety and to just be together in community.

[YA]: What did it feel like for you?

[KSA]: It was wonderful to connect virtually with so many people! I know that a lot of us are feeling uneasy right now, and the social distancing and fear can take a toll on our minds and hearts. This was a wonderful way to connect without having to be in the same room. To take a collective exhale, and remember that we are in this together.

[YA]: How was it the same or different than being with each other in person?

[KSA]: It was very different from the teaching standpoint for me because I always teach to who is in the room. I adjust my in-person classes constantly minute by minute depending on who shows up, the energy level, the exhales… so without being able to hear or see my students, I just had to teach from my own mind/body experience. But, the Yoga is what always does the real work anyways, not me. I just had to move and breathe and let the practice take over, trusting that my students were just happy that we were all along for the ride!

[YA]: What was the best surprise from the experience?

[KSA]: One of the unexpected benefits of this live streaming class was that my 6 year old son Auckland was also able to participate and connect in with some of his friends as well! A lot of my students are moms, who are now suddenly at home with their kiddos due to school and work closures, etc. Many of the students who logged in this morning had their kids with them on the floor of the living room, so my son was able to wave and say hello to some of his friends and get that social connection too! I also had another mom write to me after class to tell me that she logged on with her parents and her kids - so we had a 3 generations moving and breathing together! That brought the biggest smile to my face, because this practice happens in relationship. And even though we have to be apart right now, we are all still connected.

[YA]: What is your regular online schedule gonna be and how do we join?

[KSA]: Our students have had such a positive response to this that we are going to start to offer daily live ZOOM classes for the foreseeable future while the studio is closed. Some of our other teachers are also on-board to teach virtually as well, so we are hoping to offer many of our regularly scheduled classes online - in a variety of styles with a variety of teachers - starting right away. We will be posting our schedule to our social media accounts, and to our website, as things develop.

If you’d like to join Kari’s online classes, follow her on Instagram or Facebook. Or practice with her here!

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