Updated: May 13
“Hate on social media all you want. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. But I personally love it. And I do my best to use it for positivity and use it to encourage and inspire others to get started and take action. For my students it’s to take action on their mat. But for you listening, it’s to take action creating that first video or sending those 5 messages to people you want to start a relationship with.” - Mary
Instagram is known for pretty pictures but it can be so much more! Proof is my friend, Mary Ochsner. She has a goal of using Instagram in a positive way and helping beginners experience yoga in an accessible way. She started with the goal of creating an online yoga business but wasn’t sure what it would look like. She committed to using Instagram as her business tool and was open to the process of seeing what happened. And what happened is more than 200,000 followers and now an app dedicated to sharing yoga. Her story is incredible and inspiring!
Using Instagram to make yoga accessible
Mary’s goal is to help make yoga accessible to people not only from a convenience factor but also as beginner yoga practitioners and Instagram was her choice of platform. She saw Instagram as a platform that many people were using and saw the opportunity to reach her audience. She posts quick video and image tutorials that address a pain point or issue that someone may be experiencing.
For example, one of her videos that went viral in the online space is how Mary and I first connected. She posted a video of desk yoga titled “Do you sit at a desk all day?” and when I came across it I sent it to my husband directly from Instagram. In that moment I realized how easy it was for me to send a video in this form to someone and I had to let Mary know how great it was. So I told her and she wrote back and we’ve stayed connected ever since.
Mary started with the problem: yoga not feeling or being accessible to people, specifically beginners.
Found a simple solution that she could implement easily: quick tutorials on Instagram.
And continued testing the solution: she posts a video tutorial every day of the week (even when she doesn’t feel like it!)
“Social media is meant to be social. So half of the equation is you putting that content out there, giving people something to interact with and something to respond to. And the other portion is you interacting with people.” - Mary
Using Humor to Attract Your Dream Student
Mary adds a lot of humor into her videos and Instagram posts. This helps her connect with her beginner audience and break down the barrier of yoga being serious or too complicated. Every step of the way with Mary’s process, she stays focused on the problem that she is solving: making yoga accessible. Accessible meaning at their fingertips (by using Instagram) but also meaning simple steps and quick steps. So often people think that yoga needs to be a long practice but it can just be a few minutes.
“These are things anyone can do. You can do it at your desk. That’s what makes yoga part of your daily life. Not always doing a 90 minute fire hot yoga class.” - Mary
Whether it’s humor or another part of your personality, infusing your personality into your Instagram (or any social media platform) presence will help your audience connect with you. Mary uses humor because she knows that a barrier for beginners is feeling overwhelmed or confused or like they don’t have what it takes. So taking this information, she uses silly faces to capture attention from her dream student and through that she is able to help them more effectively.
You can take this same idea and infuse your personality into your social media presence too. Here are a few questions to get you thinking about how you can do this:
What is the problem you’re helping solve for your dream student? (ex: addressing back pain, helping children focus in school)
What do your students say about your personality and how you teach? (ex: your calming voice, your silly jokes)
Take this information and see how you can use your personality to connect you to more of your dream student.
“I think a lot of us can take this a little too seriously at times and I’m guilty as well, especially when it comes to teaching classes and teaching in person. You can get really caught up in your head and take it too seriously and over analyze things. And I think that humor kind of helps lighten the mood and spirit to make people feel more comfortable and make it feel more approachable.” - Mary
Starting Where You Are
Mary has over 200,000 followers on Instagram now but she started with 0 just like all of us. And one of the beautiful things about Instagram is that you can scroll back and see the evolution of the account if the person leaves up the earlier posts. And Mary does this! Look at her Instagram account and scroll down for a while (remember, she posts a tutorial a day!) and you will see how her posting evolved over time.
One thing that Mary mentions is that she started by having her mom record a video for her. She didn’t even have a tripod! She used what she had to get started and that was her phone and her mom at her house. She started. That is the key - getting started.
From there she has found resources that help her with the filming, editing and publishing process but Mary is still doing this all on her own. She doesn’t have a camera crew at her house. She doesn’t have fancy equipment and she is producing some of the best tutorials I have ever seen on Instagram. They are incredibly effective (which is the most important!) and beautiful.
“Start where you are. Just like you tell your students to do and just like you meet them where they are on their mat, you can do the same for yourself on this crazy social media journey of sharing content.” - Amanda
Tools and Resources from Mary Ochsner
I asked all the questions, especially after I found out that she did this all herself. I had to know what tools she used, and here they are:
Mary does all the video recording and editing from her iPhone 8 Plus (at the time of this recording). She kept editing simple because, as she says, she’s not tech savvy so she needed simple. She used YouTube videos to learn how to edit and then started.
“Like anything else it’s a practice. Talk about a lesson from your yoga mat into real life. Your first video is going to be a little clunky. And then you will get a little smoother and better at it. You’ll get faster. But it takes time.” - Mary
Allowing your Instagram Content to Evolve Over Time
Mary shares her journey that she has taken on Instagram and how her content has evolved over time. Below is a breakdown that you can follow for Instagram or any marketing platform really.
Step 1: Just start posting
Mary started with flows of her own yoga practice. She began showing what she was working on and seeing what her audience was paying attention too. Previously on her Instagram account she was sharing personal and life things but she slowly shifted to a yoga focus by sharing her flows.
Step 2: Adjust based on addressing a problem
Mary asked: “How can I help my student a little bit better?” and allowed that to be her guide throughout this process. She looked at others for inspiration and listened to what her students were asking for in person to help her guide her online content.
Step 3: Try new things
Don’t be afraid to try something new and see if it works. You want to stay consistent with posting but it’s best if you can try many different types of content to see what resonates with your audience the most.
Step 4: Ask questions from your audience
When students ask questions, answer them. If you don’t know the answer, research it and figure it out. Do the homework for your students and serve them.
Step 5: Commit to your posting plan and stick to it!
The key to growing an online yoga business is consistency with your content. Set a realistic posting pattern for you and stick with it. Commit to the process and know that you will have days when you don’t want to do it but you need to keep going if you want to grow your yoga business.
“To this day I do my very best to respond to every single DM, every single comment. And I will continue to do that for as long as I can, to the best of my ability. Especially when people have questions.” - Mary
Consistency Wins Every Day
Mary shares that when she decided to go all-in and take her yoga business online, full time that she committed to sharing a video or image tutorial every day of the week. This is a lot so you don’t have to start there but she had saved up money so she was able to quit her full time job and posting to Instagram was now her full time job. She committed!
When it comes to building an online yoga business, you have to know that consistency matters more than anything and it’s a numbers game.
“For example, if you put out 30 videos in a month, one might skyrocket. That means that 29 of your videos didn’t skyrocket. So if it takes you a year to create 29 videos, that means one of them might do really well. I’m just throwing out random numbers there but being consistent is huge.” - Mary
And yes, there will be days that you miss a post but the key is to not let that derail you. Pick it back up the next day.
Mary and I also talked about batching or pre-recording videos versus recording and posting daily. If you follow me at all, you know I batch all my content. I record several podcast episodes at time, I record all my YouTube videos for the month in one day, and it works for me. So my mind was blown when Mary said that she didn’t batch her videos! I was shocked at the volume of content she produces and the fact that she does this each day. But it works for her and that’s what matters. Finding what works for you is the key to creating consistent content online! You have to figure out what works for you and then run with it.
“I have tried it both ways and have found for me that it’s better for me to create when I’m inspired in the moment.” - Mary
The key is finding a rhythm that works for you and you can stay consistent with. Try different methods to see what works best for you and then stick with that. Don’t try and do something just because someone else does it. Try it, see if it works for you and then try something else.
Regardless if you’re a content batcher or not, having a list of ideas is always a good idea because you won’t feel creative every day. You always want to have a list of ideas at your fingertips so you can pull from that on days when you aren’t feeling inspired to create a specific tutorial. Mary suggests looking first for comments or questions from student but also looking back at what has been helpful for students. What videos had more engagement? You can elaborate on that same idea or create something similar. Don’t be afraid to repurpose or cover the same idea many times.
An Abundance Over Scarcity Mindset Is Critical
When you take your yoga online, there are some things that tend to creep in when it comes to mindset. One is that you will have people who comment and love what you’re doing but others who don’t love what you’re doing. And so often we see negative comments and they stick with us. When this starts to happen, remember that you aren’t for every student, but you ARE the best teacher for other students. Focus on who you are connecting with and serving and do your best to focus on the positive comments and when it’s possible, take the negative or constructive comments to make your content better.
Another thing that typically comes up when you’re building your online business is that of competition. You will likely see other yoga teachers doing things on social media and think “they are doing it better than me”. Do your best to capture that thought and reframe it to be positive. Recognize and celebrate their great work and use it as inspiration for what you’re doing and how you can serve your yoga students. Allow it to fuel you instead of derail you.
Mary also mentioned that the more online content you create and the bigger your name gets, the more you will see others ‘copy’ what you’re doing. They will create something similar and this is easy to get upset about but instead of getting upset, you can see it as a compliment.
“Instead of feeling jealous, or ‘how dare they copy me’. Let them do their thing because the fact is, if someone’s copying you or if someone’s using your material or whatever, think of it as flattery. You are influencing other people to do things the way you do them and that should speak volumes to what content you’re creating. That means you’re on to something!” - Mary
From Instagram to an App
Mary was impacted in her personal life by online yoga through a 30 day challenge and a year-long challenge related to yoga. These experiences led her to create the business that she has today.
“I wanted to create an app that was accessible to everyone and encouraged people to practice as often as possible.” - Mary
What started as 8 free classes on the app has now grown to several different sections of yoga practices:
Morning and evening
Strength and balance
Plus challenges! She knew she wanted to incorporate challenges because they were so influential in her life.
Her app was free for a year before she opened the monthly subscription model. It was all sweat and tears for a year as she built the app and community before it became a revenue stream. Mary is using technology for good and positivity! She knew her goal was to help people have a yoga practice.
Your next step
Share some love on Instagram! Tag Mary and I in an Instagram story so we can celebrate you using Instagram to spread positivity. We can’t wait to connect with you in the DMs and share your story!
About Mary Ochsner
Mary is a yoga teacher from Michigan. She creates fun yoga tutorials on instagram to help people start their own yoga practice! It's her goal to get more people practicing yoga and to help them laugh and have fun along the way.
Mary Ochsner Yoga App; iOS Link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mary-ochsner-yoga/id1450832793
Mary Ochsner Yoga App; Android Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.breakthroughapps.MaryOchsnerYoga.android&hl=en_US
Mary's Website: www.maryochsner.com
Free trainings to help you market your yoga:
Did you know that there are TONS of free trainings on my website. If you're struggling to fill your classes, niche down, or market your workshops, then check these out! They were created to help you. And if you wish there was a training on something else, email me and let me know at: email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!