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August 23, 2021

I want one billion people to try my yoga class and these are the tools I’m planning to use…

After being a Chief Financial Officer in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, I did a life change and became a Kundalini Yoga teacher. I’m passionate about teaching this practice because it changed my life, and I’m pretty sure it can change yours too. My goal is to have one billion people try Kundalini Yoga and to state the obvious, the only way this is possible is through technology.

Like most yoga teachers, I started out teaching in a studio with live students. In downtown San Francisco, I’d go from class to class with an audience of 1 to 20 students per session. This was fine for a while but as the goal of a billion people crystallized in my mind, it became obvious that the next step required me to reach more people. I launched a YouTube channel and an Instagram account, created a Facebook community and a Zoom offering, and most recently, experimented with a new tool, PIVOT Yoga, the next-generation platform that promises to solve many of the current limitations of online yoga.

YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Zoom are all obvious choices to reach more people, but the new kid on the block with a lot of hidden potential seems to be PIVOT Yoga. I had my first class last week and was actually blown away. The platform takes online yoga to the next level, offering a real-time feedback loop, a virtual yoga “assistant,” sophisticated sound options, and a structured way for students to track their progress.

My First Live PIVOT Yoga Class
I had read about PIVOT Yoga, but I wanted to try the platform out for myself. The company makes it easy by offering you $15 in-class credit for the free download of the app. I downloaded the app, checked the calendar of “live” classes, and found there were several that fit my schedule. I signed up for a 30-minute Grounding and Balancing Breath Vinyasa class and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the teacher, Katrina Flahive, was also a Kundalini Yoga teacher (like me!) who works with one of my favorite Kundalini Yoga teachers, Guru Singh. It felt like a sign that I was on the right path.

The class has three distinct parts: the welcome, the yoga class, and the wrap-up.

The Welcome
The welcome was a lot like a standard Zoom class with each person participating through their video box. PIVOT Yoga operates a little differently than Zoom in that it requires its students to keep the video on. I liked this feature because it made it feel more like a real class. Katrina greeted each student by name, asked about our prior yoga experience, and generally made everyone feel welcome and comfortable. She checked the video angles for each person, and we were ready to start.

The Class
For the class, Katrina launched the virtual class environment and while she stayed visible in a video box in the upper left-hand part of the screen, the rest of the space became a yoga studio with a yoga assistant demonstrating the sequence. If I hadn’t known, I would have had no idea that the yoga assistant was based on a pre-recorded video. The class flowed really beautifully with Katrina giving instructions and corrections while the yoga assistant demonstrated the sequence. It turns out the teacher controls the whole thing and can slow down or pause the class video if necessary.

The Wrap-Up
The final part, the wrap-up, was by far the coolest part of the experience. After the class ended, we switched to wrap-up mode where Katrina showed us still shots of us doing the class along with highlighted points of correction. She showed me images of my plank pose, highlighting how my hand should be under my shoulder and how to improve my angles. She went around to each student doing the same so we could see what we were doing right and where we could improve. It was impressive with easy-to-follow, helpful, encouraging tips, and a clear path to how to track observable progress. The wrap-up part of the class was less than 10 minutes, but it left a big impression on me.

How To Teach On PIVOT Yoga
I was hooked so I asked the company to give me a demo of the teaching side of the app. This too was surprisingly easy. I downloaded the software and followed the instructions to create my own first “private” class. The platform is rich in functionality, offering sophisticated sound and visual options. It doesn’t stop there. It also archives the screenshots, lets your students leave reviews, and offers a dashboard of statistics. I could easily see how this could scale. With this platform, I can teach more classes as I don’t need to demo the entire class each time because the “yoga assistant” will do that for me. I can imagine my students returning because they can track their progress. Everyone likes to see improvement, even yogis and yoginis. And with the on-demand option, I can offer yoga while I sleep. That’s a nice perk!

What problems does PIVOT Yoga solve?
The platform eliminates a lot of the regular barriers someone might have in starting yoga. Here is what I found most valuable:

  1. Feedback, feedback, feedback!

As I mentioned above, my favorite part of the PIVOT Yoga class is the wrap-up at the end when the teacher shows each student still screenshots of themselves during the class and offers helpful corrections and praise. My PIVOT Yoga class was by far the most feedback-friendly yoga class I’ve taken, virtual or in-person. I love this element, and I can see how the yoga practice of my students could quickly improve with this structured approach. Seeing progress is motivating, and this app makes it easy. I suspect this promise of observable improvement will keep people coming back for more.

The wrap-up is just one part of the feedback offering. PIVOT Yoga also offers motion sensor clothing so if you take an on-demand (pre-recorded) yoga class, you can still get feedback. The sensor clothing means a virtual avatar is created so I can go back and watch my session or get digitally generated voice feedback during my session. I ordered my clothes, eager to see where this could lead.

  1. The “yoga assistant”

In most Zoom yoga classes, I can’t give my students a lot of feedback. Why? Because  my attention is divided between correcting my students and demonstrating the poses so the students know what to do. And most of the time, demonstrating the poses takes priority.

Even in Kundalini Yoga, where we are trained not to do the class with our students, we’ve had to make adjustments for the online environment. It’s too energetically empty to offer instruction only in a Zoom yoga class. Instead, I usually demo most of the class to help my students follow the exercises, making it nearly impossible to give consistent, meaningful feedback.

PIVOT Yoga fixes this problem. With the virtual assistant, I get the best of both worlds: a yoga assistant demonstrates the entire online class (based on a pre-recorded video I upload to the app), and I am able to focus my attention on my students. This was observable in the class I took because the yoga teacher didn’t even sit on a yoga mat. She was focused on us, watching our moves, and giving us support and corrections.

  1. An on-demand option

With the on-demand video option, people can log onto the platform and watch my feedback-friendly class whenever it fits their schedule. The world has over 300 million people doing yoga and each day that number grows. Offering them a way to take yoga that fits their schedule is critical. PIVOT Yoga has this option, and it’s one way I can stay focused on my goal of reaching one billion people.

Why do I want a billion people to take my yoga class?
I truly believe each person who does yoga makes the world a more compassionate place. We have over 7 billion people on the planet now, and I think we can all agree we need more compassion. Can you imagine a world where one billion people are doing yoga? It would be amazing.

A billion is a big number, but according to Statistica, over 4.6 billion people, or over 65% of the world population is already online. And that’s a growing number. Earlier this year, my 3-year goddaughter showed me this Baby Shark video that turns out to be the top YouTube video ever with 7.61 billion views. So a billion is actually in range…with the right tools. And I think I’ve found mine.

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