With the push for businesses to move online, it’s important to know the best practices and areas to avoid when teaching your yoga class using Zoom. To figure this out, I signed up for my first ever online yoga class to see what works well and what could have been better.
Read on for my top tips to help you find your flow when teaching yoga online.
My first ever Zoom yoga class!
My experience was really enjoyable, with the added bonus of signing up and taking part all without leaving the house! It’s definitely true that attending yoga classes online can be much easier and, I’d go as far to say, even more relaxing for some students.
So, here’s a list of what went well and what could be avoided when you start teaching yoga online.
Clear and simple instructions
It’s very important to give audible and concise instructions. Despite being a beginner and needing all the help I could get, learning online requires clear instruction that is easy to follow while moving into a new pose.
This is why, when my teacher gave short and clear instructions on what to do next, it was easy to follow and allowed me to keep up with the flow of the class.
In a beginner Hatha class like the one I attended, the poses should already be of low difficulty. But, with that added distance from the teacher, simple poses are perfect when easing your students into a setting that they’re not used to. Combined with clear instructions, this is a sure way to give a great first impression to any new starters.
Poor sound quality can make or break your class. I can’t stress just how important this is.
I struggled with the sound when following my class, as my teacher was set up in a large empty studio far from the microphone. In an echoey room like this, at times I found myself focusing on trying to decipher the echoes of my teacher’s voice rather than enjoying the calmness of the class.
The personal touch of wandering around the room and softly giving individual pointers or adjustments is impossible when everything you say is blurted out of everyone’s laptops at the same volume.
An excellent way to address this is by providing easier variations of each pose, especially when a student is clearly struggling. In the class I attended, it was left up to me to choose which variation I felt more capable of trying and I felt all the better for it!
Would I do it again?
Absolutely! I’m not ready to move up to a harder class just yet, and my downward dog could use some more work. But at the end of a working day, taking a relaxing hour for myself in a comfy home environment was a perfect escape from the craziness of the world.
Whilst this was just one class out of the many different teachers and styles out there in the world of yoga, I could see just how important a prepared and tech-savvy teacher is to the success of any online yoga session.
My top tips for Zoom yoga classes
So, here are a few simple things I spotted to make your class flow better and provide an all-round more enjoyable experience for your students.
Remind students to check their junk mail
If I hadn’t checked my junk mail for any million-pound prize winnings, I wouldn’t have noticed my lovely confirmation email waiting to be read. Due to the pesky downsides of the online world, my yoga class email had been sorted into the junk folder, never to be seen again.
To be safe, when someone books onto one of your classes, say a big “Thank you!” and immediately mention that they should check their junk folder for a follow-up email. The last thing you want is to be sitting on your mat alone, while your students wait for the email that “never came”.
Most booking systems allow you to customise the confirmation email to include your own message, or you could do this via email marketing automation if you use this. Alternatively, if you have a manual process, you could save some standard wording that you copy and paste into each student’s confirmation email.
Include housekeeping info in the email
If you’re teaching using Zoom, you (or your chosen software) will be sending out an email to each student before the class, as I mentioned above. I received mine, but with very little information in it.
To ease any uncertainty for new students like myself, a few short lines following the Zoom link would do the trick to get them up to speed and feeling prepared for their class.
Here are some points to include in your email:
- The link to enter the Zoom class
- The time of the class
- Should they join a few minutes early?
- What will you be doing in the class?
- How much open space do they need to be comfortable?
- Will they need any props, e.g. a mat, belt, block or blanket?
This provides comfort and reassurance to your students before they muster up the courage to press the big blue ‘Join Meeting’ button and follow you in a candlelit adventure of mind and body(-aches).
Politely ask everyone to mute their microphones
In a home environment, we both know it’s a big ask to have complete silence. The slightest noise can get picked up and carried out in the middle of a relaxing pause between poses.
My teacher announced this after all the greetings and chit-chat had been covered, and gave a small notice for everyone to mute their microphones just before the class began.
Although you can and should mute everyone yourself in Zoom, it’s best to remind your students of this also, to prevent any barking dogs or small children from messing up your flow.
Best practice tips for yoga teachers using Zoom
Now you’ve heard about my experience, let’s look at some industry tips for best practices when setting up your own virtual vinyasa.
Protect your class
Security settings are important for providing a safe and professional class and there are several ways you can do this through Zoom.
This is the perfect way to monitor who is trying to join your class. When someone clicks your link to join, you can decide who to let in and who might not be in the right place. It also gives you some breathing space to hold everyone back if you’re not quite ready.
From the Zoom app, go to: Settings (or Preferences) > General > scroll down to View More Settings > enable the Waiting Room function and select the option of sending all participants into the waiting room. Easy as that!
The waiting room function can also be switched on and off when you schedule a meeting in the Zoom app.
As an extra line of defence, it may be a good idea to set a passcode for the class and only provide this information directly to each student that signs up for your class.
Go to Settings (or Preferences) > General > scroll down to View More Settings > select the Passcode function and edit the passcode to whatever you like (ideally something simple for your students to use).
You can also set a passcode when you schedule a meeting in the Zoom app.
Lock the meeting
Once everyone has joined and you’re ready to begin the class, you can lock the meeting to prevent anyone else from joining mid-session. This can be done during the class by clicking ‘Security’ and then selecting ‘Lock Meeting’.
Perfect your tech setup
It’s very important to do a test of your setup before you have students join your class. It may be worth jumping into the class 15 minutes before the start to make sure you have the following set up correctly.
Try to avoid any harsh light shining into the lens of the camera, as this can often cause a very blown out or glared image and can stop your students from getting a good view of you.
When setting up your camera, do a dry-run of the poses you’ll be teaching to make sure you’ll be in-frame throughout the entire class.
Depending on the class, you may switch from sitting to standing and vice versa, so make sure you have one camera angle that keeps the full mat in view and can capture all of your moves without repositioning.
Good sound quality is essential for good guidance. A quality microphone is invaluable, considering how long we may be sticking to Zoom classes.
Radio mics are perfect for making sure you’re able to cut out any distortion, whilst allowing distance from your laptop or other device. They’ll help you to come across as clear and professional as possible. We recommend these.
It’s also worth taking a look at your microphone settings and testing your sensitivity. If you show up in the green when speaking as you would normally in the class, you’re all set!
This can be found via Settings (or Preferences) > Audio > Microphone.
Avoid using props
It’s best to avoid the use of props that your students likely won’t have at home. You want your class to be as inclusive as possible and don’t want your students to feel left out if they don’t have access to certain equipment.
If a prop is absolutely necessary for the class, make sure you mention this in your confirmation email and provide alternative options for students, e.g. a stack of your favourite books instead of a yoga block, or a soft belt instead of a yoga strap. This way everyone can join in and get the most out of the class you’ve prepared.
Avoid musical instruments
Sadly, this is another nice-to-have that may be best left out. Chimes, bells and singing bowls might sound pleasant to you, and you may have a nifty microphone that picks up the sound well, but remember that the sound will play out of the varying quality of speakers on your students’ devices and it may come across quite distorted and unpleasant on occasion.
The same goes for chanting. Obviously, you won’t be able to include group chanting with your students unmuted, due to the time lag and varying sound quality. However, you can chant yourself and invite your students to join in whilst on mute, so they just hear themselves and you.
Need more help?
It’s a difficult time for everyone, with constant change and uncertainty in the world, but yoga remains the perfect way to practise mindfulness and release the stress of day-to-day life.
If you follow these key points for your Zoom classes, you’ll be able to seamlessly deliver your services to your existing students, whilst also broadening your reach to new students like me!
If you need more help with your tech setup, or are wondering how to attract more students to your online yoga classes, book a free consultation and let’s tackle it together!