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Becoming an online yoga teacher: Learning to navigate a new way of teaching.

By Ashley Michelle

“Ok what the heck am I doing here? Is this thing on? Can you hear me? Can you guys see me? Check one, two. Am I too loud?”

I shout into the tiny camera on my phone, trying to operate Facebook Live and the Zoom meeting app.

This has been my constant dialogue for the last month and a half. Trying to switch my in-person, in-studio, yoga teaching business to the new normal of online classes has been nothing but an uphill challenge. From spotty country WiFi to tiny, 562 square foot house living with kids and crazy dogs, finding the best space and time to teach has been at the top of my stress.

With a super supportive partner and a strong mind set, I repeatedly tell myself that I will make this work. I must make this work!

When I first lost my jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, like most people, I needed to figure out a way to keep myself going. When I say keep myself going, I don’t mean I needed to keep myself busy. I have lots of things to keep me busy - projects to work on, hobbies to do and books to read.

When I say I needed to find a way to keep myself going, I mean in terms of personal inspiration. I needed to figure out a way to keep inspiration flowing through me and I especially needed to find a way to be there for my students, to help them maintain their own inspiration.

For me, being a yoga teacher is the best job in the world. You get to share insight and a little yogi wisdom while guiding students to take the journey within. You also get to encourage people to practice mindfulness while staying connected to their mind, body and breath.

Being a yoga teacher is also the ultimate way to practice what you preach. All these tips, tricks and tools offered in yoga teacher training courses, and all the yogic texts and studies (such as Patanjalis Yoga Sutras and The Bhagavad Gita) not only provide great class content but they also lay out an ideal perspective on living.

It’s a path which personally helped me kick addictions, change my diet, and just live life in a more compassionate and connected way. I became a yoga teacher so I could prove that this 'yoga stuff’ actually works.

I have been teaching yoga for almost two years now. In January 2020, I was finally able to grow my business and rent shared studio space with some amazing women. (Shout out to The Spiritual Spa in Niagara Falls.) I could finally create my own class times and schedule and I was slowly starting to see a modest profit. My yoga teaching dreams were coming true.

Cut to March 17, 2020. Taps Brewhouse, the restaurant my partner owns, and I manage: closed. The Spiritual Spa: closed. Pretty much the whole world: closed.

Now what? What are we supposed to do? Both mine and my partner’s sole income was coming from our restaurant. Like millions of others, we were left in limbo.

But I have been fortunate enough to have cultivated a personal toolbox of all thing’s yoga.

During this self-isolation I have been able to practice what I preach more often than not. Mainly, I’ve been trying to take it moment by moment, breath by breath and remain present amid all of this chaos.

The thing that keeps me in check the most is this: Life always is and always will be beautifully chaotic. When you think about it, we have no control over anything other than how we choose to react to any given situation.

My focus tends to veer towards control because I am a self-proclaimed control freak. After many online yoga class trials and errors, I just want them to be perfect. I want the picture, quality and sound to be spectacular and I want to give my students the best yoga experience I can give them as a teacher.

But hang on a minute. Sharing online yoga classes isn’t about who’s got the best equipment and the prettiest setting. I somehow managed to teach a full 60-minute Facebook Live class with my video sideways (I didn’t realize if you rotate your camera horizontally while on selfie mode, the viewer sees you sideways.) After laughing at myself, only realizing what I had done when class was over, I had to check in and remember what my intentions are and what’s important. That’s showing up, teaching and sharing all things yoga for those who want a piece of it.

I am a strong believer in trusting in the universe, and right now, I believe the universe is telling us to wake up. I believe now more than ever we need community and connection and even though we cannot have it physically at this very moment, we can join our friends and family online. We can watch our favourite musicians play music for us online, we can take yoga classes online. We can still connect with each other very closely, but from a distance.

I am a people person. I am an extrovert and it’s been different not being able to connect in the way that some of us are so used to. However, I have been learning an endless number of things about myself as a person and as a yoga teacher.

Listen: right now, we are all in a space of waiting and watching for what will happen next. Many of us are living our lives in fear. The unknown is super scary, yes! But ask yourself this: hasn’t it always been that way anyway? We cannot predict what will happen in the next few months, days, minutes. I encourage you to try keep your worries at bay, even if just for a few moments each day. After all, we are all in this together.

From my home to yours I am sending each and every person reading this, and those who don’t, much peace, love and safety during this extremely trying time. We are all one. All beings in the entirety of the universe are all connected. Keep your head up, your heart full and feel free to join me online.

~ May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be at peace and at ease. ~


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