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In 2020, when the world shut down for what I like to call “the Apocalypse,” yoga studios, yoga teachers, and practitioners all over the world gathered online to do what humans do best: adapt.
With trial and error, and immense amounts of patience from all parts involved, the way in which millions practiced yoga shifted to the virtual world.
For me, and I am sure for many others, it was a bit different. From the beginning of my yoga journey, practicing online had been a foundational pillar.
I began practicing both meditation and yoga somewhat regularly after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness—not because I wanted to look cute in my branded yoga gear, but because I felt like I was falling fast and had heard that perhaps this yoga stuff would catch me and bounce me back up.
I was living in rural Kentucky at the time, and I was in the middle of rearranging my life after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
I felt sick, tired, and scared, and going to a yoga studio while not knowing how I would feel from one moment to the next didn’t seem very appealing at the time.
Thankfully, as a good millennial, I quickly turned to search the depths of the internet until I came across an online studio that I felt comfortable trying out.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I have taken and taught many yoga classes, workshops, retreats, and other events both in person and online since then, and personally, my favourite way to practice is from my comfy home—online.
Even though in-studio classes and events are back in full swing in many places across the planet, and being in person and in community is incredibly soul-filling and important, there is still immense value in practicing yoga online—and many reasons why practicing virtually is another way of bringing more accessibility, inclusivity, and diversity to yoga and the wellness world.
Here are five reasons why you should give online yoga a try:
1. Practice from Anywhere
One of the main reasons why practicing online is more accessible is because we can practice from wherever we’d like.
Yes, we can practice with our teachers and our community from anywhere in the world when we’re traveling. But it also means we can practice sitting on our bed when we’re not feeling well.
And we also have more control of the environment since we get to choose where we practice and what and who is around when we do, which is vital to many folks. Practicing online provides privacy.
So, choose the temperature you like. Burn some incense. Play your favourite music. It’s your choice.
2. Choose your Length
Another great advantage of practicing yoga virtually is the ability to choose how long we want to practice for.
Many online platforms are filled with classes that go from five minutes to over an hour, so choosing a length that fits our schedule is part of the design. The variety of classes we can find online will not only make the practice of yoga adaptable to our schedule, but also to our energy and our capacity to move, breathe, and be present at any given moment.
If we’re practicing with a recording, we can also pause the video any time we need, giving us more autonomy and perhaps allowing us to stay longer in a pose that feels good, or maybe taking a little break if we feel tired.
3. Variety at your Grasp
One of the things I enjoy most about practicing online is the access it gives me to variety.
When the pandemic began, some of my favourite yoga teachers in Europe and Asia began to offer virtual classes, workshops, trainings, and even retreats, and it gave me the chance to practice and learn from them from my own home, without the expense and the availability requirements of travel.
Doing yoga online also gives us the ability to choose from a wide range of styles of yoga: from yin to vinyasa, meditation, kriyas, mantra, philosophy lectures, and kirtan sessions.
4. At your Convenience
As a yoga teacher myself, I oftentimes practice by simply following my intuition without any guidance, but many yoga practitioners would rather have a teacher supporting and guiding their practice.
Another advantage of practicing online is the flexibility of being able to practice live or on demand.
There are many teachers and studios that offer hybrid classes, which create a cool synergy between the students live in the studio and those practicing from home. However, that still requires certain availability, because classes are when they are.
If we need even more flexibility, consider checking out streaming services, which offer a lot of the options mentioned above: classes on demand, and a wide variety of styles, teachers, and lengths of classes.
5. Find your Community
Depending on many factors, we may have an easier or harder time finding a space we feel comfortable in, a yoga class where we feel like the teacher and the students embrace us, a space where we truly connect.
The virtual world has made it a bit easier for those of us who don’t fit the normative profile of a “yogi” to either find or create spaces for us, by us. We can find specialty spaces for BIPOC, or for people with a specific chronic illness, or even for people who speak our mother tongue, as small of a community as it may be.
Practicing yoga online gives us global access to teachers, yogis, practices, and communities that we can connect with. We can find a yoga family that is more specific to our needs, as the accessibility and adaptability of online yoga is unparalleled.
If you’re wondering where to start, just as with anything, first ask why you want to practice online. Perhaps you resonated with some or all the things mentioned in this article.
Then, take the time to shop around; many online studios offer new student packages that will give you a chance to get a feel for their style, their values, their teaching method, and their community vibe.
And just like you would in person, don’t settle for less than what feels right!
This is your practice and you should find an online space that is accessible, inclusive, and supports all its members in their yoga journey.
Not every online studio, not every teacher, not every community will be the right fit for you, so be patient—the right class for you is out there.
Here are a few online studios to try that aren’t the mainstream ones we usually hear about:
1. Ekhart Yoga (streaming and live, subscription based)
2. Afro Yoga by Angie (streaming and live, subscription based)
3. Elevate by Faith Hunter (streaming and live, subscription based)
4. The Fat Yogis (streaming, subscription based)
5. Accessible Yoga School (online workshops and trainings)
Whether we choose to practice with free YouTube videos or join a virtual studio or community, whether we practice in our office, have a dedicated yoga space, or practice on our bed, online yoga can truly help us create a more sustainable yoga practice.
Consider what it is that would support your yoga journey, explore a few options, and see how it goes.
Happy practicing, friends!