Online Yoga from Streaming to Zoom

Many of you have asked for some kind of streaming program that’s more on-demand.  The obvious go-tos for that are FB/ Instagram Live and YouTube.  However, we are seeing the powerful and somewhat dual-edged role these platforms have in our society as of late.  For every legit post, one has to wade through a cesspool of ads and dodgy sources. 

The medium is the message

I am reminded of the Marshall McCluhan quote on the tip of every communication major’s tongue, “The medium is the message.”  As I try to hold our little community together, I am navigating all sorts of communication platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Zoom.  While they bring us together, they also insinuate their way into our relationship.   In a way, maybe it’s no different than the N.O. Homeowner’s Association or the management in a health club.  They’re all just layers between teachers and their students.  The problem with the layers though is they just don’t care as much as we do!    

I opted a long time ago for a studio model with minimal layers. For instance, I knew I certainly didn’t want a landlord in the middle of you and me–that was an easy one! Big health clubs with corporate politics? No thanks!   But what about now?  FB, Instagram, Zoom–they’re layers too. Even this Mailchimp newsletter is a layer.  Do they care? Many are “free” but of course, that just means we’re the product.

The more visually attractive my posts are, the more “likes” the better the “product.”  Of course, “likes” and students aren’t the same thing.  “Likes” and quality of teaching aren’t the same thing.  Basically, my success on those platforms hinges on how much time, energy, top-notch photography and gymnastical poses I can muster– in other words, almost nothing to do with you and your experience. 

Ever notice how all of these yoga influencers almost NEVER put up photos of their students? Do they even have any? Or do they just force loved ones to take photos of them in different outfits every day?  The medium is the message: a superficial image-based medium elevates those who love to have their pictures taken showing off. 

Still Zooming along

On to Zoom.  Thanks so much to those of you hanging in there month after month.  I know you’re all getting some Zoom fatigue.  I try to make constant continuous improvements.  In this case,  the end product is also influenced by the medium that delivers it to you:  there’s less interaction between you and me and almost no interaction between students during class.  It’s difficult to ask questions so instructions and sequences have to be simplified.  Finally, it’s hard for me to monitor feedback in real-time, and therefore harder for me to change course when things aren’t landing well. 

The mall and the conference center

So, if FB and Instagram are like going shopping at The Mall with all the different storefronts trying to entice you in with perfectly proportioned mannequins and special offers, then I suppose Zoom is a conference room in an office park. It’s a little “sanitized” and we have to fiddle around with our computers like we’re setting up for a board presentation. Finally, even if you take my advice and try not to look directly at the screen all the time, it’s a moth to the flame situation: if there’s a screen on, you’ll likely stare out of habit.  Closing your eyes may lead to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) or more likely FOMI (Fear or Missing Instructions). 

Once you get over the initial hassles though, Zoom is probably the best option for us going forward until we can be outdoors on a regular basis.  Yes, I am aware that I could record classes and distribute them later, however, I am of the belief, “What happens in yoga stays in yoga.”  Each person would have to give me their permission and I could see why a lot of people wouldn’t want to do that. Also, a major part of a yoga practice is the impermanence–no two classes should ever be the same. I’m not sure one is meant to go through the same class over and over again like an old fitness tape. Finally, knowing we’re being recorded might be somewhat intimidating and cut down on the bit of banter we do enjoy. 

What about livestreaming? 

Some have asked for “livestreaming” on FB or Instagram Live, but here’s the thing: if I put my classes up on those sites, then I am producing content for THEM and who knows who else?  I have no “gatekeeper” function to prevent anyone from swiping my original material. Also, asking you to go to FB or Instagram is a little bit like opening a studio in a sketchy part of town.  Who knows what could befall you on the way to class? You might be all set in your yoga togs, then you see your crazy in-law’s political post when you login and you’re brain starts imploding! Next thing you know, you’ve been drawn into a FB battle royale when you should be in Savasana! 

Thus it occurs to me: maybe we should start to look at our “virtual venues” with the same standards as we do our actual venues. What if we were just as discerning?  

No social media strip malls

I really do want to create some on-demand yoga programming options for you, especially those for whom Zoom isn’t working. I am just not inspired to produce videos for FB, Instagram, or as a friend suggested, YouTube–ugh! Those are “neighborhoods” I’d rather avoid.

That said, the negative space of February has yielded a blizzard of new ideas. I have had time to reflect:  what is the “right” medium for YogaHotDish Yoga classes?  What’s the online equivalent of “venues with views,” and  “no mirrors, no music, just yoga”?  Is there something other than a social media “strip mall” out there? 

On-demand coming soon

I have an idea…a pretty good one, I think. However, it’s baking in the oven and not quite a golden brown.  I’ll let you know though when it’s ready to serve. It’s in a really nice part of town, with some creative neighbors…