While walking in the forest, yoga teacher Esther Ekhart made a career-changing decision -to go online. Almost nine-years on, Esther’s yoga videos have over 40-million views on YouTube and her online platform EkhartYoga is among the top five most popular yoga streaming sites worldwide. Liz Hawkins finds out how Esther got the idea for her online platform and what sets it apart from the rest.
Esther Ekhart was running her own yoga school in rural Ireland when she realised she had reached a dead end. “I was stuck,” she explains, with infectious energy. “I couldn’t get more people in because my studio was small. I didn’t want to build a bigger studio. I didn’t have the resources for that. I couldn’t teach more hours because that would have been bad for me.’ But she needed a way to offer yoga to those who couldn’t join her class.
Esther was familiar with online yoga resources; she turned to them herself as a yoga teacher in rural Ireland. Back in 2007, videos by other teachers showed there was great scope for improvement.
Esther Ekhart – Ekhart Yoga Photo Gallery
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One problem was that online yoga only seemed to show perfect people with perfect bodies and perfect lives, “I thought if we do something like this it has to be real, real people, people who aren’t perfect, who have troubles, go through good days and bad days,” Esther says.
Krom Idea To Reality
Setting up Ekhart Yoga was hard work for Esther and her husband Bas, who immediately bought a camera and started filming. They first uploaded yoga videos onto YouTube to test their popularity. The videos did well. “For whatever reason it worked, I got known, I was lucky I suppose, with the timing,” Esther says.
Actually starting a paid subscription site though was still a huge task, as Esther remembers. “The whole business aspect was very challenging for me, also to learn to be business-like.” Luckily, close friend Ruud believed in the idea and invested, and in 2012 EkhartYoga was officially launched.
Clarity In The Website
One way EkhartYoga stands out is the slick, stylish and reliable website which is updated with new videos, articles and features on a daily basis. ‘When you come to the website you have to have the feeling you can relax, that it’s clear, not too busy, not all over the place,” says Esther. She emphasises the importance of keeping the principles of yoga in mind: “Some people go overboard with clothes, things in the background and jewellery, but yoga is not an aesthetic practice. Yoga is a functional practice and that’s something you need to keep reflecting in your website.”
Diverse And Experienced Teachers
The volume and diversity of material on EkhartYoga is also impressive, with over 1500 videos, monthly programmes, articles and advertisements for retreats. There are more than 15 regular and 17 guest teachers who all offer a range of yoga and meditation approaches. Teachers are selected for their experience and shared philosophy. As Esther puts it: “They need to be real, they need to be able to fall out of a pose and not mind and continue without having to edit that out.” Every video is filmed by the EkhartYoga team in Esther’s studio, and this ensures the high quality.
Esther’s goal is to make yoga accessible for everyone, especially for those who can’t go to a yoga studio. Esther says: “We’d love to expand,” but emphasises, only as far as she can still enjoy life. “That needs to be the thing that decides: are we still enjoying ourselves? Can we still go for a walk in the forest?”
For more information, visit ekhartyoga.com