Has lockdown permanently changed the yoga class landscape?

If ever there was a time the world needed yoga, it’s now. It feels heavily ironic, then, that avid yogis had their go-to classes cancelled overnight because of Covid-19. Thank god for the internet though (possibly the slogan of this entire crisis), which has enabled yoga teachers to continue to reach their clients, and to tap into larger audiences too. 

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As this pandemic continues to prove, good things can be born out of bad. One yoga teacher who uses Ticket Tailor and who took part in one of our recent webinars, Suzy Bolt from 360mindbodysoul, told us that shortly after Covid hit, she found herself “ready to be creative again”, and needed to “have a reinvention moment.” In other words – this unprecedented turn of events has been a sort of positive force for many, giving them the gumption needed to get imaginative with their offering, and even to improve it. 

Same, but different

Online yoga classes have been popular for some time now. Just look at Adriene Mishler, who has more than seven million YouTube subscribers and a fanbase that feels as zealous as that of a chart-topping artist. But the difference here lies in the fact that there’s no choice about all of this now. Yoga has to be taught online, and so it’s forced even the most steadfast traditionalists in the yogi community to embrace the virtual class. Not forgetting the live element of these sessions, which enables teachers to interact with class members in a way that could never happen on a pre-recorded YouTube video. Interactivity also means they can sell tickets online rather than having to rely on getting enough traffic to make money from advertising. 

It seems people are loving this new take on the traditional gym class. Going back to Suzy Bolt’s discussion about her experience as a yoga teacher in a post-Covid world, she was keen to highlight that people have already been asking her if she’s going to keep her virtual sessions going after lockdown. People who are self-acclaimed ‘non-gym types’, who love the freedom of doing yoga in their own homes; of being able to roll out of bed and get going with a class, or likewise carry one out in their PJs just before settling down for the evening. 

“We are absolutely loving this format,” Bolt says. “We’re reaching people that wouldn’t necessarily have thought about either going to a gym or doing the kind of exercise, the sort of range that we’re offering.”

Exciting collaborations 

This new take on the yoga class has opened other doors too. Like exciting collaborations, which are made all the more easy thanks to the flexibility of the internet. Bolt talked about how she partnered up with her own personal trainer to create a range of classes, including yoga and pilates. The online sessions involve her acting as ‘the body’ and her PT acting as ‘the voice’, creating a fully comprehensive class in which attendees can get the guidance they need. 

When asked about how many people actually leave their cams on, Bolt happily confirmed that the vast majority do, which is great because it means she can offer advice on poses if needed. At the same time though, there’s something comforting about knowing that you can just pop your camera off on those not-feeling-quite-up-to-facing-the-world days. If nothing else, that’s one thing that the internet class is forever going to hold over real-life sessions. 

Bolt also talked about speaking with various musicians in her network with a vision of collaborating with them. She’d like to incorporate their music into her sessions for an ultra-relaxing and immersive experience – an idea she may never have conjured if it weren’t for being thrust into this new way of life.

Speaking about just that, Bolt says: “It’s created a whole load of new opportunity for me to reinvent stuff, so I’m really excited about it.” This sentiment feels like it taps nicely into a new, hybrid vision of yoga for the future, long after lockdown finishes. There’s clearly an appetite for virtual yoga and the benefits it brings. And, looking at what people have been saying, this is not just because it’s the only option currently available. 

A new dawn for yoga

We’ve said a few times now that it’s bizarre how it’s taken a pandemic for many of us to really realise the power and capabilities of the internet, and this is another prime example. Not only do virtual classes offer a more flexible way to take part in yoga, they help people to overcome many of the traditional barriers to exercise, like those around ‘getting ready’ and travelling to another location. This, after all, has to be one of the biggest reasons people flunk classes altogether. And because these sessions are interactive, users are still able to get that community feel from them; to feel like they’re really part of something.

It seems then, that the future of yoga may look something more like a refreshing mixture of virtual and real-life classes, which as well as benefiting attendees will allow yoga teachers to expand their reach almost limitlessly. There’s also much more scope to offer free yoga events to those who need them, as a dedicated space doesn’t need to be rented for every class.

When you consider all of this, it seems counterintuitive to think we’d ever go back to the way things were. Will yoga after lockdown be permanently changed? If it means it’s more accessible and offers a generally richer, more flexible experience to all involved, we certainly hope so.