Yoga during COVID-19 - Online vs Offline Yoga
Updated: Feb 8
Intrigued by the current surge of online yoga and meditation offerings, I conducted a little bit of research to see what people actually thought of online vs offline yoga and meditation in this truly unique situation that we are currently going through. I managed to get a small but statistically interesting sample size, and here are the results:
The majority of respondents to my survey had taken an online yoga class since social distancing started, and more than three quarters of those that did had previously been to an "offline" yoga class and were able to answer the all important question: Did they enjoy the online yoga experience more, less - or the same?
Studio owners will sigh a breath of relief, only 8% enjoyed online yoga MORE than offline yoga, and the main reason was convenience (less travel, parking, on-demand classes), cost, being able to try out new and famous teachers.
25% of respondents enjoyed online the same as offline, mostly as they were able to keep going with yoga and support their local studio.
Out of the 37% that enjoyed online LESS than offline many said that they missed the human element (the hugs!), the studio atmosphere and adjustments (physical or cues), others did not want to be looking at a screen more than they already were during the day and several were not happy with the quality of the streaming or recording.
Half of the respondents said they had taken an online class with a local studio they were already a student at, but more than half (59%) took advantage of free classes on Youtube or Facebook.
Competition in the online yoga market is fierce, even more now than it was a few weeks ago. Big online yoga outfits have beautiful recording studios and produce high quality videos that are extremely popular. There are also apps that do a fantastic job of bringing yoga to the masses. And then there are other online fitness classes, apps, videos, etc. A hugely competitive market. Going online is for many studios a way to reduce the financial impact of closing the studio, to stay connected with their students, stay in their minds and for students it is an opportunity to take classes with teachers they know, supporting the studio they love. Thank goodness for the technology that allowed us to literally change our business models within hours and move to offering online yoga quickly.
Will online yoga replace the physical studios? I certainly hope not, but I honestly also do not think so. Studios have a very unique selling point of speaking to all the senses, smell, touch and feel, physically creating a space for people to remove themselves from the outside world. Ensuring that spaces are hygienic and protecting everyone's health and safety even after the current crisis has passed will hopefully never cease to be a priority. Studios will be back. Teachers will be back. Students are already craving coming back. This is in our future, no doubt.
Studios will be ready and waiting for you. In the meantime, as students, make the best of online yoga when you find time and have the headspace. Support local studios and individual teachers, many of whom miss their students right from the bottoms of their hearts. As teachers, continue teaching online but don't feel you have to teach online just because others do. I have spoken to several teachers who feel extremely sad and stressed by the thought of teaching online. To have an income, however, many of you have to, and my heart goes out to you all.
Remember, this will end and the need for yoga will still be there, maybe more than ever. We will enter a changed world, but that does not mean it won't be a better, more beautiful world.
Stay happy, stay healthy, stay peaceful.
(Unwind Yoga Studio is located in Cookham, Maidenhead, in Berkshire)