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.
Before March, I had never heard of the video communications company ‘Zoom’ – let alone paired it with Yoga. Yoga via Zoom. Rather than it being a cheese and pickle combination, it feels more like cheese and feet – you can see the connection, but you’re not sure you want to go there. But needs must…
The first step in offering my yoga classes via Zoom is finding space in my house to create the illusion of an appealing yoga studio. Practising in the cranny between the foot of the bed and the radiator, with my arms hiking up the curtains every time I move, isn’t going to cut it. My creative juices flow, as I contemplate various visually interesting options. I experiment with my most ingenious idea…
I set up the laptop in the front garden, and film through the open windows. The result is somewhat unexpected to my untrained cinematic eye. I captured what looks like a dismembered upper torso floating above the external house wall, whilst the sound is a mixture of bird song and passers-by warning that someone might be tempted to thieve my laptop.
Maybe I’m not crazily stock-piling toilet paper, but the pandemic has shaken me up. I realise that I’m not thinking straight.
Martin Scorsese ain’t a patch on me
Eventually, the obvious solution comes to mind and I rearrange the furniture in the front room. Stacked on my 2-seater sofa is the 3-seater sofa, (at the time it was the logical way around) balanced on top is the coffee table, on which teeters the cat box and finally rests, somewhat precariously, my laptop. After 4 hours of experimentation, this is the best camera angle I can achieve.
“A birds-eye nor worms-eye view just won’t work, I need the right angle to capture me in all planes. It’s all about ‘the shot’, you see.”
My other half is unimpressed by my newly acquired lingo, and he’s also no longer able to sit in the living room, or leave via the blockaded front door. But where else could I put the furniture?
Now I have ‘the shot’, I need to ‘dress the set’. I begin to raid the house in search of an interesting painting, only to discover that we only own 3 grown-up paintings. We never got around to ‘investing in art for a rainy day’. Our Ikea print of the severed horse’s head from the Godfather movie possibly isn’t quite the right look for my tranquil yoga studio, but it does cover the holes in the wall, and detracts nicely from the scratched skirting boards.
Getting bums on mats
After creating my yoga oasis and working out the technical aspects, which include a torch, a standing lamp and fairy lights, the next step is marketing.
Over the years, I have collected student email addresses, but never really used them as I felt had little to say. Finally, I have big news.
“THE CHEEKY YOGI LIVE – giving you the time of your life in the comfort of your own home”.
When I don’t get a single reply, I discover a feature in the newsletter software where you can see whether people are actually reading your emails, or watching Netflix instead. This analytical report gives me statistics on who failed to read my magical news and, much to my horror, who has unsubscribed. How can this be? I didn’t bombard you with emails in the past, now when I do contact you with something to say – you leave me! I need a plan B.
After eons of scrolling and watching yogis perform sequences at breakneck speed, followed by inspirational quote telling me to ‘slow down and turn off the computer’, I generally feel exhausted by social media and, as a result, somewhat ignore it. But now I feel it could rescue me and my new venture.
2 newsletters, 4 Facebook posts, 1 Facebook event, 3 Instagram posts and a telephone call to my mum later… I have the grand total of 1 booking. ONE.
I end up messaging my friends, begging for help in my hour of need.
OMG. I have taught hundreds of classes. Why am I so nervous? The stage is set with a mat, block, strap, fairy lights and diffuser. (It’s only a while later that I realise the diffuser is pointless for my audience). 9 friends and 1 real client turn up.
Opening the class, I ask people to close their eyes, go within and listen. Spontaneous, inspirational words pour out from deep within me. I have tapped into an inner wisdom and eloquence never unleashed before, as I speak the most uplifting and moving words possible. I’m beaming. This is what Yoga is. This is why we are here, together in this moment.
I open my eyes. Everyone is waving at me. Eyes glistening from the emotion of my words, I wave back. ‘Isn’t it great’, I continue, ‘to be speaking from the UK, and be heard from Rome to Vermont’, acknowledging two of my friends’ home countries. But they don’t stop waving. Confused, I climb up my little furniture mount to reach the laptop. Realisation smacks me in the face. I was muted the entire time. Those words of wisdom that came from the ether are to remain in there forever.
Feeling a little off balance, I continue with the class, pushing down my niggling feelings. Like a slow wave of heat rising from inside my body, paranoia sweeps over me. What if the people who have turned their camera off can’t understand my instructions? I make my cues even more specific and detailed. Enunciating my ‘wordddz mmmmmore thannn evvvvver,’
The more I talk, the more I feel the need to explain the explanation. As the class continues, it becomes more like a military operation defusing a bomb, than an easy-going yoga class amongst friends.
‘Lighten up’ my brain screams at me. “Don’t lift the right butt cheek as though you’re sneakily passing wind. I can see you”. No one laughs at my joke. “Mind you, you are in the comfort of your own home – so fart away”. Silence. “Go crazy, let it out. Frrrrrt”. Tumble weed.
The end is nigh
Eventually the class comes to an end. I’m crestfallen. I will never earn a living online. The class was a dictatorial, uninspiring, technically dubious failure with fart jokes. I shall just crawl under a stone and stay there for the whole isolation period.
I thank everyone and press unmute for all participants. Suddenly there is a cacophony of sound through my speakers…
“That was great”
“You made me laugh out loud!”
“It was so clear, I didn’t need to look up”
“Can you put me on your mailing list?”
Glancing at the screen, I see each participant in their own world. Some are laying on the bed, some are cramped on the floor in the spare room, but smiling faces and gratitude are predominant. This rare glimpse of a snippet of life amongst the clutter of the mundane. Different worlds united in sharing a moment, creating a community.
Whoever pressed the pause button on the world, thank you.
You might also be interested in our top 10 tips to moving your yoga classes online