How A Small Yoga School in France Survived the Pandemic

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The last few years marked by the pandemic of COVID-19 have changed the way we move in our lives, in all areas of our lives, including the way we stay healthy and fit. This was very clearly shown in the 2022 Worldwide Fitness Trends Study by the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal. Home exercise gyms and online live and on-demand classes debuted within the top ten worldwide fitness trend for 2022. Home exercise gyms came in at number 2 while online live and on-demand came in at number 9.

Yoga is part of those numerable fitness classes thata found its way online. Whereas we may have used to think fitness classes and yoga classes had to be something done in-person, the changes the pandemic has enforced on us has also changed the way we think about how we do yoga classes and fitness classes. 

I spoke to Sunshine Ross, founder of Awake Space, Formation Prof Yoga, about her experience running a yoga school during the pandemic. Yoga especially yoga schools have had a long tradition of passing teachings in person, rooted in ancient Indian tradition descended from guru-disciple dynamic. The pandemic has now changed all of this.

“It’s bizarre. I was in shock at first. I had no idea what to do and what would happen next. We moved some yoga teacher trainings online. Some of the students there were on a time constraint.  They only had those dates to train and preferred to train online rather than cancel. Some students cancelled beceause they really felt training needed to be face to face. We did lose a lot of business but we kept going.”

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I asked her how she found business has changed as countries ease up lockdown regulations. “When quarantine was relaxed, we saw a surge of local French clients signing up for classes. Obviously, travel abroad was restricted so they had to go local. In previous years, we would have students from elsewhere in Europe even America but now the students are mostly local. For some studio owners i know, they weren’t as lucky. Social distancing rules meant they had to accept smaller groups in classes which would not cover their rental in places like Paris and other big cities. We have more space running our yoga retreats in the countryside” 

I asked her what she thought of yoga classes being held online by video conference “Ofcourse it has its disadvantages. You can’t manually adjust a student and you can’t observe the student from all angles especially when they don’t have enough space where they practice or good technology. But more and more people are not just accepting video conference classes as second option, some see it as a preferred option – you can do it in the comfort of your own home, you don’t need to deal with traffic and commute and it can be cheaper too. We have some students who graduated from our teacher training course whose first experience teaching was online. Some of them are still teaching online as they have established a good base of students for it.” 

Online classes are here to stay. What is the future of yoga classes? We will see.

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