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Online Yogis: Expanding Your Teaching into Cyberspace

An online presence can help you to support your local students outside of the classroom, as well as expand your audience beyond geographical borders to serve a global yoga community.

By Brenda K. Plakans

computer

The Internet has become indispensable for making life easier: You can pay bills, check in with family members, read the news and order groceries, all in one sitting. It was inevitable that yoga would also expand online, and many yoga teachers are finding the Internet a useful tool for reaching students.

"By far, the best outcome is the improved and increased communication between everybody, as well as being able to talk to so many people that I'll probably never meet in person," reflects yoga teacher Erich Schiffmann about his website, Moving into Stillness (http://www.movingintostillness.com/index.html). "I can type in a response at a time that is convenient for me, hit the enter button, and suddenly it is available to everyone, everywhere."

Content, Content, Content

The first step to establishing an online presence is deciding what information you want to communicate. "The most important thing is content. People don't like to hop around to 20 different little websites," emphasizes Suzanne LaForest (http://www.letterdance.com/stillwave/suzanne.htm), a yoga teacher and moderator of Schiffmann's online chat community. "They would like to find a site that's well-organized and has lots of information that they can trust and that they feel somebody is sorting through."

This material could be anything from sequencing information from a recent class, to dissecting a more difficult pose, to musing on an aspect of yogic philosophy. It can provide a specific group of students with a listing of local yoga events, or it can serve interested yogis everywhere and encourage discussion between the host of the site and its visitors.

Getting the Word out: Personal Websites and Blogs

Once you've started assembling material, you need to decide how to present it. Personal websites and blogs can include written information, display pictures and drawings, offer audio or video downloads, and sell merchandise.

If you want to get started immediately, you can set up a free blog account with such sites as Blogger (at http://www.blogger.com/start) or Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/). Most Internet providers offer free website templates and hosting with an email account. If you want more control over how your site looks and the features it offers, you may look into investing in some easy-to-understand website design software, such as Adobe's Dreamweaver or Microsoft's FrontPage.

The Power of the Voice: Podcasts

Other vehicles for your yoga message are audio or video podcasts. Although these approaches require more equipment, because your voice or video must be prerecorded on a digital recorder, they offer the immediacy of the spoken word. You can post a podcast on a website or blog, or onto iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/), the online media store, where it can be downloaded to any computer or MP3 player. This way you can present demonstrations of asana or guided meditations, and you can even run interviews.

Lara Cestone, creator of the podcast interview show Yogapeeps (at http://yogapeeps.com/), says, "Podcasts are new and exciting. You can listen while you cook, do the laundry, walk the dog, or commute. It's also less dense than a blog. It's more relaxing as well, as you aren't sitting staring at a screen, but you are active, moving and listening."

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Reader Comments

Yoga Baron

Great article. Succinct and to the point. I'm a huge advocate of yoga teachers taking their yoga teaching online in many forms.

I suspect some teachers worry that online yoga will keep students away from yoga studios, but I disagree. The key to people regularly going to yoga classes is regularly doing yoga. When people consistently do yoga, they will consistently attend their chosen classes.

Consequently, online yoga is something to be encouraged because yogis can more easily maintain a yoga practice throughout the week and will more likely attend a class.

If a yoga teacher or studio has the resources to establish yoga classes online, then that is a fantastic way to expand their services and teaching. These days it doesn't take much to create videos and post them online. Whether simply yoga slideshows or video-recorded classes, with a little planning and preparation, many studios could build up a nice online yoga class library.

Lyndi

There is a bit of a learning curve for podcasts and videos yet the recommendation is to keep it simple and short.

There are lots of free tools to help do video editing and Windows live movie maker will even publish your videos from the application for you.

Using tools like Twitter and Facebook is great. Students get a chance to get to know their instructors. A lot of yoga studios are even showcasing their instructors though social media and allowing them to get a little spotlight.

Swapan Mookerjee

Nice article. This is where things are going with regard to media and marketing. Just a very humble observation. A "yogi" is someone who has attained a high level of spiritual enlightenment through yogic practice. One cannot anoint himself/herself or others with this title just because they have mastered some physical practices.
Namaste

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