For Kino MacGregor, the virtual world of yoga began with a simple dream.
As the owner of Miami Life Center in Miami, Florida, MacGregor shared two things led her to the virtual world. First, as she grew in her yoga practice, she became less connected with mainstream media. There was a need in her own life for content that spoke to the yoga lifestyle.
Second, she wanted the messaging of yoga to be carried digitally by yoga practitioners and teachers who wouldn’t allow capitalistic gains to sway the content. “I felt like if I was the one that created the platform, I knew within myself that for me, being a student of yoga always comes first and it would always be about disseminating the pure, traditional teachings,” said MacGregor.
So, OMstars was born. Toted as the world’s first yoga TV network, MacGregor said the dream of it is to be everything about the yoga world. Whether it’s online classes, lifestyle, meditation, a global travel series, etc., she simply wants to give yogis a place to consume media that aligns with their practice. “We wanted to tell the whole story of what yoga represents,” she said.
However, introducing virtual yoga doesn’t have to be an entire TV network. It can be as simple as using your iPhone, recording class audio and creating a program from that.
Brittany Hopkins, the owner of Container Collective Yoga and Bikes in Lakewood, Colorado, did just this while trying to meet the needs of her students. She explained some of her members moved away, but missed the classes at the studio. That’s when Hopkins got the idea to put together a 52-week virtual program.
Once a week, students receive a yoga class straight to their mailbox. It’s a video and audio recording that Hopkins took of herself teaching an actual class at her studio. She recorded them over time and said the program was the most work upfront in putting together the email campaign. After that, it’s been a breeze and some added revenue. “It’s just a nice little extra residual income for the studio,” said Hopkins. “I’m a believer in having multiple revenue streams.”
She also offers a 40-day program that follows Baron Baptiste’s book, “40 Days to Personal Revolution.” It is set-up to be done from anywhere, but Hopkins does offer an in-person version of the program every January. And many students will do it more than once. For instance, a couple of previous members who live in Texas now do it again every year, shared Hopkins.
While both Hopkins and MacGregor have seen the benefits of virtual yoga, oftentimes the question arises, “If you offer it online, will people stop coming to your studio?”
Hopkins shared hers is mainly for students who have moved away. She would no longer have a touchpoint with them if she didn’t have a virtual offering.
On MacGregor’s end, her idea is to reach students who are not only far away, but also those who don’t feel comfortable attending class in-person or who can’t afford it. And often, she has found they show up to her studio in the end. “After having practiced on OMstars for a few months, they will get comfortable with some of the teachers we have on staff there and then they will make a special trip to come and take that teacher’s class,” she shared.
Plus, OMstars also looks to recreate what Miami Life Center is about online. MacGregor said that’s been accomplished through presenting classes as courses that build upon one another, having a point tracking system to keep yogis accountable, and through OMstars passionate ambassadors. “That’s helped foster and nurture the idea of community,” she said.
Having something virtual for everyone is another way to make your online offerings successful. Hopkins said while the 40-day program is for beginners, the 52-week one is not. As for OMstars, it looks to cater to all body types. Thus, you’ll find a wide variety of shapes, sizes and ethnicities of people in its videos.
Whether you’re using a free platform like Hopkins, or getting involved with a massive undertaking like OMstars, virtual yoga is making its mark on the industry, if only to build a portal into the world of yoga.
“We want to deliver the world’s best teachers to students everywhere,” said MacGregor. “In this way, we think of ourselves as being a portal into yoga teaching, yoga lifestyle — everything about the yoga practice.”