I’m sure, like me, you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you realized that this pandemic was real and here to stay.
For me, I was sitting at my tiny desk that I had wedged in between my bed and closet in my apartment bedroom. I was about to check-in for a flight to London where I would kick off a two-and-a-half-week pop-up yoga training tour in the UK.
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it was a dream. Because this tour never became reality.
I had hesitantly decided to continue on with the tour, even though there were rumblings of borders being closed, a new virus called COVID-19, and uncertain times ahead.
But as I started checking in for my flight I received the news that we were under stay-at-home orders. International flights had been grounded and that for the foreseeable future my training and teaching would be put on hold.
At this moment, my first thought was disbelief.
Was this really happening?
Then my second thought was, "Oh S?!*".
What does this mean for my career as a yoga teacher? An industry that relies on community, being face to face with your students, and having in-person connections.
I, like many yoga teachers, found myself wondering what this meant for the future, my business, and when would we ever be back in person again, not to mention wondering if my business would even survive this pandemic.
At the time, it all felt so unknown, scary, and unpredictable.
It felt unfair, and so many of us didn’t know what this meant for us as yoga teachers. But now, two years removed, we have been given the space to use hindsight..
We are able to look at some of the lessons learned by reflecting on the changes that happened, the pivots that were necessary, and how the yoga community shifted, changed, and evolved due to the pandemic.
Yoga Teacher Pandemic Lessons: What I Learned During the Pandemic
Some Said Good-Bye
It is important to recognize that not all studios and teachers stayed in the yoga game.
For some, the pandemic meant closing the doors, finding a new career, or saying good-bye to their time as a yoga teacher and business owner.
For some, this was bittersweet as they were already contemplating a change, and this made the decision easier for them, but for others this meant saying goodbye to a dream they had been working on for years.
From a business perspective, the pandemic quickly showed the resiliency of a yoga business, and the health of the current revenue streams going into that business as well as where there were gaps in our business models.
Many of the businesses that closed their doors were studios that relied solely on in-person classes, drop-in students, and monthly memberships.
Although, in a pre-pandemic world this was a perfectly good business model, in a post-pandemic world we are seeing more studios shifting to a hybrid model, or having other streams of revenue such as trainings, podcasts, digital downloads, and even books.
Exploring new streams of revenue gives teachers and studios a little breathing space, in case new stay-at-home orders were put in place, or in person classes were paused for any reason, and those that survived the last two years are stronger and more resilient than before.
The pandemic has changed the way we think about a yoga teaching business model, and has challenged us to build more financial resilience, as the pandemic shined light on the gaps in our business.
The Great Online Migration
Perhaps one of the biggest shifts, and lessons learned was how to take your teaching online…and fast!
Once we knew that we would be indoors, and studio doors would be closed for well beyond the initial two weeks was how to take your teaching online.
Even those who hadn’t heard of zoom before found themselves setting up at home practice spaces, learning the platform, and diving into the world of online teaching.
With any change, this was a bit clunky at first, but now many teachers and studios have found their stride and comfort with a hybrid model of in person and online teaching that they never would have had before the pandemic.
Although some have returned to in-person teaching, or a hybrid model, some never returned to in-person teaching as they found the freedom that being location independent could bring, and continue to teach classes on Youtube, via zoom, and even live on social media.
What would have seemed like a strange option two years ago, is now the norm and teachers are able to share their classes from anywhere in the world virtually.
Over the past two years, we have all gained much more tech knowledge and skill than we had before, and are equipped to be able to take our teaching online at any time, which may serve as a useful tool in the future, or help us find freedom and flexibility in our lives now.
Teachers Began Dabbling in New Modalities
In the thick of the pandemic, we saw an influx in teachers dabbling in new modalities like meditation, tarot, and astrology to supplement their teaching.
Not only did many teachers find they had extra time on their hands, and had the space to start learning something new, many realized that teaching asana classes online wasn’t their favorite, so they branched out and found new ways to serve their students, and pivoted into sharing new things.
I personally, saw an influx in the amount of yoga teachers that wanted to join my online meditation teacher training so they could start offering meditation as a service, or start a meditation podcast.
I also saw a lot of the teachers that I was working with start offering yoga nidra, or doing live oracle readings on social media, or begin offering birth chart readings as a service.
These new modalities that many began to explore during this time not only diversified their offerings, but gave teachers a small respite from the monotony of lockdown life.
We collectively learned new skills, new teaching styles, and took the time to dive head first into something we had been wanting to learn, and share for a while and opened the doors for a pivot in what we were sharing with our students.
Collaboration Over Competition
Along with going online, we saw an increase in collaboration over competitions.
Before the pandemic, there was at times and sense of competition with other local teachers, but when we all went online and could connect with people from anywhere in the globe that began to change.
We made new connections, online friendships, and built new and lasting connections online with teachers across the globe.
Over the past two years, we as a yoga teacher community have learned about the power of collaboration over competition, and how we can come together to become stronger and support one another during challenging and uncertain times.
New, exciting collaborations are popping up everywhere, and the support and relationships that were made during this time led to lasting community and collaborations that are strengthening the yoga teacher community as a whole.