Right now connection means looking at each other through our screens, trying to achieve that feeling of community that brings us into the yoga studio week after week for class.
Just because we can’t be in the studio doesn’t mean we have to feel alone. You can create a great experience for your yoga students teaching via Zoom.
In this post, you will learn tips and tricks to host a perfect yoga class on Zoom. If you need a step-by-step to set up your Zoom account, check out this blog post first, and then come back here to add all your bells and whistles!
#1. How to Capture High-Quality Video For Zoom
Your students will be watching you for visual cues, so you want to be sure they have a clear, crisp video of you.
Smartphones are a good entry level option for recording or live streaming your online classes. Just invest in a little tripod that can keep the phone upright. The GorillaPod starter tripod retails at around £25.
You can certainly just start with your phone and a tripod. but there are some higher-tech tools to enhance the experience.
The SmovePro smartphone stabiliser prevents wobble and has a tracking device so it can follow your movements and keep them in shot. This costs around £200, so it’s perhaps something to consider for the future if you don’t want to go all-in on equipment just to get started.
Finally, you can use the built-in camera on your laptop or your desktop computer, with no additional purchase necessary! However, to make the learning experience the best it can be for your students, consider investing in a quality webcam that will offer a better picture. The Logitech Webcam is an affordable option that offers the kind of clarity and detail your students will appreciate.
#2 How to Deliver Clear Sound While Teaching on Zoom
In a digital class, your students will rely on your voice more than ever, so it’s important to have great sound.
Before you look into any technology, first you need a quiet space.
Even if you are in close quarters with other members of your household, you can use pillows and blankets around the bottom of the doors and windows to block out background sound. While you cannot control the environment your students will be in on the other side of the lens, you can create a tranquil sanctuary on your end of the call.
Once you have sound-proofed your home studio, you don’t need to spend much to get good sound quality. A decent microphone runs between $50-100.
However, you don’t even need to purchase that right away. You can get started using the built-in mic on your phone or computer. Because this microphone doesn’t move with you, you’ll want to test it before you teach, especially if you’re moving around the room or through different positions. You can do this by recording yourself as you walk around and go through some poses, and then listen to see if there are any spots in the room where the sound is muffled or unclear.
If you plan to demonstrate the asana practice for your students as you teach yoga, then a wearable microphone will capture the highest-quality sound as you move with them.
A wireless microphone, like the Samson Microphone, comes with a built in speaker which stays close to your mouth.
Another simple option is using earbuds with a built-in Bluetooth microphone, like Airpods.
Airpods are wireless earphones that connect to your phone via Bluetooth. They have a microphone and they let you hear the sound from your device in your ear as you are teaching. Airpods are a good option if you are teaching outdoors or need to be further away from your device. They work with any Bluetooth device (although with Android phones you may not have all the features available to users with iPhones).
#3 How to Stream Music on Zoom
Many teachers report that transmitting music over Zoom results in a tinny sound.
You also must be aware that you cannot stream music that you do not have the rights to use. You can search online for royalty free music if you want to avoid paying royalty fees, or sign up with a service that grants you an annual license to stream music during class.
Generally, though, teachers are not playing music on their end of the call and have to find some creative solutions to give students that studio experience of the perfect playlist to accompany their practice.
One workaround is to send students a link to a Spotify or YouTube playlist that they can play on their own speakers. You can email it before class, upload it to a website where everyone knows to find it, or link it in the chat. Unfortunately, unless students are paying for premium memberships to these services, they may find their playlists interrupted by ads.
Another option is to stream music directly from your computer through Zoom so your students are hearing the music as if they were playing it on their own speakers.
To stream your music live on Zoom, start your class/meeting. Then follow this sequence. Click Share Screen > Advanced Options > Music or Computer Sound Only > Share.
#4 Settings for Your Zoom Yoga Class
It’s a good idea to log on to Zoom a few minutes early and check for any software updates. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of a download right before class is scheduled to begin!
You can open the meeting early so that students can filter in and you have a chance to connect with them before class. This gives you an opportunity to double check that your audio and video are working.
To begin class, make sure that your screen is on Speaker View and that all other participants are muted. You can mute everyone in the room at once by clicking Participants > Mute All.
This will ensure your voice is clear and that any sounds from attendees’ homes do not disturb the class. It will also minimize distractions when students join late, allowing your students to stay mindful and present to their own practice.
If you want to block latecomers from joining after a certain cutoff-point, click Participants > More > Lock Meeting. This will prevent anyone else from joining the class once you enable it. Use this option at your discretion and according to the needs of your class.
You can also choose to keep your video as the primary active speaker for everyone in the class by selecting the up-arrow next to the video icon and clicking Video Settings > Spotlight My Video. If you choose this option then your instructional video remains at the forefront of the meeting, even if others are speaking or accidentally making distracting sounds (which would normally pull the focus to them unless they are muted).
This setting enhances focus during the live class, and makes for a much higher-quality recording should you choose to share this video in the future with students who weren’t in class. Zoom will record whatever your screen shows, so you don’t want the focus jumping away from you every time someone makes a noise.
As the teacher, you can see up to 49 participants in Video Settings > Gallery View. Depending on your goals for the class, you might want to keep the video on yourself, or you might want to see your students. Seeing the students can help you feel more like you’re in the studio, and will help you connect to them to offer a more personalized experience.
#5 Manage Expectations and Allay Fears
When you begin class, offer a short explanation for any students new to Zoom about what they can expect from the class. This will help anyone with technical questions, or other worries if you have students who have never done an online yoga class before.
You might want reassure them that only you will be able to see them, that they can wear anything they want, that they don’t need fancy props, that they can go to the loo if they need to, or whatever else seems important.
Tell them you are new to all of this too so it will be a learning curve for you both. Your students will appreciate the human and personal touch.
If you prefer, you can create a short recording of this introductory explanation and send it out to students along with the class link. You can ask new students to watch the video before class and let you know any questions they might have about the technology or anything else ahead of time.
This would be a great time to ask them to share any injuries or pregnancy so you know to include relevant modifications (and for insurance purposes).
#6 Teaching a Studio-Quality Yoga Class on Zoom
While teaching on Zoom is a wonderful option when we can’t be in the studio together, there are naturally some major differences that you’ll have to adjust to so that your students get the best experience.
Remember everyone is out of their normal routines at the moment and it’s already a lot for them to be adjusting to the online format while learning the new technology. If you can, include familiar routines such as a signature warmup or seated mediation to help regular students feel at home.
Over time you will find your creativity online and can offer classes and programs that highlight your unique strengths while serving the needs of your students. But to begin, just stick to the basics and build from there. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while starting to teach online:
Watch Your Pace
Rushing becomes very obvious on video. Slow your pace down to create a sense of calm. You want your students to feel they can take their time without worrying they will miss something. Give them the gift of some additional pause to deeply embody their practices.
Be aware that it is common for Zoom to have a slight delay to real time. This is another reason to go slower, and give your students time to receive your cues before moving on to the next pose.
Due to the nature of the delivery system, online classes can feel disjointed, or choppy.
While creative sequencing can be fun and engaging in the studio, during this time, you might want to keep transitions simple and limit how many you include in a sequence. This is especially important if you’re teaching beginners as you’re not there to adjust them.
Repetition is another way to guide your students into an embodied flow state during their online yoga class. You can establish a familiar “home base” sequence for your students to return to throughout the class, with variations to increase the challenge as their bodies warm up. This will help them feel confident with their practice and stay embodied with their movements rather than constantly checking the screen to see if they’re getting the new moves correct.
Of course, you want to offer a challenging and unique class. Just keep in mind that perhaps this isn’t the right time to throw in entirely new poses or complex sequencing curveballs. There’s nothing wrong with returning to the foundational poses and perfecting them, rather than tackling something new from a distance.
Use Your Voice as a Tool
Since you may not have music playing during your class, be aware of the power of your voice to create presence and focus for your students.
You might find it helpful to use more of a melodic, sing-song voice than you would normally. This will help create a soothing atmosphere and can be used to encourage movement and flow.
Your voice is always a powerful tool, and during online classes it will function as an even more important guide for your students since the visuals on their screen are not nearly as engaging as real bodies in a studio would be.
Offer Personal Adjustments
Before class starts, ask everyone to turn their cameras on so that you can offer adjustments. It’s possible that some students will prefer to keep their cameras off, which is perfectly fine. Give them the option to choose what is comfortable for them.
When students are holding postures, switch your view from Speaker View to Gallery View so can observe and offer personalized cues.
In restorative yoga or hatha yoga, for example, you might take the time to guide their attention or breath. With more technical yoga styles, like Iyengar yoga or Ashtanga yoga, it’s important to check on their alignment.
Keep in mind that if you are recording your class, the students watching the recording will see whatever is on your screen. If you plan to send the recording to students who weren’t in class, you probably want to remain on Speaker View for the duration of the class.
Otherwise, you can check in on your students just as you would in a studio class, offering encouragement, adjustments, and praise.
#7 Hold Space After Class
Once class is over, plan to stay online for a few minutes to engage with your students and receive their experiences.
Not only will this more closely mimic the studio where students can chat with each other and feel the benefits of community, it is a perfect opportunity to get feedback while their experiences are fresh so you can make any needed improvements before the next class.
You can chat with students in the chat function, or turn the audio back on for everyone and open the meeting for anyone to share reflections or ideas.
This is a great time to share your schedule and invite them to any upcoming classes or other events.
#8 Record to Create Reusable Digital Assets
While teaching online might be more convenient for students in some ways, they won’t always be able to make it to the class times you offer. Fortunately, you can record your classes and send the links out to anyone who signs up but cannot attend live! You can also offer the recorded link as a value-add to the students who were there live with you.
To record your meetings and online yoga classes, go to Meeting Settings, and click the Recording tab. Navigate to the Local Recording option and move the toggle so that the setting is On. If you always want Zoom to record your meetings when they start, there is an option below the Local Recording section to enable this.
You can also simply click Record at the bottom of your window once the class has started.
As you teach online, you can create a digital library of offerings for students to purchase and view any time in the future. You might even get inspired to create offerings that were never live classes, but are meant to be watched asynchronously. Evergreen content like this can be a lucrative way to make money on auto-pilot.
#9 How to Take Payments When Teaching on Zoom
There are a number of options to get paid for your online yoga classes. This is another area where you can keep it simple. Even if you don’t have any fancy integrations set up right off the bat, remember your students are new to this too, and they will be happy to be on the learning curve with you if it means they get to take your class!
If you already have a booking system such as MindBody or Teamup, simply have students sign up and pay for classes as always and perhaps amend the amount due for each class. Once you have a list of those booked you can email invites via Zoom.
If you’re taking payment this way, it’s a good idea to have a cutoff time for payment so that you have time to email all the links out before class begins. I recommend letting students know that signups will close an hour before the class begins. This way you can manage all the administrative tasks of link sharing and audio/video tests and still have plenty of time to ground and center before class.
Venmo and Paypal
If you don’t have access to a tool like Mindbody, you can use Venmo or Paypal for class payments and for donations if you are streaming on IGTV or Facebook live. Simply create your accounts, share your username with your students, and let them know the cost of class.
If you are using Paypal, ask your students to send payments with the “Friends and Family” option so that you don’t get hit with commission fees.
Once students have paid, you will send the class link via Zoom. Keep in mind that some people have Venmo or PayPal handles that might not indicate who they are! Ask students to include their name and the class they are registering for in the note that accompanies these payments.
You can create a paywall on a Facebook Group that will require students to pay before they can access the group. If you like, you can use this payment option and then use Zoom to livestream directly to Facebook when you teach.
You can offer your students a package of classes and have them pay you upfront via a bank transfer. While this may seem clunky, many banks have quick-transfer apps that allow easy movement of money between accounts. You will be responsible for debiting classes from their package each time they take a class.
There is an option in Mindbody to create payment via donation with a minimum donation and a number of tiers. If you aren’t sure what to charge your students, particularly while you’re working out the kinks during your first few online classes, this is a good option to give them control over what they pay.
Donation based classes can also work on any of the above systems too. You can communicate a minimum donation, or let people know that no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
There are platforms that will integrate with each other to automatically keep track of who has paid for class. While this may not seem necessary when you’re just starting out, if you continue to teach yoga online and build your following, this will save you a lot of administrative legwork over time.
You can check out Acuity, a scheduling software that integrates with Zoom and allows you to take payment via PayPal, Stripe or Square. You can also set up Acuity and Calendly to allow your students to book classes with you according to a schedule that you create and maintain. It will take more work upfront to configure the integrations, but it may be worth it depending on your goals.
#10 Bonus Tip: Look Your Best (No Effort Required!)
This is a vanity tip, and I am aware that it’s not for everyone.
However, if you want a quick and easy way to enhance your appearance while you teach (and who doesn’t want to look fresh and well-rested, even if we didn’t sleep enough last night?) there is a built-in filter on Zoom to do just that.
There are two ways to access the filter. First, you can go through Settings > Video > Touch up my appearance. The other way is to click the arrow next to the video icon once you’re already in a meeting and select Video Settings > Touch up my appearance.
Zoom will remember your preferences, so this filter will be on for all future meetings unless you manually disable it.
This feature isn’t going to be as dramatic as an Instagram filter or any Photoshop magic, but it might be worth checking out if you want to brighten yourself up for the camera!
There’s a lot to learn when you’re taking your yoga classes online. You don’t need to master everything on the first try.
Start with the basics and build from there. Ask your students for feedback, and integrate the most useful suggestions into your future classes. Don’t worry about spending a fortune on equipment or software until you feel ready to take your digital offerings to the next level.
Remember to have fun with it, and keep a beginner’s mindset. If you are open to the process of learning something new, with all the technical glitches and mishaps that might come along with that process, you will quickly find yourself comfortable using Zoom to connect with your yoga students. You may even surprise yourself with what you create once you understand the power of online classes!
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