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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

Time Is of the Essence

Creating content and maintaining a Web presence can be very time-consuming. Even short blog entries that you post several times per week can take hours, especially if you want to include photos or diagrams that need to be created and uploaded to your site. An online audience expects new material on a regular basis; to keep your site fresh, you will have to add content at least once a week, if not more often.

"It's the only thing I do that I have to do consistently at the same time every week. It's a very disciplined practice for me to have to have something new to say—whether I'm traveling, whether I have relatives visiting. . . . Every Sunday night I have to sit down and think carefully about what this message is going to be for the week," says Kelly McGonigal about the discussion she leads on her website Open Mind, Open Body (http://www.openmindbody.com/).

The Cyber-Ashram

However, if you are willing to spend the time and have access to the technology, bringing the lessons of yoga to an online audience can be a very rewarding experience. "I see my website as a complete extension of how I teach," continues McGonigal. "It's as natural for me to teach through the medium of writing as it is to get up in front of a classroom and talk [to students]. I get to do all this teaching to people I would never get to teach in a classroom, and it is as effective."

Schiffmann agrees. "The ability to dialogue and share with so many people is awesome," he says. "It's fun to see how yoga is evolving. This has never been available before. It's really evidencing the fact of one Mind. The online cyber-ashram is a community of like-minded people talking and sharing about a subject they love—yoga."

Whether they are providing additional resources for their current students or chatting in a discussion group with instructors on the other side of the world, yoga teachers can use the Internet as a modern way to approach an ancient practice.

Brenda K. Plakans lives and teaches yoga in Beloit, Wisconsin. She spends several hours a week updating her blog, Grounding thru the Sit Bones (http://groundingthruthesitbones.blogspot.com/).

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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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