'I hope yoga stays as part of people's daily routine and not just something for the pandemic'

Xuan Lan in the Museo de Arte Contempóraneo Barcelona.
Xuan Lan in the Museo de Arte Contempóraneo Barcelona. / Rubén Soler
  • Xuan Lan's online sessions brought yoga into the homes of many during the most difficult periods of the lockdown

The 'Om' and the three 'shanti' with which she ends her classes have become the mantra of the lockdown. Xuan Lan, born in Paris to Vietnamese parents and living in Barcelona, left her office job in the banking sector to dedicate herself to teaching yoga.

She is already well-known in Spain and has demonstrated that this discipline can be practised online. Throughout the quarantine her classes have served as a balm for thousands of people who not only found yoga asanas a way to exercise but also as a way to alleviate the stress caused by the unusual situation.

Her tone of voice, her humility, her closeness - "I am not searching, it's just the way I am" - and her way of transmitting this philosophy of life has passed through the doors of thousands of homes across the world closed by the pandemic, among them Malaga residents who have started or become more involved in yoga through Xuan Lan.

Are you aware that thousands of people have become hooked on yoga during lockdown thanks to your social networking sites?

It was an initiative that I started just a few days before lockdown started. At first, I didn't intend to do live classes every day, but given the response of the people and the messages I received, I decided to do so. In the front line of fire were health workers, but I thought that as a yoga teacher I could also help from home in another way. When I realised that the online classes were starting to get such a large audience I said: I'm not going to stop until we come out of lock down, and so I did so for ten weeks. I have entered the lives of many people and their families, for me it was so nice to be able to do it, so important to be able to help.

It must have been a challenge at a professional level.

Yes, it has. To create classes every day, to be prepared and punctual, with what it entails at a technological level, and to put oneself in front of a camera. Although I was used to it, I hadn't done so many live classes before... more recorded tutorials. I hope that yoga is not just an anti-Covid pill, and that with the return to a certain normality people will continue to practise and enjoy it.

On YouTube it brought together 12,000 people in one class and on Instagram 7,000. What did you think when you saw those figures on the screen?

I was impressed, but it also gives you a boost of energy to know that what you're doing is helping, is interesting and serves people. You're so excited, it's like receiving a gift. It was my intention to create a healthy-living routine every day at six-thirty in the evening and I succeeded.

How do you think yoga helps in a situation like the one we are currently going through?

We are facing a very hard emotional time and thanks to yoga we have the tools to calm down, to return to a state of balance, of harmony, so that we do not let ourselves be carried away by fear, stress or anguish. Yoga is a discipline of prevention, of maintaining good mental and physical health, and I advise those who have noticed some benefit, a sense of wellbeing with yoga during confinement, to integrate it into their daily lives and not wait for the next crisis to come along. This way you will be prepared.

Could it be said then that this period of quarantine has confirmed that it is possible to teach yoga online?

In my case, I have a lot of experience teaching students yoga, face to face - I don't just do online classes. I don't just talk to the camera but to the people that are there at the moment or are going to watch the videos later. I know what common mistakes students make, the doubts they may have, and I understand that it is even more difficult when they are alone and at home, without the teacher there to watch and correct them. I think that there is a big difference between an online yoga teacher and someone who postures on social networks. The methodology is very important, the rythmn, the way of connecting with people so that they understand the instructions and that they also understand that they have to listen to their bodies. I'm not here to give orders; I don't want people at home try to do too much and hurt themselves. Bodies are sometimes not ready for certain things.

Your passion for yoga led you to launch an ambitious project just as lockdown was coming to an end.

It has been five months of hard work, remotely because of the quarantine, but I am very proud because it has gone very well. Studio Online is a tool that helps people to maintain a relationship with yoga in an easy way through a platform and a mobile application. For me, it's like the Netflix of yoga in which you have different themes, you can store favourites, use filters... and through the app you have the option of offline downloads to practise yoga wherever you want without having to connect to the internet. It's a project that offers people new tools and quality content, in which I add three new videos every week, as well as workshops, webinars, live shows, series like Ashtanga Yoga... Now I'm preparing new projects for the Online Studio after the holidays focused on people discovering new facets of yoga. And I keep publishing on Youtube every week.