Was 2020 the year of Online Yoga?
We were talking about the exploding popularity of online Yoga with Viktoria Molnar, who is a prenatal, mom&baby yoga, and a yoga for spine instructor. She is a founding member of the Sisterhood Yoga Project, a mother, and our MOMRISE ambassador.
As a Yoga teacher and young mom, how were you affected by the covid-19 situation and quarantine? Can we assign your online yoga classes and their rising popularity to the quarantine?
The quarantine was at first a huge hurdle, I had to cancel all live classes, and initially didn’t know what to do as we had no similar precedent in the past. When I came back from the initial shock, I started putting together a small sequence of brief exercises on the Yoga with Baby site. My intention was to help with these short videos pregnant and new moms who were like me stranded at home, and who wanted their yoga and mobility despite the lockdown. I was building these classes from easy exercises particularly suited for doing yoga with a baby. Slowly I started to build other, more substantial programs as well, which gained rising interest, but at the end it all slowed down because the quarantine came to a halt. During the quarantine, a lot of people who were against online classes came also around, as there really weren’t any other options and I believe people needed it, so there was a substantial demand. All this contributed to the popularity of the classes. When we cannot go outside, more inward leading opportunities rise, and yoga can help a lot in that. For instance, that was the time when I started to meditate more frequently.
As yoga becomes even more popular in its many forms that are attainable through classes, Prenatal Yoga grows also in popularity. Now that there are no more outdoor-classes due to cold weather, what would you recommend to someone who is a novice but would like to start, which type of classes to choose, in-studio or online?
My experience as a Yoga instructor for new moms tells me that yoga classes work practically perfect in an online environment, as it is not a correcting practice, its goal is not to help someone always attain the perfect asana, but it’s rather oriented towards well-being, mobility, general feeling of wellness. This can be perfectly obtained in a virtual environment. The energy of a live attended class is always higher, of course, but in this case the accent is on the advantages of home exercising, and I even would say that there is no lack of connection-building momentum in the online environment. For instance, after each Mom&Baby Yoga class, our circle that was built during quarantine always have lengthy conversations, where the participants share their birthing stories, show their babies, encourage each other. My opinion is that the community created this way is in every way equal to a real life one.
What kind of preparation should a pregnant mom or a new mom do and what does she need to start an online yoga class if she chooses so because of the virus-situation, if she is a novice? What are the advantages of online yoga, disregarding the fact that starting with a baby and managing to be on time is a challenge in itself 😊 but this way you can in your own time, from the comfort of your home attend a yoga class?
That’s right, starting with a baby is a special thing, especially managing to be on time 😊 Yoga is the most equipment-free of all activities. A Yoga mat, comfortable sportswear and an open heart and mind is required 😊 If someone would like to exercise with a baby, it is important to adjust to the baby’s daily routine, not to do it when the baby is hungry or sleepy, this way the Yoga class will quickly turn into crying, but if practiced in the baby’s active play hour, it will be potentially enjoyable for the baby, some of them are very amused to see their mothers in strange poses 😊 Of course, some will prefer to time the Yoga class when it’s sleep time, understandably so, this way the exercises can be more profound. But these priorities are individual, and online yoga is endlessly flexible in this regard.
I presume the disadvantage of online Yoga classes is that one can more easily flunk it, even if you don’t have to go out into the rain and cold, it’s easier to convince yourself to leave it for later, or tomorrow. How can you stay motivated? How can you make it a habit, make yourself do it?
I profess that the flexibility offered by recorded lessons is great, but the greatest motivator is to participate in a live session, where the teacher can also observe you. That’s why I do all my online classes live, only there are instances when they are recorded.
All aforementioned, as well as the prolonged virus-situation led this year to a wonderful initiative, the Sisterhood Yoga Project. Can you please tell us how this idea came about, how did you start and which yoga classes can we attend?
The Sisterhood idea really came about thanks to the quarantine. I realized that there is a demand for Yoga, even more, to pay closer attention to certain themes, so I organized monthly themed classes. I realized also that it would be overwhelmingly laborious and it would be difficult to make it appealing. I was thinking also about the importance of cooperation during quarantine, as we are living now arguably the most difficult period of our lives, and there is no end in sight. I found the girls during the summer and we worked out together the details of the program. My original plan was to have a different host for every month, but it turned out to be more convenient for them the other way, and in hindsight I know it was the right decision. The bond with the girls is ever stronger, and the small community we build far exceeds even my wildest dreams. We created a wonderful female community full of solidarity, support, that so harmoniously highlights how different we all are. Differences turn into strength this way. The monthly thematic remained and we build the exercises around very interesting themes. The exercises are live, via conference call, but everything is recorded, which gives greater flexibility. In September, for instance, we started with a basic theme of security, in October it was joy, connection, inclusivity and embodiment of feminine qualities, in November it was inner strength, self-respect, or the embodiment of masculine qualities. Everybody is free to delve in these as deep as they wish, there is no pressure or expectations, but we strive to help and support everyone to move towards and eventually achieve their own goals. Our program consists of Feminine Yoga, Postpartum or Regenerative Yoga, Yoga for the spine, Flow, Slow Flow, Relaxation, Yoga Nidra and Meditation, and one can chose between them eight times a week. There are also differences in difficulty and duration, 30-45-60-90 minutes in length and we can particularly recommend the flow classes to every beginner, but also advanced yoga practitioner.
There is an abundance of everything on the net, the inexperienced can even hurt themselves, why is it important to learn with a trustworthy teacher and why is it a good thing to pay for the lessons, even take out a membership card?
There is little to no feedback when you’re online, so everyone has to be more alert, that’s fundamental. There are asanas I don’t teach online, because I find them too risky to perform without supervision and correction, headstand being one example. On the other hand, as we progress in mindful exercising (which is a goal), chances to get hurt are diminishing, so I would rather point out here everyone’s individual responsibilities to be more careful. Mindfulness is, finally, the essence of yoga, so it is all good 😊 A membership card is worthy because it adds motivation, you will have a better prospect on the mat when you join a live exercise, besides this way you can find a yoga teacher who you actually can visit when the quarantine is over 😉
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