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Can’t go to class? Simplifying the world of online yoga

Simplifying the world of online yoga

There are many reasons you might not be able to attend a yoga class: financial, emotional, physical, geographical, practical. The list goes on and all of these are completely valid. It might be a short-term barrier, something longer-term, or perhaps it feels closer to permanent. I don’t believe being unable to attend a class in person should stop you from practicing yoga, and with the world wide web there really are endless opportunities. However, the amount of choice can definitely feel overwhelming – as if you needed another reason to find it difficult!

 

I’ve tried to simplify it a little here and broken it into three main categories below.

 

But, before you read any further…

 

I want you to pause for a moment and ask yourself ‘is the reason valid, or am I making excuses or assumptions that are making me get in my own way?’. If you answered yes to the second part, that is also completely valid, but perhaps you could challenge yourself to get out there. Wholeheartedly congratulate yourself when you do. If the answer is the second part but the barrier still seems insurmountable, give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up, try some of the suggestions below and maybe give it another go in the not too distant future.

 

Yoga Online

 

The online yoga world is humongous and it’s growing rapidly. In theory, being able to practice in the ‘comfort of your own home’ should simplify life and remove all the barriers listed at the start of this blog post. All you need is some floor space and an internet connection, right? You don’t necessarily even need a mat – a towel or a blanket works, but so does the carpet or the floor (if a little cold and hard, perhaps). You also don’t need to worry about whether you’ve got a food stain on your top, if anyone can see your pants through your, er, pants, or whether your hair is messy.

 

NB: I also don’t worry about any of these things with the people I teach, but I get it, I’ve heard that chat and used to engage in it myself!

 

Here are your main options.

 

1. YouTube

 

It’s free! Yoga with Adriene is one of the biggest names and she has loads of content. This includes stand-alone classes of varying lengths, and series or challenges – a structured sequence of classes designed to be taken daily (usually) and can range from a few days to much longer. Of course there’s nothing to force you to do the whole thing if it’s not working for you!

 

There are loads of other teachers. I recommend you just start somewhere – search ‘yoga’ + ‘descriptive word’ and pick something on the first page of results, don’t faff around too much. The descriptive word could be something you would like to feel like energizing or relaxing. It could be a duration like 10 minutes or one hour, or it could be a pace/level like slow or beginner. Click play and see how you get on. You’ll probably know within the first minute if it’s what you are looking for and change if it’s rubbing you up the wrong way. But again, don’t faff. It’s all practice – learning what you don’t like is just as important as learning what you enjoy.

 

If you are an organised type (or would like to be) keep a log of the classes you take with a couple of notes on what you did/didn’t like to refer to later. Maybe you’ll spot a trend that will help if and when you are ready to go to in-person classes.

 

2. Online yoga platforms

 

Again, there are loads. Whilst generally there is a monthly fee for these it’s nearly always significantly less than you would pay to attend a studio. The good news is pretty much all of them offer a free trial of anything from a week to a month. This is a brilliant way to try different platforms to decide what format works best for you and also see if there are teachers/styles you want more of. They pretty much all have a function to search by duration, style or specific teacher.

 

You will need to enter your card details to get access. As long as you set yourself a reminder for the last day of the trial to cancel your subscription you won’t get charged if you decide it’s not right for you.

 

To get started just search ‘online yoga platform’ (and optionally, ‘free trial’) and start from there. Unless you fall in love with the first one you try then I would definitely encourage you to sample a number before you settle on one. You could probably cover a whole year at least with all the free trials out there!

 

If and when you are ready to commit to one then playing hard to get can be in your favour as there are pretty much always additional discounts to be had on the advertised price. If you go through the process of cancelling you’ll get the ‘are you sure?’ emails with additional bribes or special prices. Take them if they are offered! Just make sure you note any conditions or expiry dates to avoid getting caught out. You’ll also end up on multiple mailing lists, but you can always unsubscribe and it might be a good thing if you want to return to the platform as there will usually be an incentive.

 

My current favourite after doing lots of trials is Movement for Modern Life (MFML)*. There are some teachers I really enjoy and my go-tos are Lucy McCarthy (not because she has a great name), Zephyr Wildman, Norman Blair, Adam Hocke and for meditation, Alexander Filmer-Lorch. Let me know who you discover, on all platforms not just MFML, I’m always looking for recommendations.

 

3. Specific teachers

 

If you have found a teacher you love, usually via one of the above methods or perhaps from social media or personal recommendations, they may have their own membership option if they are well established. This will usually be a fixed monthly fee and accessed via their website, and sometimes they have bonus features besides their physical practices. This could work well if you are really invested in learning from a specific teacher and it will help counter the overwhelm of all the choice with the other methods above. However, somewhat obviously, you will be restricted to what they offer only which might feel like it’s lacking a bit of variety if that’s what you need or might want depending how you’re feeling.

 

Not sure if it’s worth the effort? Read: Why yoga is like cement.

 

Enough procrastinating now, get yoga-ing! Let me know what you learn.

 

*I pay for it but I’m not getting paid to promote them!

 

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