|A brief history of the live online yoga courses|
Dr. Virginia Marginean, founder of Liveonlineyoga.com, met her first future online student, me, an American, through some mutual friends during the Christmas Holidays of 2003. I am the first online student that along with Virginia, we began a journey that has culminated with this brief history in the inaugural opening of this website, dedicated to promoting yoga over the internet, or as we say “Yoga over the ‘net”. Today I have colleagues in my classes from Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Israel, Malta, Canada and several states in the US. Today we range from beginners with some students having up to eleven years of Yoga Instruction on the lineage of Yoga Teacher Gregorian Bivolaru. I am now heading into my 7th year of online yoga and it’s hard to imagine how far we’ve come from humble beginnings after my trip to Romania six years ago.
Despite our age difference, when I first met Virginia we both felt a strong spiritual bond that drew us close together in friendship and we committed to keep in contact with each other. Virginia introduced me to Integral Yoga and her school MISA (The Movement for Spiritual Integration in Absolute), headquartered in Bucharest Romania; it is the largest yoga school in Europe with over 35,000 students and over 250 locations world wide. Virginia extended an open invitation to me to attend a just forming English speaking class as well as one of the annual International Yoga Symposiums at Herculane in May or at Costinesti (Black Sea) in August.
In late 2004 while on a month’s visit to Bucharest, I was accompanied by Virginia to an English speaking class in Bucharest. The class was unlike any class I’d seen in the US; it was a complete experience mentally, physically and spiritually. During my month long visit, we explored the options of continuing the classes upon my return to California. The only option available, at that time, was the correspondence class with an assigned instructor, who would monitor the student periodically, to see how they were progressing with the class notes, assignments, meditations and techniques, as well as provide the various initiations when required. However, after the wonderful classroom experience I had in Bucharest there had to be another way. It turns out that I am an engineer who lives and works in Silicon Valley in California, the world’s center of high tech with companies ranging from Intel, Cisco, Apple, Google and Yahoo.
Needless to say the idea came up of how to use this high tech to solve this dilemma or problem of doing classes remotely via the internet, bringing the Romanian classroom experience to the US. Now what was needed was MISA’s permission, a willing and capable Yoga teacher who was willing to teach me on an individual basis, explore the technology and develop a delivery system that would be suitable for the internet environment. I remembered that after my first class in Bucharest, one of MISA’s founders had given me a card to contact her when I returned to the US to talk about taking an English based class. I was so excited I sent an email my first day back home and suggested doing a class over the internet. What I didn’t realize was that it would be a significant effort for personal instruction and tying up an instructor with over 35,000 other students in MISA, this was a lot to ask for. Weeks went by and I received no answer to my email.
Virginia went to see my instructor in Bucharest to get an answer. It was during that conversation that the instructor proposed to Virginia to teach me and that she had 12 years experience, more than enough experience to handle a beginner, so permission was now granted to begin the journey. It turned out that Virginia has always desired to be a yoga teacher, along with her many colleagues who became instructors, now it was her opportunity to become a teacher, herself. Carpe diem! Virginia seized the opportunity with a chance of becoming a yoga instructor. At the time she was in her 12th year, never taught a yoga class, was not very proficient with the computer and had no delivery system for presenting materials to her student….me. Complicating matters further the written classes were in Romanian not English. What was most perplexing was that Virginia did not own a working computer, let alone have a reliable network to handle voice, video and data.
It was during medical school, Virginia learned to become very resourceful and she applied this skill into putting together the things she needed for success. Through her yoga colleagues she found a place to teach, a computer and a reliable network where she would later begin teaching. Thus online yoga was born with the first class starting at 4 am US Pacific Time in January 2005. In 2005 when we started video calls was just really coming mainstream, the video was not of the highest quality, voice was intermittent at times and of course the Network Quality of Service (QOS) was only average. Other students began to find out about the online course and they jumped at the opportunity to have a live instruction with one of the teachers of Europe’s largest yoga school (MISA), inspite of all of the technical network problems we encountered in the beginning.
As multimedia technology matured, the online class grew with the technology in the number of students, the internet could support with the low cost tools employed. Later, at the suggestion of Virginia’s friend who provided her the computer and network equipment, the key link was added, Skype, a 16 bit audio application that allows voice calls over the internet for free. This addition relegated Yahoo to just a webcam and the Skype-Yahoo combination, currently in use, has been employed successfully since 2005 and up to the present. Today we have the highest quality of online service at the right price, it’s all free!
Not only did our bandwidth increase over the internet we also increased in students, from the US, Canada, Europe, Malta and Israel. As the class matured Virginia expanded her teaching methods to include presentations and free live webinars, in lieu of workshops, for example. For presentations and webinars we added “Go-To-Meeting” and “Go-To-Webinar”, where Virginia makes multimedia presentations and conducts webinars about Integrated Yoga, to hundreds of attendees sharing the knowledge of Yoga Teacher and Founder of MISA, Gregorian Bivolaru across the globe. Many of our students accept the offer at the webinars to join the class. The first two classes of Integrated Yoga are always free. From humble beginnings, Virginia now gives her classes on Sunday mornings into many living rooms, family rooms and workout rooms worldwide.
It all began with a simple email, a hope from a student and an enthusiastic instructor and what you end with is liveonlineyoga.com. Come and join us as you begin and deepen your spiritual experience, all in the convenience of your own home, hotel room or wherever you are. Join us for a completely unique experience.