Webcams can connect you with teachers and students all over the world via Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts. Yet despite its ease and convenience, virtual instruction has its inherent limitations. Here, yoga teachers and students weigh in on teaching and practicing online.
"For online teaching, I find that private lessons work better than group classes, because I can give more comprehensive attention to each student. That level of attention is unfortunately just not possible in a one-hour class with 25 students. Skype privates are more expensive than regular group classes, but still cheaper than in-person privates. It took me a while to understand the best ways to adapt to the Skype setting; obviously, hands-on adjustments aren’t possible, which means I have to get really specific with cues. But at this point, online teaching has become second nature and doesn’t feel any less valuable than leading in-person classes."
—Viktoria Shushan Yoga teacher, Santa Fe, New Mexico
"I often teach one-on-one yoga classes via Skype to people who are working with me in my Ayurvedic practice but can’t travel to meet me in person. People clearly enjoy and benefit from this online instruction, but I feel there’s a limit to the depth of what can be taught. While verbal cues and visual demonstrations are incredibly important, I find that students grow the most when hands-on attention accompanies demonstrations and verbal cues."
—Scott Blossom Ayurvedic practitioner and Shadow Yoga instructor, Berkeley, California
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"For a while, I didn’t try Skype sessions because I thought they would feel cold and disconnected. What I’ve found is that it’s like we’re in the same room. I specialize in alignment, helping people with injuries, and teaching yoga safely to diverse populations; using Skype to work with people one-on-one to address these topics has been great. The video call helps me focus on watching my students’ alignment, and the super-specific cues I provide not only help them but have also improved my teaching, too."
—Jamie Elmer Yoga teacher and teacher trainer, Grand Junction, Colorado
"Skype classes are a great option, especially for students who don’t have access to good classes near them. However, teachers should keep their online sequences simple, instead of packing in untraditional transitions and poses that might be tougher to follow without in-person demos. I also believe teachers should make a concerted effort to see their students in person, if possible, which helps build a connection."
—Kathryn Budig Yoga teacher and author of Aim True, Charleston, South Carolina
"It’s remarkable how well my instructor is able to identify alignment issues and give clear, concise adjustment cues via Skype. She also encourages follow-up calls or emails if I have any questions after each session, and I feel comfortable contacting her. This is an added bonus—something you don’t necessarily get at a studio class."
—Jill Jones Yoga student, Spokane, Washington