An expert Athens-based yoga teacher reveals the new perspectives and positive potential of bringing her yoga classes online.
By Tina Myntz Zymaraki
Today, just a few clicks online can yield everything yoga. From an unknown
guru’s guiding relaxation to Californian goat yoga, traditional
tantric texts translated into 2020 techniques for better sex and metta meditation for moms to animated mindfulness tips for toddlers.
It’s no secret that from the caves and wilderness of South Asia to its migration West (and ironically, its return and unprecedented popularity back East), yoga has become big business. It packs parks and stadi, ums, conferences and festivals, brick and mortar spaces and a wide spectrum of websites with hundreds or even thousands of aspiring yogins and yoginis.
When the pandemic hit…
Yoga’s been booming and exploding steadily the world over, both online and in real-life classes. When the pandemic hit, the frenetic pace with which we consume came to a screeching halt. Millions of trainers, teachers, and facilitators
(including yours, truly) across the globe found themselves with little
or no access to students, clients and followers- as any semblance of a steady income- from one week to the next. Many, if not most of us, scrambled to stay in touch with students and expand our offerings, as we ventured into the unknown world of online teaching. For most of us, the aim was to continue serving and offering even within the confines of the screens- despite our own fears, neuroses, and worries.
There was a steep learning curve as we learned to navigate what for many
(I see you, fellow-introverts) was a first attempt to put our work and vulnerabilities out in the public eye. We had to embrace video and battle connectivity and insecurity issues as we figured out ways to build community and continuity in a somewhat fragmented, unpredictable, and fear-filled period.
Paradoxically, for many students, having regularly scheduled live stream classes was a fantastic opportunity to begin, nurture, or deepen their practice. To reconnect with beloved teachers from the past, or discover new instructors. To return to a cherished practice or explore different modalities.
Looking At the Big Picture
What I discovered was that those isolated, gruelling quarantined months of regular online classes turned out to be an opportunity to reconnect, grow community, and reignite a passion for practice and wellbeing.
As an early adopter of the new technology, by mid-March I’d converted all my “in-person” classes to an online version and was adding daily classes to a full schedule. Despite initial apprehensions, I managed to transition from tech-phobic introversion to Zoom Confidence and a very public YouTube channel in a matter of weeks.
I was suddenly teaching daily Zoom classes with my delightful and adorable cats supervising and making guest appearances. Teaching students from all over Greece and abroad was a horizon-expanding, border-busting, ground-breaking, heart-fulfilling time. I can say for all of us.
A different Kind of Connectivity
It was a real gift to have the kind of presence, consistency, and
student attendance we normally only get a glimpse of on retreats or in teacher
training. Having this kind of intimacy and access to the group of
regulars gave me the opportunity to delve deeper, to nourish more fully,
to playfully explore and for many of us present, to somehow heal.
Looking ahead, I’m convinced that some form of online and live stream yoga sessions are here to stay. They will continue to be part of our lives, even after the
return to a studio space or gym feels safe and reasonable. Studio owners need not fear: there will always be a need and desire for a dedicated, distraction-free space to congregate, practice, and connect.
Embracing the online is not a binary matter of replacing or supplanting the “in-person” experience. The power and energy of δια ζώσης, “through living or being”, as it’s called in Greek, will always be a transformative tool and balm to modern life. That said, I suspect that after so many of us experienced the transformation, learning, and connection that can blossom through the online platforms we’ll be holding the technology a little closer at hand and in heart.
Check out Tina’s YouTube channel for accessible, functional, free recordings of full length and short form classes.