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Zoom is the hottest yoga studio of 2020

Yoga looks different this week. The studios are empty, the music is off, and the instructors often demonstrate shapes with a couch on one side, a TV on the other, and a laptop pointed at them from across the room.

As more and more United States are quarantined To limit the spread of COVID-19, yoga studios and instructors have gone online to connect with customers and stay afloat. Yoga teachers say that giving students the opportunity to relieve stress and maintain a certain level of normality is a nice relief. But it is also an important offer for studios, many of which would otherwise reduce their income to zero, and for trainers, who are usually contractors and can therefore be overlooked by unemployment protection.

"We just lost all of our income," said Katie Baki, a yoga teacher who works in Los Angeles. "If I can supplement this with donation-based courses, it is not only a routine for my students, whom I love and who I am interested in, but it also gives me additional income if I have simply lost everything."

Die Like courses Baki offers are often held using Zoom. Baki quickly began offering donation-based yoga classes last week after the studios she worked in were closed and the housing requirements in California made it impossible for her to see her private customers. She had previously had some experience with Zoom – in an old marketing job – and liked that she could record the sessions for later and see students turning on their webcams.

With the app, studios and teachers can recreate some appearances of a normal yoga class. The instructor is in front and in the middle and takes up the big box on the video chat screen. Students can all see each other in the little boxes that seem to rotate randomly at the top of the app. Some teachers, like Baki, have emailed Spotify playlists to students so they can stay in sync with them and try to restore the mood that would be in an actual studio. For props, instructors have recommended makeshift options found in students' homes, such as a rolled-up towel instead of a cushion, stacked books for blocks, or an old t-shirt as a strap.

It's not the same as in a personal class, but some instructors have said that it sometimes feels more intimate: cats and dogs wander in and out of the frame, children scurry through, and students dive into their pajamas on.

"Interacting with families and children has meant a lot to me," said Katie Stoeckeler, an instructor and owner of New York's Peace studio in Piermont, which specializes in teaching children. “The families see other families, the children run around and are just silly. Okay, we're not alone with that. I lose my mind at home as if they lost it. We are not alone. “

Since the classes are removed, the ability of the trainers to interact with their classes is limited. Several teachers said that instead of taking notes on the shape or joking as usual, they are more focused on guiding people through the routine and helping them stay calm in a hectic time. "I want it to be an opportunity to relieve stress and feel good," said Stöckler.

Stöckler holds her cell phone next to her so that the students can ask her questions because she does not want to fly back and forth between her mat and computer. At Namaste Yoga + Wellness in Oakland, California, some studio instructors gave students the opportunity to ask questions between poses or after class. Others simply ask students to email them later. "I let the instructors choose what they feel most comfortable with," said Emily Roth, program director at Namaste. "Let them do what they have to do to teach the best they can."

The instructors and studios that jumped online say they had no problem finding an audience. In addition to her regulars, Baki said she saw people from Europe who found their classes and joined them. She was also happy that old students from other states could join. Namaste was able to support up to 10 classes a day, and Stoeckeler put almost the entire schedule of their studio online. Much of the word of mouth that helps spread these classes beyond existing students comes from Instagram, as participants post stories about themselves and tag their teachers and studios.

It also helps to have an audience ready to go online. Sky Ting, a three-location studio in New York, was already building online courses when the pandemic broke out. The subscription service started in November for $ 20 a month and saw a surge in customers during the holidays as students left town to visit the family, said founders Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan. However, Sky Ting was still not set up for live streaming, so the studio's IT person ran to Best Buy and bought a webcam before almost everything in the city was closed.

Last week, the two founders were I streamed a class from a studio near their home every day. Instead of using zoom, which limits the number of participants, Sky Ting uses Vimeo to stream courses live. This means that the instructors cannot see their students at all, but it allows the studio's stream to reach a far larger number of people. In one case, Kernaghan said that around 2,000 people intervened. (Although students can't see each other through Vimeo, Jones says some students set up zoom calls with friends to hang out during class.)

" Right now I think it is more important to be honest, just moving your body and feeling part of something, "Kernaghan said. Jones said the feedback was "super positive" and resulted in "most of the direct news we've ever received in our lives".

These small studios have competition when trying to move online. Companies like Glo, which specialize in on-demand fitness videos, are often cheaper and have more content available. Other companies such as CorePower Yoga and Tonal have even made their recorded yoga videos available free of charge for a limited period of time to attract new viewers. While viewers don't know the instructors and can't get feedback, the videos are usually much more sophisticated because they were pre-recorded (and created before the pandemic made filming an immense challenge).

But although live online courses can sometimes have as little interaction. Instructors say it's still worth seeing. If you see other participants, you may be able to stick to a trainer you know, and trainers need financial support in a way that large companies don't need.

“My students say you can feel the energy. Baki said. "I had a girl who said," Man, that energy in class was so good. "And I said," How do you know? You don't even see people. "So you feel it. You really feel it."

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