Yoga teachers in usually-quiet coastal towns of the Coromandel and Waihi Beach have been rewarded for their generosity through lockdown with an expanded customer base signing up for classes online.

Instructors from Waihi Beach to Whangamata responded quickly to the challenges of running a business from home, providing free online classes via Zoom or Facebook during level 4 lockdown.

For some, it has turned out to be both satisfying and financially rewarding.

Drift Yoga Studio Whangamata owner April Boonen and Waihi Beach Wellness are both adding online classes after reopening studios this week.


April's free online classes were taken up by people as far as Hamilton, Tauranga, Tairua and Pauanui and since level 3 she's been able to cover outgoings by charging $39 for 10 online classes.

"It was never my intention when I started to go online that I would do it after. I thought this was just supporting people until the studio opened."

In the past she'd suggested to friends who couldn't make her classes that they try those freely available on YouTube, and was surprised when they said they preferred to learn from someone they know.

"I've been overwhelmed with the support, being a small business it's really nice."

A fellow instructor in Auckland told April she was not putting a value on her classes by making them free, but her new followers are now making their money stretch in support of her.

Said Teena Walford: "I'd never really done a proper yoga class before, but during lockdown I tried the Drift Studio Facebook and Instagram classes ... April is an amazing teacher, so helpful and funny and down to earth, not like other classes that have been on TV during lockdown.

"I've been doing classes nearly every day during lockdown and am carrying on through the studio's online classes. Highly recommend to anyone who needs to calm their crazy, and stretch out."

Studio classes are usually $15 and April said the level 3 online tuition price allowed more people to afford tuition while helping her cover outstanding expenses over the last six or seven weeks.


This will be April's studio's first winter in Whangamata and she is investing in a better microphone and tripod, aiming to create an online product to boost numbers.

"I got excited about the potential."

April Boonen of Whangamata is using online tools now after a crash course during lockdown. Photo / Supplied
April Boonen of Whangamata is using online tools now after a crash course during lockdown. Photo / Supplied

Yoga with Miriama teacher Miriama Smith taught for free to members of her Facebook page and said while teaching to an iPhone on her deck at home presented its challenges, she eventually got with the flow.

"I'm a very 'hands on' teacher and a tactile person, who likes to feel people's energies and be able to offer modifications, based on what's happening with each individual. It took me about two weeks to feel completely comfortable with the process.

"I also had to learn to go with the flow, even when my dog would come and lie on my yoga mat or my son would bust out and ask me a question right in the middle of filming - but that's life right? We can't control what happens, only how we react to it."

She's happy to be back teaching in the community again - teaching Saturday and Sunday 8.30am at the Waihi Beach RSA, Wednesday 5.30pm at the Waihi Beach School Hall and Monday 6pm at the Katikati War Memorial Hall Lounge.

Miriama Smith from Miriama Yoga was among instructors who taught free classes during lockdown.
Miriama Smith from Miriama Yoga was among instructors who taught free classes during lockdown.

"Taking classes online has meant I've cast the net a lot further and I'm hearing from new and current members from all around New Zealand, which is heartwarming."

Jeanette McCallum from Waihi Beach Wellness offered free online Gentle Yoga and Chair Yoga classes each day and feedback has been so positive live online yoga classes will continue three times a week.

"I am sure we have all done lots of personal learning during the lockdown. My big learning has been to appreciate loved ones more and to prioritise giving more time to those I care for - especially my 89-year-old precious mum."

Waihi Beach Wellness Live Online Gentle Yoga will be held Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays 10am-10.30am and Chair Yoga on the same days 11am-11.30am for a $30 month subscription.