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Ep. 42: Virtual Private Yoga Sessions with Megan Spears and Michael McKinney

“Initially I had reservations for offering virtual private yoga sessions to my clients because some of them do not use technology and are very used to having me in the room. But I had to put this to the side so I could help my clients and continue seeing them in this time.” - Megan Spears

“I didn’t have any reservations about working with Megan virtually but like Megan said, I had reservations about the things I couldn’t control. Being in a hotel room, I didn’t have my mat, sometimes WiFi isn’t the greatest connectivity. But honestly, I knew that even if there were odds and ends that happened it was okay and the more important part of it was the practice and having Megan guide me through what I needed in that moment. That was far more important than any of those other potential things that could have kept us from doing it.” - Michael McKinney

Reasons to offer virtual private yoga sessions

There are many reasons that going virtual is a good idea. Currently, we have to offer virtual classes and private sessions if we want our businesses to continue and survive. But even after we get out of this current situation we’re in together, there are many other reasons why virtual sessions are great to have as an option:

  • Students travel schedule - maybe your corporate client travels for work a lot and they want to continue to work with you.

  • Personal schedule - maybe the couple you’re working with had a change in schedule and they need the hour back in their day so going virtual would save the commute time

  • Sick - maybe your student isn’t feeling well but would still love some restorative yoga or a breathing exercise or a meditation with you

  • Gift - maybe your students want to gift a private session to a family member that doesn’t live in your local area.

  • Move - maybe your private client has to move but wants to continue to work with you. Or maybe you have to move and want to continue to work with your students.

  • Non-local reach - maybe you want to extend your reach and work outside your local area.

“No matter what your reason is for working virtually with private clients, you can have a major impact on their lives by doing this. Don’t let the fact that you can’t be in a room together stop you from helping your students.” - Amanda McKinney

“If Megan had said we weren’t going to be able to do private sessions because she didn’t believe in technology or she was worried about technology, I would have been heartbroken.” - Michael McKinney

Dealing with the technology of virtual yoga sessions

Many yoga teachers are nervous about handling the technology side of teaching yoga online. Megan shares all the tech she uses for teaching private yoga sessions and how she took it one step at a time. Keep it really simple for yourself as a teacher and continue to remember the impact you’re making.

“If they are booking online, they are mentally ready for a virtual session.” - Megan Spears

“The technology doesn’t become the focus, it’s just part of the background.” - Michael McKinney

  • Email - use email to share information with your students. Stay connected to them so you’re providing information to help with this process. Ask them what they need and give it to them.

  • Loom - record videos of you talking and sharing your screen to help them with the process

  • Zoom - Megan uses Zoom meetings to host private yoga sessions. She has the pro account so that she can have a session that’s more than 40 minutes in length.

  • Google Calendar - Megan invites her students using their gmail account so that the invitation will show up on their calendar. If any changes are made, it will automatically be updated.

  • Computer or Phone - use uses her computer or phone camera and microphone. She doesn’t have any extra equipment.

“Having it on my calendar was extremely helpful.” - Michael McKinney

How does a virtual private yoga session differ from an in-person private session?

Other than the fact that you aren’t in-person together, you can operate the same way. As the private yoga teacher, you know the client and can speak to them in the same ways.

For example, if you typically have a check in at the beginning of the session and allow that to guide your time together, you would do the same thing online.

But the biggest thing that’s different with a virtual yoga session is the element of control of the environment. In a yoga studio or private yoga space, you can control the temperature, the sounds, the distractions (to some degree) but when you’re virtual, you cannot control what’s happening in that person’s home or whatever space they are in.

“We’re in our homes, which is so lovely, but control of the environment isn’t controlled. I can hear the lawnmower. My cat’s sitting right here and she might start yelling. The doorbell might ring. There’s all these little things that could happen that I don’t get to control, so there’s that.” - Megan Spears

In order to handle this, you first have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t control this. You can certainly give suggestions to your students about how to set up their home or space for a great yoga session but sometimes the dogs are going to get in the way, or the doorbell will ring. These are things you would just have to be okay with.

Here are two suggestions for dealing with an environment that you can’t control:

  • Communicate ahead of time - share some tips with your students about how to set up their space for a calm yoga practice. Encourage them to communicate with their kids or roommates beforehand, etc.

  • Acknowledge the distraction when it comes up - if the doorbell rings or the dog is playful or the kids walk into the room, acknowledge it and move on. The student could be embarrassed that this is happening so letting them know it’s okay is key. Also we have distractions in life all the time so addressing this and learning how to be mindful and navigate the distractions of life is a great learning lesson in yoga anyway. Use this situation to your advantage.

Tips for running a virtual private yoga session

The best advice for this is to sit down for an hour and think about how you run your in-person private yoga sessions. Write it out step by step. What do you say, how do you interact with your students, how do you conclude the session. From there, I want you to follow the same pattern and simply adjust if needed due to the fact that you can’t physically be in the same room with your student.

Be Present

Just like you would in-person, be fully present with your students. Take the precautions that you need in order to be 100% fully present for your students. Don’t have your email or social media open in another tab on your computer. Tell your housemates that you’re hosting a private session and that you are off limits for an hour.

“When we are having our sessions, my eyes are right there. I can see so much and I’m completely focused on you and Amanda. No matter what’s happening inside of my house it doesn’t matter at all because you’re what I’m focused on.” - Megan Spears

Ask Questions

You do this in-person but do it even more in a virtual session. If you aren’t sure about something, ask. If you’re curious about something, ask. The more you ask questions, the more you will learn from your students and get better and better. Both with in-person and virtual private sessions. Plus this allows your students to feel heard in that moment.

“If you sense something. If there’s a challenge that you’re not sure about, just ask. Say ‘hey, how’s it going?’ and be open to whatever the answer is. In these moments it would be easy to think ‘oh my gosh this isn’t working’ but that’ likely not it.” - Megan Spears

Prepare the same way

Don’t be tempted to change things with how you prepare for a private yoga session when you are hosting it virtually. The way you teach should feel the same to your student. However you prepare for your in-person sessions, do the same thing before your virtual sessions. Show up for your students in a consistent way. Consistency as a teacher is really important and helpful for your students.

“I don’t prepare any differently than I would for an in-person private session. The tech is different but how I teach is the same.” - Megan Spears

Be the Leader in the room

Just like you are the leader of the session in-person, you are still the leader virtually. Show up and be the leader, always.

“This is exactly how we are as teachers. We show up, no matter what happens, no matter what the tech situation is, I’m the leader in the room.” - Megan Spears

“You’re the leader in that room. Get it together.” - Megan’s AWESOME Mama!


Try out different ways to find what works best for you but in a private session it’s very important that you don’t fall into your own practice but rather stay focused on the student 100%. This is easier done when you aren’t demoing the pose but rather talking your students through using verbal cues or even hand movements.

“I don’t demo during the session.” - Megan Spears

How to communicate with your students about going virtual

Megan did a great job communicating with her students when she began to offer virtual private sessions. Below are some resources from Megan that she shared for you. Use this as inspiration to communicate with your students but make sure to create your own videos because sharing Megan’s with your students would be odd.

Megan did a great job communicating this message because of her confidence and excitement. She communicated that she was excited to share private virtual sessions to her clients, not scared. This confidence comes through and allows your student to feel more comfortable.

“Megan did a great job explaining that whatever I had in that moment is perfectly fine.” - Michael McKinney

How to price a virtual yoga private session?

The price for a virtual session should be the exact same as your in-person session rate. The value is the same.

“There’s no difference in the value. As a matter of fact, it saves us an hour of our time since we don’t have to commute. There are many benefits. Do not lower your rate because it’s virtual.” - Amanda McKinney

“As a student, I would have thought it was odd if you lowered your rate. If you gave the same compassion and care to us as students but lowered your rate, then raised it when we were in person, that would be odd.” - Michael McKinney

More motivation to offer virtual private sessions for your students

“If Megan had said we weren’t going to be able to do private sessions because she didn’t believe in technology or she was worried about technology, I would have been heartbroken.” - Michael McKinney

“This was done over Zoom. No gas was used. No drive time, and it works. I felt connected and could easily tell. Megan could not only see what was happening, but could sense what was happening. Adjustments were constantly being made, cues used to help me get to better movement in just as important, better awareness. A good flow online from a pre recorded video is helpful, but that individual connection is so incredibly important. There's nothing like it.” - Michael McKinney

“It didn’t matter if we were in the same room at that moment or thousands of miles apart, Megan was able to understand where I was mentally, where my mindset was and how my body was feeling.” - Michael McKinney

“I completely understand why you would be nervous to offer virtual private yoga sessions. I completely understand how challenging it can be to shift from something that you just became comfortable doing to something that is uncomfortable. So I want to acknowledge that. And then we need to say ‘okay, now what? What’s the first step?’ And be okay with it not be as smooth the first time.” - Megan Spears

“Offer a short session a day or two before the first session with the student. Be positive, be warm, be excited because this will shine through to your client as well.” - Megan Spears

“I love the idea of the 15 minute session with no expectation other than ‘hi, how are you’ and getting comfortable with the tech.” - Michael McKinney

“As a beginner, there’s nothing better than the private session. It’s helping me in an individualized way and I think this medium of going online and being able to be at home and can use that time to understand and build my practice is great.” - Michael McKinney

“I think private instruction right now online can help so many people.” - Michael McKinney

“This is something so beneficial and so impactful that you can carry on for the rest of your life and what a wonderful thing to start right now. So if you’re a yoga teacher and don’t offer that, it makes me sad.” - Michael McKinney

Your next step

Offer virtual yoga to your private clients. If you have private clients already, reach out to them today and let them know that virtual is always an option for them. If you don't have private clients yet, add this to your website and start promoting it ASAP! (If you don't have a website yet, promote it on social media or your email list).

Until next time, give yourself permission to teach yoga online and grace along the way. Talk to you soon!

About Megan Spears

Megan is a private teacher who specializes in teaching beginners and those recovering from an injury. She is also a coffee-loving body nerd who loves to blast NPR in the car. She began by teaching power vinyasa in 2014 and, helped train yoga teachers, and now works exclusively with private clients. She loves to geek out with her students as they learn about their movement patterns and gather their favorite meditation practices.

Megan's Links:

About Michael McKinney

Michael is my amazing husband and a beginner yoga student of Megan's. He is also a dad and a fan-freaking-tastic Director of Product Management. He loves his corporate job and his team. Yoga allows him the energy to travel for work and keep his mindset calm during all the work and life stressors that come up. He tells anyone and everyone about how great yoga is and how it's benefited his life. I'm blessed to be his wife (and writing this bio for him!).


5 Weeks to Confident Yoga Marketing

The doors are OPEN to my course 5 Weeks to Confident Yoga Marketing and I would love for you to join in on the fun! Click here to grab your spot quickly because doors close on May 8th and we start with week #1 on May 11th! **If you're seeing this in the future, get on the waitlist to be the first to know when the doors open again.

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