This week I start teaching my first yoga class, yet in all my training, I have never actually taken a yoga class.
How is that possible? How can someone learn yoga without yoga classes? It’s simple. I am a YouTube Yogi: everything I know about yoga I learned from the comfort of my living room.
I live in the middle of nowhere. We have a small grocery store, a post office, a couple of bars, and a few liquor stores. That’s it. We don’t have a place to buy makeup or pantyhose, let alone a yoga studio. Hence my inability to take yoga classes and my desire to fill that void by teaching them.
My journey into yoga started like many young ladies preoccupied with body image. When my days of being a bikini competitor got the better of me and my body needed a break from high intensity exercise, I searched YouTube for yoga classes. I was shocked by the quality of instruction and the sheer volume of videos to choose from: Kino MacGregor, Lesley Fightmaster, Tim Senesi, Yoga with Adriene—such amazing instruction, and entirely free! It was not long before I was addicted to the mat.
Yoga slowly brought me to a place where body image mattered less and health mattered more. While I always wanted the challenge of mastering a new pose, yoga taught me to not be competitive with myself and to just accept what I was capable of doing on a daily basis. It was life changing. I was so strong and healthy and empowered by yoga that I was able to continue practicing throughout my first pregnancy and now again in my second. My one-year-old even has her own mat and practices with me every day!
I knew that my little community would benefit from yoga and that’s why I decided to do teacher training. To my surprise, despite never having taken a real yoga class, I was not the least experienced, least flexible, least fit, or least knowledgeable person at teacher training (as I had feared). In fact, I aced all my exams and was more than qualified by my YouTube home practice. But even if I had been all those things, it wouldn’t have mattered because yoga is for everybody and anybody, even those who have never stepped foot in a studio.
Teacher training is now complete and I will soon be teaching my own students, yet I still rely on YouTube to be my faithful guru. I may not get personal, hands-on instruction or individualized cues, but YouTube yoga teachers have given me invaluable training for my home practice, for becoming a teacher, and for my life in general. I am forever grateful.
So for anyone wanting to try yoga for the first time at home or for a seasoned studio member wanting to incorporate a home practice into their routine, here are my five tips for creating an awesome YouTube yoga home practice:
1. Set a lesson time.
Treat home practice as if it were a paid lesson at a studio. Schedule it into the day and let the chores wait. Perhaps even schedule watching a particular teacher on a particular day so it really feels like going to a class at the studio (minus the traffic, time constraints, crowded classroom, loud air conditioning, and that smelly grunting guy in the corner).
2. Add variety.
The beauty of YouTube is that it contains thousands of different yoga instructional videos, and new content is added daily. Try a new style of yoga, watch two short videos instead of one long one, or incorporate some ab exercises. There is so much content on YouTube, so explore and enjoy!
3. Switch teachers.
Unlike at the studio, YouTube yoga gives us the ability to keep scrolling through teachers until one resonates. So, if there is a pose that has been challenging, just search for, “How to do pose xyz” and keep trying different teachers until someone says something that clicks. Often it just takes one good cue to nail that asana (yoga pose).
4. Stay balanced.
It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to perfect an asana to the point of neglecting a holistic practice. I was so intent on learning bakasana (crow pose) before I was ready that I gave myself carpel tunnel syndrome; I was focused on the pose rather than on enjoying the journey of achieving it. YouTube gives the power to pause and rewind, but don’t abuse it. Try something three times than move on for the day.
5. Don’t skip meditation.
Due to length restrictions, many YouTube videos have to stop at savasana (corpse pose) and just instruct the viewer to do it on their own. Do it on your own! Don’t skip it simply because the video ends. The whole point of doing yoga is to clear the mind and make the body strong for meditation. After all, savasana is the most important pose.
Namaste, my fellow YouTube Yogis!
Author: Sophia Carlson
Editor: Travis May