Yoga’s not exercise.
You can’t “do” yoga.
Yoga has nothing to do with breaking a sweat.
Yoga is…blah, blah, blah.
I completely get the above statements, which I’ve repeatedly heard within yoga circles; yet, here’s the thing: I came to yoga as practically a child because it made my body feel good.
My first experience with vinyasa yoga was through Kristin McGee’s MTV yoga DVD series (and I’ve talked with several instructors who were indoctrinated this same way). Point: it’s okay to come to yoga because you want to sweat, tone, strengthen and stretch. What’s not okay? Judging yogis for admitting this. Let me tell you why.
Yes, I came to yoga for the workout—initially. Then, as my practice evolved, I, well… I evolved too.
I discovered literature, teachers and practices that had nothing to do with exercise and… do I really have to repeat the aforementioned thoughts?
Anyway, here’s the bottom line: many people do move past seeing “doing yoga” as a morning exercise routine, but even if they don’t (and you have) it doesn’t make anyone better than another. (Read Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras if you haven’t; you know, non-judgment and all.)
And while I admittedly have changed my original “yoga” definition, I still like to sweat, tone, strengthen, etc, etc—because creating a healthy body is a useful tool toward creating a healthier mind. The ancient yogis knew this, which is essentially why asana was developed.
They discovered that their meditation practices were more effective after working their bodies, creating suppleness through the hips and strength along the spine for them to more productively sit for longer stretches of time (no pun intended).
So, yes, I absolutely love to sweat during my physical yoga practice—and I make no apologies there—but I also adore Yoga Nidra, restorative, Yin and nearly all yoga styles. I just love the practice, period. I often call myself a yoga chameleon—a yoga chameleon who can frequently be found practicing to free podcasts at home.
I’ll break this list down, with the first half being geared towards sweating, working and flowing and the second for those days where you want to take it down a notch—or several—and just yawn through your body and breathe.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of my favorite (free) yoga practice podcasts, for those of you who want to break a sweat without breaking the bank.
1. Anything Jason Crandell.
He’s the man. This particular podcast might not be quite so sweaty, but his detail to alignment and his original sequencing are perfect for yogis trying to shift to some home practice time—and his queuing will also help you to improve your postures for when do head back to the studio.
2. Alexandria Crow is pretty bad-ass.
This short sequence will strengthen areas of your hips and core that many classes miss.
3. Kathryn Budig just might be the yoga-core queen.
Yoga isn’t about a strong core? Whatever. Play around with this 20-minute podcast and tell me you don’t have more energy and stamina to more-effectively practice your real yoga throughout the rest of your day.
4. Doesn’t nearly everyone have a crush on Shiva Rea?
Oh, you’ve never experienced her almost primal, seductive vinyasa flow sequences? Well, here you go.
5. Yep, Alexandria Crow again.
She’s on this list twice because her podcasts are ideal for a serious home sweat. Try this one…
And podcasts for your calmer days:
1. Seane Corn because Seane is the skilled and the gorgeous yogi next door.
2. Baron Baptiste.
If you practice at a hot Baptiste-style studio like I do, then you might be surprised to discover that his podcast is at the top of my list when I feel a little lazy and low-key. Check it out.
3. Hip enough.
Obviously, I gravitate towards Yoga Journal podcast, in part because they’re free and mostly because of the quality. This is one of my absolute favorites.
4. Lilias, Yoga and You.
Okay, so I mentioned earlier that I learned yoga as a virtual child. While Kristin was my vinyasa introduction, she wasn’t my first yoga experience ever. The truth is, I was 14 going on 15 and I watched Lilias Folan on PBS. Then I bought her tapes (for real! video tapes!). She still amazes me.
5. Okay, Jason Crandell gets listed twice as well.
This podcast is short, simple and essentially perfect for a great night’s sleep.
I hope you enjoy these podcasts as much I do. One of the main reasons that I like them so much is they’re all relatively short—meaning lack of time will no longer be a good excuse.
On the other hand, I’ve been known to string these and others together for more intense 75-minute sessions. This allows you to really custom-design your home practice.
Do you have other free videos that you regularly practice along with? Share them below in the comments section.
Bonus: Yoga Nidra audio meditation.
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Ed: Sara Crolick