Athletic instructors redesign yoga classes for virtual learning


As fitness classes transition to online, yoga teachers are forced to adapt

Eric Black, alongside his wife Bethani Black who also teaches yoga at American River College, record YouTube videos for their students instead of holding live Zoom classes. (Photo courtesy of Eric Black)

This fall, nearly all classes at American River College are being held in an online environment due to the coronavirus pandemic. For most subjects, this transition has been straight forward and manageable, but when it comes to online fitness the college’s athletic instructors have had to think outside the box.

Eric Black, professor of kinesiology and athletics at ARC, is teaching yoga through canvas and instructing students by posting walk-through videos on his YouTube channel. According to Black, he began teaching yoga at ARC in 2007 and made the natural transition to practicing yoga due to ongoing back problems.

“Anybody can go online and follow a yoga workout, but I teach my classes in a kinesiology way, meaning my yoga class is not a yoga session that you will find at a yoga studio,” Black said. “I’m teaching yoga so the students understand what their bodies are doing with the clear stated goal that I want you to learn how to incorporate yoga into your daily workout routine for a lifetime.”

The foundation assignments of Black’s yoga teaching are what he calls “yoga practicals,” where he asks students to practice what they have learned for 30 to 35 minutes, uninterrupted, and report their experience back to him via written logs twice per week. Black records his instructional YouTube videos on the back deck of his home.

“I’m trying to teach my class to the best of my ability by giving them who I am, and who I am during Covid is, I’m doing most of my own personal fitness stuff in my house,” Black said.

Carson Lowden, assistant professor of kinesiology, is also teaching yoga this semester. Her classes are conducted in a hybrid format, where they meet for a live Zoom session once per week, and a second session is pre-recorded and sent out to the class.

“Yoga provides a wonderful opportunity for reflection, so we also do a couple journaling assignments during the semester,” Lowden said. “The logs and journals are completed using GoogleForms and Canvas.”

According to Lowden, online classes run the risk of lacking motivation and the sense of community that in-person classes provide.

“I miss being in the studio face-to-face terribly,” Lowden said. “There is something magical that happens when you engage in physical activity surrounded by a group of people.”

“That being said, my students have been wonderfully committed to their practices and I appreciate everything they are putting into the course from home,” Lowden said.

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