Tagonline yoga

Coronavirus: how to claim financial support and other tips

Coronavirus: how to claim financial support and other tips

With the world as we know it on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, it leaves plenty of unanswered questions in the average yoga teacher’s mind.

When will everything return to normal? When will I be able to teach regular classes again? And how will I survive financially without my yoga teaching income?

At the moment no one knows the answer to the first two questions, but the last one can be answered to some degree. Due to the huge loss of income suffered by people across the country the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised to give self-employed people a financial lifeline through a government grant.

Yay! And – phew!

However, if, like me, you find HMRC-speak intimidating and hard to understand, then read on for a plain-speaking, practical guide for how you can get some money back during this scary and difficult time.*

Am I eligible?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. And there are a few parameters:

1. You need to be registered as a sole trader or have your business registered with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to give it the full title) to qualify. So, if you’ve only just qualified as a yoga teacher, or haven’t been paying any taxes because you’ve been earning way under the threshold and haven’t got around to registering yet, then, unfortunately, you won’t be able to claim anything for loss of earnings.

2. You need to have submitted your Self-Assessment tax return for the last tax year, which is April 2018 – April 2019. Although kindly, HMRC is giving a deadline extension and is saying you’ve got till the 23 April 2020 to do it.

3. You need to be currently teaching yoga. So, you’re not eligible if you’re recently retired, or have decided to stop teaching.

4. You need to have lost potential profits because of coronavirus. So, if like many enterprising yoga teachers you’ve made the leap into online yoga then you need to consider whether you have actually made a loss. However, even if there’s only a small loss in income, you’ll still be eligible to make a claim.

5. You won’t qualify if your income is a mixture of part-time income and self-employment, so if you’re a yoga teacher on the side, but you’re employed elsewhere, then you won’t be eligible to apply

6. You won’t qualify if anyone in your household earns more than £50,000. If, on the other hand, your other half earns £49,000, you will both qualify for support – that’s the craziness of cut-off points!

What will I get?

If HMRC reckons you’re eligible you will get up to 80% of your average earnings, capped at £2,500 per month.

This will be paid as a taxable grant, so in layman’s terms you’ll get one lump sum, which will then be tax-deductible, ie you’ll need to declare it in your next tax return.

The lump sum will be worked out by taking an average of your income from the last three years, so you’ll need to have submitted three years’ worth of tax returns. However, if you haven’t submitted three tax returns, don’t worry as they will calculate the grant based on a period of continuous self-employment within the years you have submitted tax returns for.

And – although this hasn’t been confirmed yet – the amount will be to cover at least three months (and may be extended at a later date, though this is still to be confirmed by the government). However, as mentioned above, the maximum payment will be £2,500 per month. I bet we all wished we earned that much working as yoga teachers!

How do I get it?

The simple answer to that is that you can’t – yet.

The government aims to contact anyone eligible for the scheme by mid-May, with the aim of paying you in one go in June. You will be invited to claim using an online form on the gov.uk website. If you don’t have online access then alternative ways to claim will be made available.

What do I do in the meantime?

If you haven’t yet tried online yoga teaching, then you might want to give it a go. Even if you just teach one class a week it’s a way of keeping your hand in, as well as keeping your students from drifting off to other online offerings.

Alternatively, do you have any other skills that you could call on? Diversification is a keyword in this pandemic – it might be time to consider taking other work, again just to keep things ticking over.

If you have tried and it’s not for you, then you might be able to apply for a deferral of your income tax or VAT payment.

If you own your home, your bank should offer a mortgage holiday; here’s Money Service Advice’s guide on these. If you rent and you’re struggling, you should approach your landlord or landlady to discuss a temporary discount or rent holiday as soon as possible – it’s worth noting you should be protected from eviction for the next 3 months, as reported by the BBC.

If things get bad, don’t forget that you are also eligible to apply for Universal Credit in full, which, if you’re urgently running short of funds and are the main bread-winner, may be the best shot to tide you over till things get back to normal.

 

*Just to be clear, this is not legal advice, just a handy guide to make sense of the government’s financial bail-out.

 


Remember that even though the studios are closed, our school remains open. If you’re a current trainee or YogaLondon graduate, you can continue to work towards your 500-hour certificate and develop new skills by studying online: 

Online Anatomy Module Intensive: starts 25th April – 45 hours of training over 8 days

Online Philosophy Module: starts 23rd May – 45 hours of training over 3 weekends

Poppy Pickles

The Cheeky Yogi Zooms Online

The Cheeky Yogi Zooms Online

Whoever pressed the pause button on the world, could you please press play again?

My first question, as a self-employed yoga teacher when Covid 19 hit the headlines, was: how can earn a living if we are in lock-down?

Answer: do it online.

I am a genius. No one else will think of this.

(more…)

10 Top Tips to moving your Yoga classes ONLINE

10 Top Tips to moving your Yoga classes ONLINE

The global COVID-19 crisis we’re experiencing has changed everyone’s lives overnight. Just a few weeks into being told to stay at home, the impacts are being felt on a personal, national and global scale.

But how is this affecting the yoga industry?

Just like every other service, yoga teaching has had to stop in real life. We are no longer allowed to gather together and teach or learn yoga all together in one room. The only people we can practice with are those that we live with – and they might not be so keen on doing yoga!

 

But what about all our students?

Like many yoga teachers in this country, I felt I had to cancel all my classes after Boris Johnson made the announcement that any unnecessary socialising should be avoided. I felt that from that point I was duty-bound to protect my students and myself from further social contact.

I spent that first week frantically researching how I could transfer my classes online. Since then I have moved all my classes online, and most of my students have made the transfer with me. This process hasn’t been easy and I could have done with a Top Ten Tips to move your yoga classes online – which I why I’m doing this for YOU!

 

1. Attend some online classes

The age-old adage ‘try before you buy’ applies here in spades. Before embarking on a completely new way of teaching, make sure you attend at least one online class, preferably in the same style as you will be teaching. Take notes afterwards to remember what you liked or didn’t like about the experience.

 

2. Choose your platform

If you’re not that ‘techy’, this is where it can start to get intimidating. But don’t worry, there are a whole host of ways to teach yoga online, most of which are pretty user-friendly. Here’s a sample of the most popular apps and platforms out there:

  • Zoom – the most popular due to high-quality audio-visual and connectivity. The free service allows 40 minutes per meeting and up to 100 participants.
  • Microsoft Teams – to access this meeting app, you need an Office 365 account.
  • Google Hangouts – many yoga studios have used Hangouts for a while.
  • House party – Possibly better for group games, and there have been hacking issues, but also a good live interface.
  • Whereby.com – offers ‘meeting rooms’ rather than minutes allowed per meeting or numbers of users.
  • Facebook Live streaming – this would be good for sharing previously recorded classes with your Facebook followers.
  • YouTube videos – another way to share recorded lessons with your students, but wouldn’t be an interactive experience.

 

3. Tech comes first

Once you’ve chosen your platform and whether you want to pay for it or not, then you’ll need to work out what device to use. The platform you go for may be dependent on what devices you have available. I attended a class where the yoga teacher has done online classes regularly before, he had a huge up-to-the-minute computer, a light, bright studio space, and lighting set up.

It’s easy to feel intimidated by all the technology and think that it’s not for you. But I also attended a class with a teacher who’d balanced her laptop on the mantelpiece and had no fancy lighting or sound. I got equal gratification from both classes.

If you only have your iPhone and a small space then maybe Zoom classes aren’t for you. But you can record and edit classes on your iPhone and send them out to all your students using a YouTube video.

 

4. Test and test again

You can’t test too much. The issue here being that time is of the essence especially if yoga is your only income stream. The week before I went ‘live’ with my classes I did three tests with some very kind ‘guinea-pigs’. Each time I learnt something new, e.g. the wifi wasn’t good enough in one room, the phone was too small for me to see the other person and that I needed to check the light before teaching.

 

5. Choose your times

You might just want to transfer all your live lessons into online lesson slots, sticking to the same time and group of students. This works for them as they feel they still have the same routine, as well as get to see the same faces. Or, if you were teaching for a studio, you could have a daily slot at 8 am every weekday so that it’s simple, and any of your students can join any (or all) of the lessons on offer. Think about what works for you, ask your students, then be clear and decisive.

 

6. Decide on a payscale

For some teachers, the income is a secondary one, and the money isn’t important. For others, it’s their main source of income and at the moment, every little helps! Don’t be afraid to ask for payment. You will have outgoings if you decide to go for a paid-for platform, as well as the time and energy that you will spend on the administration side of moving everything online  – as well as getting to grips with the new way of teaching. Many students are grateful that you are putting all this effort into still being able to teach them and want to pay for it.

However, it’s important to be mindful that this is also a huge financial crisis. People’s jobs may well be at risk, or they may be facing worrying bills. You could ask for pay-what-you-can donations, or let your students know that they should get in touch if money is an issue. You could also offer the first online lesson for free so that they can be sure they enjoy the experience before committing to paying for it.

 

7. Prep your students

Email all your students well in advance to let them know the changes. Be very clear about what they have to do. It’s all new for them too, and the more detail you can give, the easier it will be for them.

For the first class ask your students to come online 15 minutes before the class starts. That way you can interact with them before muting them (if using Zoom), and give them some feedback on whether you can see them or not before the class starts.

 

8. Get organised

Once you’ve decided on where you’re going to teach from, set up your ‘studio’ so it has everything in it that you will need for your class. Make sure it looks neat and clutter-free so your students won’t be distracted by looking at all your messy belongings. Give yourself plenty of time before the class starts so that you can be in position when they start to come online – and not frantically clearing furniture!

 

9. Be flexible and improvise

As yoga teachers it’s in our nature to be flexible – both physically and mentally. And we must be the same in our online teaching too. It might be that a class you’d planned isn’t working as the students are too tired, or don’t have the right equipment. Read the students and respond to them. In this strange and lonely time, a yoga class is all the more important, so make sure you put their needs first.

 

10. Ask for feedback

Once you’ve taught your first online lesson or sent your first recorded yoga lesson, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. We’re all new to this! And even if they all say how much they loved it, well, that’s also really nice to hear. More likely you’ll find that some students struggled with the tech, couldn’t see your legs because of the light,  couldn’t hear you at one point because someone had forgotten to mute their mic and their kid came in – and so on. But then you know for next time!

 

And finally…

…Remember that what you deliver doesn’t have to perfect. We’re all doing our best in what is an unprecedented event in all our lives. And if we can keep sending yoga out into the world, then that HAS to be a good thing.

 


You might also be interested in the Cheeky Yogi’s experience of taking her classes online

Poppy Pickles
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