2020 was a year that changed the world as we knew it. When it came to yoga, I’d started the year just as I’d always known it—beside friends and acquaintances under the heatlamps of the hot yoga studio and amidst the watchful eye of my teacher. That all changed however, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I learned the power of virtual online yoga.
I remember the day I made the decision to forego my in-person classes to roll out my mat on our patio and attempt to recreate some version of the yoga I once knew. I’d spent so much time obsessing about how awful I perceived it was going to be that I forgot to consider that this might open up a world of opportunity.
Getting Started with Online Yoga
So, if you haven’t yet considered online yoga as an option—what better time than in the middle of a global pandemic? But really—there are lot’s of conveniences and opportunities that await on the other side of your technology, are you ready? But before you get started—here are 5 things you need to know:
1. Select a Class That is Right For You
This seems like it would go without saying, but the class type especially for beginner yogis is everything. If you’re someone looking for lots of movement, selecting a Yin yoga class probably isn’t the best place to start. Perhaps you’re looking for something a little more beginner, selecting a Power Vinyasa class also might not be the best idea. When selecting a class to start, it is important to consider a few things:
- Will the online yoga class be live streaming or recorded?
- If the class is live streaming, will I be able to interact with the teacher?
- What type of class will be best for my routine?
- How much am I willing to pay for the class?
All of these questions are great places to start. Personally, an online yoga class streaming live holds me both more accountable and less likely to be distracted by outside stressors (my dogs, work, etc). I also did a lot of research to understand which class worked best for me on that particular day. A power yoga class might not be the best idea for those looking for something less intensive.
Yoga classes can range in pricing—anything from free to upwards of $30. In my personal opinion, yoga should be available and accessible to all—so there are very rare occurrences where I’m willing to pay top dollar for class. With lots of available recorded yoga online for no cost, consider your options before going into your next class. Often, paying a small fee helps both the yoga instructor and your own personal yoga journey. You’re more likely to get more from a class where you’re able to interact with an instructor.
2. Keep Your Camera Turned On…No One is Watching
I find that many of my students often grapple with the idea of turning on a camera. To many, I believe, turning on the camera can be a very difficult challenge to overcome and a lesson in self confidence. We worry about who “might” be watching and what they might be thinking of our practice. The truth is—they’re too busy worrying about their own practice to care. …and even then, most of the time, you’re taking class with absolute strangers that in many cases, you might not ever see again.
If you can get past the crippling idea of turning on your camera—I promise, there are some amazing benefits. As an online yoga teacher, the camera is my only lens into knowing how my students are feeling and doing in their class. Without a camera—I’m truly flying blind. I’ve taken many classes where the yoga instructor was even able to offer modifications or suggestions to improve my practice—something I missed about taking class in-person.
So, stop thinking about what others will think, and start thinking about how turning on your camera could help you improve your practice in more ways than one.
3. Find a Quiet Space and Make it Your Own
I mean this one. Although it may be challenging to find a quiet space, having a safe place to go practice is essential. For me, my patio is my spot to let it all out—there are often distractions of cars, airplanes, neighbors, or nature sounds but yoga is all about mindfulness so quiet doesn’t have to just mean sound. Quiet, to you, could mean finding a spot without distraction.
For example, quiet, for me, means that I find a space where I don’t think about work—of any kind. I’m free of things that pull my attention from the present moment. Although there are certainly classes where quiet literally means stop talking—we have to accept that that isn’t always possible. I challenge you to give yourself space, set the stage by talking it out with others and communicate what you need for a successful class. If you find it challenging to get into your moment—consider alternative spaces, music, or having those difficult conversations that you just need time alone.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
This was something that took some time for me to learn. Unlike in the in-person yoga classes, online yoga challenged me in new ways. I wasn’t in the studio under the watchful eye of my teacher. I had to take my own risks and rely on my own internal self-talk to push myself in times where I really wasn’t sure.
Pre-COVID, I had friends that cheered me on when attempting a handstand or new inversion. I’d also have the teacher watching and able to demonstrate her own suggestions for improvement. Now, communication was shorter, less in-formal, and more abrupt. This is where using my camera came in extra handy. I’d made the pact with myself to keep the camera on, and as a result, have received lots of helpful feedback from my teachers online. I’ve also made friends all over the country that I am still able to connect with.
With the new online platform, I’d also expanded my knowledge of classes, teaching styles, and more. Prior to the pandemic, I’d been limited to my experience in my local area and those that taught within it. Now, I was taking a variety of class styles from teachers all over the world. Taking risks can be a challenge, but there’s no better way to grow than to take a step outside of your comfort zone.
5. Online Yoga is What You Make of It
If I told you that every yoga class I’ve taken since the start of the pandemic began was perfect…I‘d be lying. Not every online yoga class you take will meet your every need. The sooner you find acceptance in that, the better your class experience will be. For me, I try to take every new class or style as an opportunity to grow and learn from the experience.
For example, I may not particularly like a specific teaching style, or in some cases, don’t particularly connect with a teacher. Sometimes, I have difficulty with the challenges we face in a virtual setting. Maybe the sound quality isn’t up to par, the camera isn’t working, or sometimes—I’ve shown up to an empty class.
Choosing to focus on the positive and find ways to take each experience as a unique opportunity to grow as a student will provide you with the best possible outcomes. A great online yoga class should include:
- The ability for a teacher to clearly communicate with students (Great sound quality)
- The ability for students to clearly communicate their needs (Communication settings turned on for students)
- The opportunity for teachers to be seen visually and for the opportunity for students to be seen by the teacher if they wish to do so (Great camera quality)
- An attentive teacher:
- Is the teacher teaching both in-person and online?
- How often is the teacher checking in on the virtual students versus the in-person class?
- Are virtual students able to get the attention of the teacher if needed?
Online Yoga is for Everyone
As someone that has experienced firsthand the benefits and impact that yoga has made on my life, I firmly believe that yoga should be available to all. Availability, to me, means providing those that may not be able to access yoga in-person to have the same opportunities offered online. For this reason, I began teaching yoga classes online at no-cost to those near and far. As a student of yoga myself, I know the power and impact that a great online yoga class can have for a student. I encourage you to join me on my mat sometime soon to see for yourself!