Teaching Chair Yoga Online
I do remember the day the lockdown had come in. I was distressed about the amount of people I had seen walking across the park situated at the front of my house. It was like the busiest, sunniest bank holiday and I was distressed because I had also come to the realisation that I was in the vulnerable group.
I was relieved to hear the words “you must stay at home” come out of Boris’ lips, even with all the implications it entailed.
That same weekend I had completed a very successful online chair based yoga workshop. The workshop was meant to take place in Edinburgh on Saturday the 21st of March. I had spent the week before changing all the arrangements and preparing materials, and my space to deliver the same workshop online. Emails were flying left, right and centre, but I made it and on Saturday, exhausted, at the end of my successful course delivery I raised a glass to myself!
As I reflected on what did just happen I began to realise that online will be the new normal.
The challenges of working online
We are now 10 weeks into the lockdown and I have 4 online classes a week.
I found them very weird at start; in a room by myself all I could think of was Above and Beyond’s song “On a good day”, whose chorus says “been talking to myself forever, yeah”; no feedback from the other end.
I also found myself seeking other teachers out though, I would not normally, as they are located at the other end of the Atlantic or at the very least the other end of the country and I have truly enjoyed connecting with them; the same way I had connected with them on training courses and workshops before.
Right now I also attend 2 classes a week and enjoy them thoroughly. Right now, I know what is received feels totally awesome, even if delivering it does not.
I had never appreciated at start that the crash-course on zoom conferencing, paypal and mailchimp was a course my students would have to take also.
The approach at start was very hands-on, with little reward.
We still get the occasional person locked out of a meeting or payments not going through, but we learned that it comes with the “territory” and go with the flow.
Every now and then I still also get a message in the chat saying “you are still muted” too or “we can’t see you”, all of which (I pretend) is part of the fun.
I plan for a class that in the “live” format would have probably taken 50% longer to deliver, but on the online version I am suddenly done at 45 min, wondering why did I write “if there is time” on my class plan.
How can you keep your participants safe when you are at the other end of the screen? Even if you have the luxury of a projector or a large screen to see your students through, it is still hard to offer adjustments, so for the sake of safety you do some OR all of the following:
- Keep your class numbers low
- Keep your sequences simple
- Teach only your pre-lockdown students
- Teach for the “lowest” denominator in the group
In reality though the only thing you can do is have a pre-consult with your students and rely of the safety of your cueing, rely that your students will listen to their body and move safely through the duration of the class.
I have lost count of the amount of ceilings and knees I see, so don’t even mind if the camera is switched off now; come as you are I say, just say hello <3
Teaching Chair Yoga Online
Safety considerations have had an impact on the duration of my chair based yoga classes. Partly because I mainly have to keep my yogis seated. I am never sure if they someone will support them during the practice or lift them if they fall.
Here is what you can do to increase the duration of a chair based yoga class:
1. Longer pranayama practices – people actually need this these days, as this lockdown is really messing with people’s head. For some (like me) who are shielded, there is little light out of the tunnel until a vaccine or treatment is found.
2. Chanting: introduce a little bit of chanting in the classes.
Start with AUM, break it down to:
aaaaaaaa (arms and legs out wide) – oooooooo arms overhead (or forward making an O shape with fingers – mmmmmmm hands on clavicle/throat to feel the vibration
Then move to a bit of Hari om with movement, tap and clap and so on.
3. Brain Teasers: Get ideas from the British Gymnastics LOVE TO MOVE program for lots of hand to eye practices and “brain-teasers” that can bring focus and stimulate the brain (my brain too…)
4. Repetition: Keep repeating a sequence by adding one move everytime (add one). they have to remember as well as they get to practice the moves and feel more accomplished with every round.
Repetition also applies to whole sequences – repetition is good, when you find something that works keep doing it and only adjust your sequences a little bit for the following week.
5. Wrist and hand mobility exercises are ESSENTIAL when teaching chair yoga – if you are not doing them already look at pawanmuktasana series and adapt to a chair based practice. Again look at british gymnastics love-to-move and get ideas on even more finger and hand mobility.
6. Longer meditation: Do not be afraid to invite them to the floor or their bed (they are in their homes) and do a full yoga NIdra.
This is exactly how I equip my students on my Chair Based Yoga course on teachable – a LARGE library of classes, videos and ideas is taught on the course to enable you to teach chair yoga effortlessly not just to the elderly but even other specific populations.