What is teaching yoga going to look like in the UK in 2021? We've been looking ahead and trying to establish what we might hope to expect in the way of classes, workshops and retreats.
First of all let's consider classes. Estimates have the over 50s, the vulnerable and priority frontline workers having had their first jabs by the end of April and their second jabs by the end of the summer. The rest of the population will then be vaccinated during the Autumn, when hopefully we might be looking at a one jab protocol which would halve the time to protect the nation. That means that studios who's average age is less than 50 will be working with low numbers, good cleaning protocols, expensive ventilation systems, and online offerings. Independent yoga teachers will once again be embracing the outdoors and perhaps limited numbers, rule of 6 maybe, for a long while. There might be an argument to offering two types of timetable, one to the vaccinated and one to the non-vaccinated - with different number ratios. Maybe legislation will take this into account and we might even see this in restaurants or any shared space. I expect that physical adjustments will still be avoided in un-vaccinated class settings. A vaccinated person could still carry the virus and give it to a non-vaccinated person, especially before a second jab, so the only safe interactions are between two vaccinated people.
Those of us who enjoy workshops with popular overseas teachers, travel from foreign countries to the UK is going to be hard, inconvenient and expensive for a while. Having been slow to adopt the New Zealand model, it seems that for the medium term at least, our political hurry to allow travel corridors to open might be subsiding.
And finally, will you get to go on an overseas retreat or yoga holiday this summer? Covid tests on leaving the UK and returning, plus a potential 2 week stay in a hotel is going to exclude most trips. Maybe, if you're over 50yrs you might be fully vaccinated by the end of July, but that's if there are no hold ups in supply and distribution. Realistically at this stage, I don't think we are looking at travel opening fully until the autumn, especially if you don't want to miss your jab slot. And then where are you going to go? Europe are behind us in the Covid vaccination curve and your teacher, due to Brexit, will have to navigate a new level of work legislation and bureaucracy to be allowed to teach in each different EU country. This might prove a non-event, but could well result in your teacher being stopped at the border and you enjoying the retreat centre without them or their teaching.
So it looks like it's alfresco and online going forward into the first half of the year. Let's pray for a sustained drop in the cases of Covid 19 and an end to the loss and the devastating sickness of dear friends. Let's hope for a beautiful early spring, some sustained periods of warmth and sunshine and a chance to meet again outside to start with. Let's not rush to be back to the old normal - a hug with those we love will be enough to begin with. We are good at patience. And then let the rebuilding begin. Student by student, the community will congregate again as our confidence and health return.
Outside yoga and on the water might be an effective way to offer your students a different experience. If you fancy learning to teach SUP yoga, there is a teacher conversion course in May on the Isle of Wight to set you up for the summer. Details can be found here: https://www.islandschoolofyoga.com/sup-yoga-teacher-conversion
Image by Charlie Mackesy