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The Surprising Benefits of Pandemic Teaching

We’ve all seen the memes- the ones that declare 2020 the worst year ever. They usually have an image of someone in grave danger or in excruciating pain and the source of their suffering is the entire year of 2020 so far. And I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt that way, especially this March when COVID-19 hit the United States and I was forced to shut down nearly all business operations and clear my event calendar for the foreseeable future. I cried when that happened. I panicked, and I thought that this might be the end of everything I had worked so hard to build over the years and that absolutely killed me. This year so far has been tough, and it has been especially tough on those that do things like teach yoga for a living especially during a pandemic. 

But what if it isn’t all bad?

What if there is a small, hidden silver lining to all of this that if you look closely you can see. Hear me out. It might sound a bit crazy to say that there are positive things coming from the current state we are in, but I would like to present an alternative to the narrative that 2020 has completely ruined everything and all is not lost. In fact, I would go as far as to say there have been some surprising benefits to surviving a pandemic as a yoga teacher. 

First, I challenge you to think about how the current state of our world has caused you to expand creatively in your business and in your teaching. Many of us, myself included, found ourselves face to face with a sink or swim moment. How can we rise to the challenge of having to bring our teaching online, and reach out to students even when we were all under stay at home orders and keep ourselves afloat during that transition. Sure, it may not be the same or feel as secure as your regular studio gig but as soon as things began to shut down I saw thousands of teachers beginning to bring their teaching online, and scrambling to figure out the logistics of virtual instruction and classes, without having time to second guess what they were doing or waiting for everything to be perfect. They just did it. And it worked.

You know what they say, necessity is the mother of innovation.

I’ve heard from dozens of teachers that told how they had been thinking about launching a website, or adding a video component to their teaching, or even starting a podcast or YouTube channel “someday” that never would have actually come to fruition had their feet not been held against the fire due to the pandemic. 

What might have felt like a scramble at the moment was actually the construction of the foundation of a new online presence, revenue stream, and skills that you acquired that you know how to do and can continue to do even when 2020 has passed. A few of the things that you have probably learned how to do in the last few months probably include how to run classes online, building confidence in front of the camera, navigating taking online payments, creating engaging and consistent online content, and streamlining your communication with students through automated systems and lists. 

Consider this-If stay at home orders are put in place again, or perhaps when this is over and you want to start traveling, create more freedom in your schedule, or maybe you find yourself in a currency situation like mine where you are pregnant or have a family situation in which you can now only teach from your home- you now have the ability to do that. You, my friend, have built the foundation of a more resilient and location independent business which you can continue to benefit from long past the trials of 2020 and navigate online with ease. 

Another aspect that I have been contemplating recently is not only the increased demand for services like ours due to increased global stress and unrest, but also the possibilities to reach a larger and more global audience by going online. When you teach in your local area you are mostly pigeon holed into your local geographic area, which limits how many students you can reach at a time. When you take your teaching online and begin offering virtual services, you now open up the door to teach anyone, anywhere on the globe as long as they have access to the internet. I personally experienced this a few months ago when downloads of my podcast increased by nearly 400% in a single week, just by people who were searching for anxiety reducing meditations. People everywhere were looking for ways to keep their fear and anxiety at a manageable level through online classes and services. This happened simply because my meditations were available entirely online and could be accessed anytime from anywhere. 

And this can happen to your business as well. Now that you are offering classes online you are able to reach anyone, anywhere. There are people all over the globe looking for someone that teaches like you, and now that you’re online they can finally find you. This is the time to start thinking bigger and offering your serves on a global scale, instead of a local scale. Consider recording your live classes so those in different time zones can still participate when it’s an appropriate time at their home. Create engaging and consistent content on social media to attract students from all over the globe. Now that you have the means for students to practice with you anywhere, that will not go away and you are off to building a global teaching presence, and not just a local one. 

Perhaps above all, one of my favorite benefits from teaching in the COVID era is the new collaborations and business relationships that have been formed.

During this time we were challenged to sink or swim, and for many that meant trying to swim together. Special classes and events that were collaborated on by those that may not have worked together or would not have considered a collaboration before. I’ve watched while new business relationships have been formed, creative events have been put on, and the yoga community has banded together to survive this time we find ourselves in, and for many, ultimately coming out stronger on the other side. In fact, you may find that this pandemic was exactly what you needed to spark some major growth and resilience in your business that will allow you to go places you’ve never dreamt of before.

Watch beYogi’s Webinar “5 Steps to Becoming a Successful Yoga Teacher” for helpful tips to launch your yoga business to the next step.

Kelly Smith
Kelly is the founder of Yoga For You, and the host of the Mindful in Minutes podcast. She is an E-RYT 500, YACEP, and a location independent yoga and meditation teacher. She spends her days traveling globally offering trainings in restorative yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, writing blogs for beYogi, and recording meditations from her closet.
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