3 Things I Learned From Virtual Yoga Classes

My relationship with yoga began in 2009 and I’ve always had in-person teachers with random YouTube videos here and there purely for entertainment. Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed going to a physical space to practice hot yoga and it took me some time to find a yoga studio where I felt comfortable. I accidentally discovered hot yoga a few years ago and it was something I really enjoyed so I miss being in a studio to practice and sweat in the heat. However, because of this pandemic related shift, my yoga practice also took a significant turn (in a good way!).

In 2020, I had my first experience with yoga classes via zoom and it was alright. Okay, it was awkward at first but then I got used to it. I experimented with many types of yoga classes (YouTube videos, livestream from 3 different yoga studios, and some pre-recorded sessions from another studio) but something just didn’t feel good and I wasn’t sure what it was.

After much experimentation and exploration, I discovered that it wasn’t the yoga itself that didn’t feel good, it was actually the lack of consistency I experienced (actually this happened since my most recent move and it really intensified during lockdown in 2020). It was only during this exploration that I realized that for as long as I’ve been practicing yoga, I’ve had 3 teachers: my first teacher for about 6 years, then I moved and had 2 consistent teachers for 3 years. Since my last move, I’ve been on the “hunt” for a good yoga studio which meant I took classes with many teachers. Thankfully, I found a yoga teacher (virtual) and I have been practicing with her since January 2021 and it has been the best experience ever! I will share more about this experience in another post because it has been an incredible journey not only in my yoga practice, but also in self-study.

Here are 3 things I learned from virtual yoga:

  • virtual yoga takes a different kind of discipline: instead of getting dressed and driving or walking to a studio (which has some accountability in itself), you click a button and join a class from the comfort of your home or wherever you want to practice. If the teacher has a large online class, it might be easy to get “lost” in the practice and not get individual attention that you may get in an in-person class.
  • adjustments look different and it’s not for everyone: if the teacher is not paying attention to you online (either because it’s a large class or the teacher is practicing while teaching and can’t look at the screen to see you), you may not get (verbal) adjustments which may be disappointing for some. With online yoga, the teacher gives verbal adjustments and cues and you have more responsibility for adjusting yourself.
  • virtual yoga classes can seem impersonal: with the exception of my current yoga teacher, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken a virtual yoga class and felt like the teacher actually saw me and paid attention to me. One time, the teacher recorded the class without telling me and by the time I realized we were halfway through the class and all I could think about was how uncomfortable I felt and it shifted the energy for my practice (I was also the only virtual student in the class…awkward!).

If you are thinking of joining a live virtual yoga class, here are 3 things to ask yourself before you joing:

  • do you have any injuries and may need the assistance from a teacher for adjustments or modifications? You may want to ask the yoga teacher how they can assist/guide you during the virtual class before you decide on joining
  • how do you feel about having your camera on? some students leave their camera off during yoga classes for their privacy. However, this creates a barrier for the teacher to be able to see you and safely give verbal cues. Also, I discovered that not all yoga teachers use a platform like zoom where they can interact with you in real-time. Some instructors use platforms where you can see them live but they cannot see you
  • do the virtual times fit with your schedule? One good thing about some virtual classes is the variety of times the classes are offered. This may be an advantage for you especially if you have busy days. On the other hand, some classes were offered during times that interrupted my usual schedule so I was unable to attend.

Have you tried virtual yoga? I’d love to know more about your experiences!

~ Karisse C

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