June 25, 2013

Yoga Classes Online: What Works.

 * elephant journal received this item for free, in return for a guarantee to review it. Having said that, the author says what she wants—good and bad, happy and sad.

Need a Home Yoga Practice? Yoga Download Review.

I decided to try starting a home yoga practice earlier this year after a surgery left me unable to practice regularly at the yoga studio. At the time I began online classes offered by Yoga Download, I had done some videos on my own and had recently joined a different yoga streaming site.

One reason I’ve never had a home practice is because whenever I did yoga at home, I didn’t feel like I had done yoga. My muscles weren’t stretched, my mind wasn’t clear. Many of the classes I did left me feeling like I should have gotten my lazy butt to the studio instead. So, I was hopeful the classes on Yoga Download would offer the same vigor and awareness as the studio.

The first class I completed was the Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga 4 by Dave Farmar. I’ve taken Farmar’s classes in person before, and knew I could expect a good workout. This one was no exception. It’s described as an all levels class with a “You’ll Feel It” intensity level.

It was a challenging class and I did “feel” it. I also felt great after. Farmar is an excellent teacher with his own motivational style. Throughout the class he spoke about “embodying yes,” an idea that kept me holding a pose when I wanted to back out. Though it was a good class, I admit I skipped a few chatarungas, as the pace was too fast at times. Because of this, I’m not sure it should have been classified as an all levels class.

As I found later in my exploration of the site, many of the videos don’t offer the scenic, beach/forest picturesque backgrounds so often found in videos on other yoga sites. The majority of the classes I took had only a white background. At times, I appreciated the cleanliness and the simplicity of these videos, but other times it felt sterile. Adding to that sense of sterility was the fact that many of the classes featured the instruction as a voice over, rather than as a live demo from the teacher.

I also struggled with the camera angles in some of the videos. The angle was straight on the demonstrating yogis rather than at a side view. This wasn’t a huge problem for me, as I mostly listened to the cues as they came, but this may be a struggle for beginners and those without much experience with the poses. Not all of the classes were like this, however.

Les Leventhal’s “Bundle 1” for example, offered better visuals and the poses were more easily seen. But like Farmar’s class, I’m not sure it was an all levels class as stated in the description.

The instructor used a lot of Sanskrit and didn’t walk through poses step by step until later in the class. I would have had a hard time with the flow if I were a beginner and unfamiliar with the poses. For more seasoned yogis however, the class offered great opening for the hips and hamstrings.

As I went through the classes it seemed each had its own pros and cons. Roger Martin-Pressman’s “Do It Yourself” was probably the most useful class, as it offered a lot of focus on alignment and gave lots of instruction. Additionally, the class offered insights into what it means to support oneself and how to foster that kind of connection.

There seemed to be a little bit of everything for everyone. Most classes had things I liked and things I didn’t—as is true of many classes we take at the studio.

In the end, I found myself back at the studio, mainly because I needed to be in a room, locked away from my cat, my phone and all distractions. The online classes gave me a good workout at times, but ultimately I missed the community of the studio and space to practice freely (minus coffee tables and doorknobs).




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Ed: B. Bemel
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