December 14, 2013

7 Reasons to try Online Yoga Classes.

Why we should connect with the virtual yoga community.

This question was posed to me recently: why are people so concerned with the latest online class controversy, when much of yoga has nothing to do with the body? 

I’d like to say that this is a valid concern, but I can’t, because I don’t think it is since, for starters, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that part of being a yogi—and a person—is a physical experience.

And when we get on a high horse about how we don’t technically “need” physical movement to experience yoga we get into a realm of ideology that doesn’t pertain to real life anymore.

More, we forget that we love our physical yoga experience because we are human (i.e. often stuck in our heads and not witnessing “real” yoga) and that it’s okay to like it—and that many, many others do as well.

Actually, I finally discovered what yoga truly is after I’d begun consistently moving my body from pose to pose—and I know I’m not alone in this. After all, the physical aspect of practice is honed to prepare the mind and body for meditation and inner growth—and an ideal yoga practice is cultivated through patient consistency, not occasional, weekend-warrior force.

Fortunately and unfortunately, though, we all have daily requirements that take us in directions that may or may not allow us to visit a guided studio class—which is where the virtual yoga community steps in.

There are so many reasons why people would want to practice yoga at home, and not just by themselves, but along with an online class or podcast.

Here are a few:

1) They live in a remote area.

I first began practicing vinyasa yoga and practicing yoga regularly—having a physical practice most days of the week—when I lived, essentially, in the middle of nowhere.

At the time—back in the stone age—“online” was still rather unheard of, so I used dvd classes instead. I can’t say how grateful I am to have had that opportunity—to learn from hard-to-reach teachers and experience unique flow sequences—even if it our relationships were forged through a television screen.

2) Travel.

Another thing I’ve gone through in my life, and in my practice, is traveling most days of the week.

This, too, was b.c. (before children), but at this point I was already a certified yoga teacher who taught at two local facilities—when I was at home—and who continued to practice daily.

And when I wasn’t at home? Well, I was known for breaking out the hotel towel (as I often didn’t have room to bring my mat), and opening up the laptop.

3) A.C.—after children.

I called off my 6 am yoga class because I was in labor with my daughter—meaning I was teaching (a lot) and I was practicing (a lot).

When my daughter was born I  could hardly wait to get back onto my mat. (Although, admittedly, it wasn’t the same as before—it was better.) I digress.

Regardless, I wasn’t going to leave my newborn, so I practiced at home.

Of course I love my own flows and my own music (or silence), but as an exhausted mama, it was awesome to turn my brain off completely—and turn on an online class.

4) We teach.

One of the saddest things that I frequently hear from other yoga teachers is that they have no home practice—at all. None. The reason? They’re often tired of making up sequences—even their own—so they just go to a class if they want to practice—or they skip it.

Let’s get this clear: I’m all for practicing at the studio. For one, it builds community and, additionally, all of us need alignment cues and encouragement. However, practicing at home…there’s just nothing like it.

We are able to be fully inside of our own presence and our own space—and our own needs—when we practice solo. On top of this, we can practice a style that varies from our own or the studios around us, and we can play without anyone watching—which, trust me, is nice.

So if you don’t want to always go with your own flow—and there are a lot of us who can relate, at least from time to time—thankfully, we can plug into a teacher via podcast.

5) We’re sick.

Being sick stinks, but being sick doesn’t always mean having to shut down the physical practice.

On the other hand, our mat neighbors might not appreciate someone sniffling and sneezing at them—and we might want to take it down a notch…or two…or three.

Many things are made more challenging with head colds and being clear-headed is, not shockingly, one of them—which makes this an ideal time to get a gentle flow or restorative session turned on (on your computer).

6) We want to pick up new ideas for our own classes.

Okay, this is a little bit different than the “because we teach” from #4, in that practicing at home is often how great classes come about.

I’ve written before about how it’s obvious when teachers have a home practice and when they don’t.

One reason is that some of my favorite classes—from a student’s perspective—are those where unexpected poses mesh together—blending perfectly—and they just feel like a total-body yawn. I can absolutely tell that the teacher has felt this in his or her own body. (And I know/haven’t been to another class recently that had this same vinyasa set or, better, I recognize the thumbprint of a familiar podcast.)

There are so many talented online teachers that give new ways to explain something to students and who offer posture variations we might never have thought of if left to our own devices—and that’s just another reason to turn on one of your devices.

7) Practicing with amazing teachers.

I’ve practiced with some of the best out there—Alexandria Crow, Jason Crandell, and Baron Baptiste—to name a few. Yet here’s the thing: I haven’t practiced with them in real life.

Yep, I worked my asanas with them online—thank goodness.

Honestly, this is a mere sampling of why people would want to take an online class or use a podcast.

And one of the most basic answers to the why online yoga classes question is…why not?

>Bonus: check out the 10 best and (ahem) free podcasts—ever—here.


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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant journal photo archive

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