Online classes are not always given the respect they deserve. While they have plenty of differences than in-person classes, they nonetheless offer room for growth.
My first experience with yoga did not happen in a studio or group setting. It happened with a Power Yoga DVD that I picked up from the store. Eventually I started going to a studio, but practicing yoga by myself with a DVD was my first step. Since then, I have enjoyed the wide variety of online classes available to explore other yoga styles and teachers.
In every yoga class, online or in person, you learn something new. It ranges from the external, such as a pose cued by the instructor, to the internal, such as building self-awareness. I have been practicing yoga for nine years, and continue to learn new things from every teacher and class I attend.
Online platforms bring the teachers, classes and learning experiences to you- you just need to be ready for them.
Here are 5 ways online classes enrich you’re your yoga practice
1. The social stress of class is reduced
Yoga classes come with subtle social stresses, including the sometimes-awkward wait time before class, the unnecessary but common tendency to compare you body and yoga poses with fellow classmates, and the need to push beyond your limits to “show off” or overextend your body to impress others. Many of these stresses are so subtle that you may not notice them. But sometimes they are enough to inform your decision of attending or not attending class. Online classes remove this social stress and provide a comfortable platform to explore yoga at your pace in your own space. For many, online courses may be their first introduction to a yoga practice!
2.You build awareness
Going to a physical class has many benefits. Being around others is energizing, and a teacher can help provide personal adjustments to explore yoga postures. Online classes flip this, requiring you to have good self-awareness to explore postures and generate your own adjustments. Online yoga classes require you to build awareness of your body, what it needs, and your ability that day. Building this self-awareness is valuable to your practice on and off the mat.
3. Online classes are always open
In a busy world, fitting your practice in can be tough. It is great if you have a schedule going that offers regular opportunities to practice yoga, but life can throw you challenges that make a regular practice difficult. Online yoga classes offer yoga any time and anywhere, allowing you to fit it in when you are able. There are also more choices for class lengths online. Only have 20 minutes? Not a problem when picking a class online. Want to do yoga at 5 AM? How about Midnight? Great! Switch on your computer and get to class!
4. A myriad of teaching and yoga styles are available to explore
Yoga practices change and shift with what you need in your life. When I first started practicing yoga, I was into vigorous styles. I started by practicing Power and Forrest Yoga, and eventually explored Hatha and Kundalini. Dabbling in online classes can help you explore yoga styles and teachers- each different and offering something new to learn. Part of practicing yoga is being comfortable with it, and online classes give you a taster of a teacher and style. If you like it, you can find a yoga studio. If not, you can keep exploring. I’m now exploring meditation and pranayama with online classes.
5. Online classes make yoga accessible financially and geographically
Online classes make yoga accessible financially and spatially. Yoga can be pricey, and online classes are often more affordable than studio classes. More yoga for less money can be great for your wallet and your practice. Online classes help connect teachers and yoga styles to students and remove spatial boundaries by being digitally accessible. Some places have a lot of yoga studios, allowing you to explore and find one that works for you. Other places are yoga deserts- no yoga is available, so online is an excellent option and tool to have a consistent and powerful yoga practice.
Online classes adapt to you, and are a great way to explore and experience yoga. They are obviously different from in-person classes, but can be a great way to practice or supplement practicing in a studio.
By Laura Heggs
Laura is an anthropologist and 500-hour RYT based in Norwich, UK.
We'd love to hear how have online classes improved your practice in the comments!
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