Last week I read an article that said that in order for yoga studios to survive they need to deliver classes online.
Every news article you read or hear is talking about how businesses need to go online to thrive. I get it; online is convenient. Why would I make the trip to a store when I can shop from my sofa and get the product delivered directly to my door?
Today’s world seems to be all about convenience.
Why online yoga isn’t the right way to go
This is why I think it’s actually more important that yoga studios stay offline. There is so much that we can do today from the comfort of our own homes; order our shopping, watch movies, talk to friends, and in order to do any of this, we have to be attached to or sat in-front of some form of electronic device.
A yoga class is a chance to leave all that technology, all those distractions behind, to be free of it all for just an hour.
My online yoga experience
I’ve tried online yoga. For a long time while I opened our first studio, it was the only way to get a yoga class in. I was ridiculously busy. And, even nowadays, though the business is more stable and my time more structured, the reality is I live in St Albans while my studios are in Milton Keynes and Buckingham. It’s not always easy for me to get there.
So, for a time, I was member of an online yoga platform. The classes were good. They were led by some world renowned, highly respected yoga teachers. But doing yoga outside of a purpose built environment posed its challenges. Often I didn’t have the required props for the class. One class I started had a core workout mid way through that required you to use a blanket on a wooden floor. My floors are carpeted. Being able to see my laptop to follow the class was sometimes challenging. Particularly when the yoga teacher decided to take us on a 360 degree journey around our yoga mats and I ended up with my back to my screen.
All that said, by far my biggest challenge was staying focused: the doorbell would ring, my mind would wander; I’d hear the washing machine finish and I’d start to think about stopping my yoga class to hang it out; my yoga room was also my office, I’d look at the pile of paper on my desk and tell myself that I really didn’t have time for this. The yoga class had to really hook me for me to stay invested in it for the full hour. Often I just couldn’t switch off enough or get into the required headspace to complete the class.
Yoga studios versus online yoga
When you come to a yoga studio, you get to leave all those physical distractions behind. There’s a reason why we ask you to only take your yoga towel or mat into the studio along with your water; there’s a reason why we ask that mobile phones are left in your locker; the less items you have to distract you, the easier it will be to stay focused. The walls are white and the studio is bare for all the same reasons.
As you walk through the studio door it should signal a change. Your busy life stays on the other side of that door, just for an hour. Staying in the room for the class is part of this discipline. Yes, in a hot room we ask you to stay put for health and safety reasons, but most importantly, it puts you in a mindset that you have to stay, it puts an end to that constant niggling voice that tells you that you’ve got loads to do and you can’t spare the time for this. The biggest battle that we have is with our minds. That constant dialogue telling us we’ve got something better we should be doing, somewhere else we should be, other things to think about. If you can stay for an hour, focus on your breath, fill your mind with the yoga teacher’s voice and simply move your body as he or she is instructing you to, over time, you’ll learn to quiet that monkey mind.
The other thing that coming to a yoga studio gives you is a sense of community. To be around like minded people, to share your energy with others. A yoga class at home can be nice, but there’s nothing like the shared experience of moving through a series of postures with others. It’s that shared energy that at the end of class when you lie in your final relaxation leaves you feeling so great.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t enjoy the odd yoga class at home. But to say that online is the future for studios is concerning. Practicing in a studio is important for so many reasons, a key one, which I haven’t even covered here is safety. Who is watching your postures and ensuring that you’re practicing with good anatomical alignment (which is key to keeping you injury free), if you’re home alone?
So as you all get ready to head off on your holidays, if you’re looking for an online platform to help you keep up your yoga practice while you’re away, I’d be happy to help. But I do hope that this isn’t the future of yoga and we continue to see bricks and mortar yoga studios not just surviving but thriving.