With gyms and yoga studios closed, many of us have been turning to online platforms to get our yoga fix. Pre-COVID, Amy Manancourt of Hania Therapies, taught yoga across North and West Yorkshire.
I spoke with Amy today about the recent launch of her virtual yoga studio, which she is currently running from her Holbeck home.
When did your journey as a yogi begin?
Amy explained that she started working as a dance teacher and dance artist in 2010 after graduating from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. She remained fascinated by how the body moved, but took a slight diversion in 2017 when she qualified as a yoga teacher. Since 2017, Amy has been teaching in studios across North and West Yorkshire.
What sparked the move to an online platform?
Despite having several successful, fully subscribed, face to face yoga classes, which she enjoyed, Amy had started to feel like she needed to make a move to an online platform. The virtual space, Amy explained, would enable her to cater to people unable to access yoga because of having busy lives or care commitments, as well as those who feel uncomfortable in a yoga class owing to difficulties with holding positions or feeling under pressure to be the best.
The move to a virtual space had been on Amy’s mind for a while, but when we went into lockdown, and yoga studios closed, she was pushed to make it a reality. Amy acknowledged that there is yoga content available online, and said that some of it is great, but it is overwhelming. She also misses the community aspect that is so central to yoga, in the current online yoga space. So, she set about doing something different.
What does the virtual yoga space look like?
Amy’s plan for a virtual yoga space was built on the need for a community platform where people could go at any time. She also saw a need for shorter classes to help people to get into the mindset of giving themselves permission to take time for themselves, and so started with that as a focus. Initially, Amy began by posting YouTube videos, offering pay per view content to continue to build relationships with existing students. But as time went on, she was able to develop a specially developed yoga platform.
The platform is now live and is attracting new and experienced yogis. The classes, which are all pre-recorded, can be completed at anytime and anywhere, enabling people to practise yoga when it suits them. By practising at home, it also ensures that yoga doesn’t morph into the ‘competitive sport’ which it can so easily become in face to face classes, which is not what yoga is about. Amy explained that by practising alone, it takes yoga back to its bare bones, allowing students to focus on their own body and respond in a way that suits them, with no risk of judgement. Whilst pre-recorded classes may not suit everyone because of the lack of instant feedback, they do give people choice and flexibility in their practice whilst giving busy people the permission to look after themselves.
How can people get involved?
Amy’s virtual yoga platform is a subscription-based site where members can choose one of two membership options. Either they can opt for the mini-membership, costing £9.99 per month, which will entitle them to access all classes that are 30 minutes or less, or they can opt for the full membership, costing £19.99 per month, and with this members will have access to all the content on the platform. In addition, all members have access to a private Facebook group, where they can ask questions and connect with other yogis. Amy is planning to expand her class options over the coming weeks and is also exploring the option of offering live classes via the Facebook page. Amy explained that she wants the platform to be as accessible as possible, and as a result, she is happy to make adaptations to her classes to enable those with disabilities to engage.
What will the virtual space look like post-COVID?
Amy said that whilst she expects some of the members on the virtual platform to move back to face to face classes when studios open, she is sure that post-COVID, people will still be busy and unable to find time to attend yoga in physical groups, and for those people, her platform will offer a safe space to engage. For some, the online platform could also complement face to face classes, offering an affordable way to maintain frequent practice.
Amy then went on to say that by offering short yoga classes, her virtual platform gives people permission to take time to themselves, even if it is just 10 minutes. Also, for Amy, the virtual platform offers a way to simplify her life, lessen her levels of stress, and reduce the time she spends driving around, things that she has come to realise over the past couple of months are important to her.
Have you had any feedback from people who have attended your classes?
Despite only having launched the virtual yoga space recently, Amy said that she has had a lot of positive feedback from her members. Many say they really like the short classes, which they feel can easily fit into their already busy schedules. Moreover, members have said that they find that they feel safe in the classes, for example one member, who is working through an injury, does not feel as pressured as she has done in the past to complete poses that cause pain.
Amy summarised the platform and her down to earth, stripped back approach succinctly as ‘A perfect mix of spirituality and Northernness’.
Photograph supplied by Amy Manancourt.