The Rise of Online Yoga – Jenni Rawlings Yoga and Movement

the rise of online yoga

by Jenni Rawlings i Travis Pollen, PhD


The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the landscape of the yoga world. In a matter of days in March, yoga studios, gyms, health clubs, and all the other settings where group yoga classes were held in person were closed worldwide, and in many places remain closed today. Yoga teachers who wanted to continue their classes were forced to make an almost instantaneous turn to online teaching, and yoga students who wanted instruction had no place to practice but online.

With so much change right now, it has made us think. How is the new and prevalent role of online yoga in our world changing the way we perceive and interact with online yoga? What online yoga formats are currently most popular with students and teachers? Once the pandemic is over and we return to a “new normal,” will online yoga continue to have such a large presence in our lives? Or will yogis be so excited to return to their face-to-face classes that online yoga will resume its former support function behind face-to-face instruction?

To learn about this timely and important issue for the yoga community, we designed a survey to investigate how the participation, preferences, and attitudes of online yoga students and teachers about online yoga have changed since before pandemic. In addition, we sought to compare and contrast these factors between students and teachers.

We will then explain how we conducted the survey, describe the demographics of the yogis who responded, and share the findings, limitations, and implications.

What we did

In July 2020, we sent a brief anonymous online yoga survey to Jenni’s email subscribers and social media followers. The survey was a mixture of open-ended questions (free answers) and closed-ended questions (answer options provided) to produce both qualitative and quantitative data.

In the survey we asked the following questions:

Then we repeated the same questions above, this time in reference to the time period during the pandemic. We also asked the students how they chose their online yoga classes before and during the pandemic.

We continued with four additional questions for both students and teachers:

  • Compared to before the pandemic, you see online yoga more or less favorably now (or not different)? Because?

  • Once things come back return to “normal” (or a “new normal”), do you plan to practice / teach yoga online?

Finally, to understand the demographics of the respondents, we asked about their age, gender, and location, as well as who they knew about the survey and whether they were current or former members of Jenni’s online yoga class library. At the end of the survey, we offered a space so that respondents could share anything else they wanted us to know.

To determine whether there were statistically significant differences between students ‘and teachers’ responses to selected questions, we performed Chi-square tests. (If you’re curious about the details of the stats, we’d love to share more; just let us know.)

Description of the respondents

Here is a breakdown of the yogis who participated in the survey:

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