I need to confess something: I once believed that there was no way you could properly teach or learn yoga online. It just wasn’t “good enough” or “the real deal.” UGH! But this pandemic has taught me so much and I’m the wiser for it. I bet you’ve also noticed yoga transition online during these past six months. You can get everything online now, from group yoga classes and private sessions to yoga teacher trainings.
We’re at a significant turning point in the history of yoga: The decisions we make today as yoga teachers in response to this global crisis will have a lasting impact on the practice of yoga itself. I know it sounds dramtic but it’s true. Teaching asana classes online is one thing – but grooming yoga teachers online is a whole different offering. I wanted to highlight the pros & cons of an online yoga teacher training in this blog. We need to be careful & not hasty in this transition. As yoga teachers we need to be very thoughtful as to how we take yoga teacher trainings online . As with everything, you can find a good way of doing it, one that elevates both your life and your yoga. Then there’s the other side, the way that only benefits you as the teacher, not your students or your yoga practice in the long term.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of online yoga teacher training.
When the pandemic hit states started closing down, we witnessed so many things go online literally overnight. Yoga was no exception in this. In fact, I’m so grateful that yoga as a fitness and wellness activity has the ability to transition online unlike, say, the beauty industry, dentistry, or any other hands-on services. If we really look, yoga classes were already being taught online by a few for the past couple of years. Even in the fitness world, not all formats transition equally well to the virtual environment. For example, I’ve found it’s a lot harder to teach Bollywood dance remotely compared to yoga.
As yoga students and teachers we got really lucky that we can continue to have a somewhat uninterrupted experience and (sometimes even expanded!) access to our favorite teachers and classes. There are so many great things about doing yoga online—but is teaching teachers online the same? Is there anything missing? What doesn’t carry over from a physical, in-person class to the online experience? Understanding the answers to both these questions will help you make the safest and best decisions for yourself as the world continues to navigate this pandemic.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of doing yoga online. Those of you who know me know that I love making lists! I’ve got you covered with this comprehensive list highlighting the impact of going virtual on both yoga teachers and students.
Benefits of online yoga teacher training:
- Easy and Massive Access to teachers
This one is pretty straightforward: Online yoga means easy access! You can do yoga practically anywhere but since we’re all staying indoors as much as possible these days, now it’s mostly from the comfort of our own homes. This increases the access to yoga classes as there’s no time lost to driving to and from studios and, with so many things we would normally do outside the home being closed, potentially more time for yoga or indulging in other types of workouts. All you need is a streaming device and internet connection—book yourself into a well-rounded yoga teacher training and you’re good to go. As a yoga teacher and studio owner, I’ve been able to get access to amazing senior teachers online, some of whom I could otherwise never have dreamed of studying with.
- A Smaller Carbon Footprint
By working out from home we leave less of a carbon footprint on the planet. Think about it: You’re saving on gas consumption by not driving to the studio and in the past you may have also grabbed a coffee or a green smoothie on your way home. Even the studio itself generates less trash as a result of moving things online. Personally, this is the biggest pro because if you follow me online you know I’m big on low-waste living and related topics. It’s something we should continue to aspire to even after the pandemic.
- Saving Money
Online classes can potentially be a tad bit cheaper as there are no large studio overheads. Running a studio can get expensive quickly—rent and other ongoing facility costs add up pretty fast. With many people broadcasting classes from home, you can end up saving money as a yoga student as they are potentially priced differently. You also save on additional costs like hiring a babysitter, taking an Uber, or other transportation-related expenses like parking fees and tolls, etc.
There are many other advantages of online yoga but these are the main three… All in all, it sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? So, what’s the downside? Let’s take a look.
The cons of online yoga teacher training:
- It’s Harder to Focus
When you’re at home, it’s a lot harder to disconnect from day-to-day distractions. Depending on what stage of life you’re in, you may have a newborn baby or toddlers running around the house. It’s a lot harder to zone in if you can hear someone watching Netflix or your baby is crying in the next room! I’ve even seen people’s dogs jump all over them during yoga practice. Though it’s often cute and funny, background noise and interruptions can make it a lot harder to remain present in your practice. Whether you’re the student or the yoga teacher, all these factors can make it harder.
- A Lack of Personalization
This is what I struggle with the most and if you teach, I’m sure you feel this too. When I’m teaching an in-person class, I’m able to provide a ton of personalized attention to support each student’s practice, helping individuals do better and go deeper. It’s a lot harder to accomplish this online; as the teacher, you’ve got to move constantly to give people a clear reference to follow and depending on how people position their devices and the lighting in their rooms, it can be hard to see exactly what they’re doing. Not to forget the fact that there’s a lot of theory covered in these teacher training and zoom fatigue is well known at this point.
- A Lack of Community
The most joyful aspect of my job is the community we’ve built over the years. I’ve had the pleasure of noticing students become best friends with the person who practices with their mat next to them. Your yoga teacher training classmates sometimes become your best friends for life. This community is so significant for a new yoga teacher. However much you love online yoga, there’s nothing like the magic of the group energy of people moving and breathing together. No matter what, you always feel better after leaving a group yoga class.
So just to recap, the advantages of online yoga teacher trainings are:
Easy access for both the teacher and the student
A lower carbon footprint for the planet
The cons of online yoga teacher trainings are:
It’s harder to disconnect from daily distractions
There’s less personalized attention
It’s harder to feel like part of a real community
I hope this list gives you a better insight into the major differences between online and in-person yoga. Which one is better overall? Only you can answer that for yourself. I do think it’s a lot easier to do online yoga if you’re an experienced yoga practitioner; as a beginner it might be simpler to head to an actual studio yoga class at first if you are able. Regardless it’s worth reminding ourselves that doing some yoga—whether online or in person—is better than none!
Thank you so much for joining me! I also had a chat with Jason Crandell on my Let’s Talk Yoga podcast about this very same topic and you’ll find some valueable insights there. If you want to download this list, head over to Let’s Talk Yoga to find the show notes and more. If you have add-ons to this list, please find me on Facebook and Instagram so we can connect! I’ll see you next week with another deep dive into….
Until then, take care!