The first yoga classes I attended were $3 each, guided by an
ashram-trained teacher in the dusty back room of a crystal shop. None of us had
a sticky mat (not yet widely available) to put on the concrete floor, and $100
yoga pants weren’t even a gleam in some marketer’s eye. Times have changed.
Classes today average $10-20, and most yogis would consider a mat a necessity.
No longer counter-culture, yoga has moved from backrooms and basements to spas
and studios, and it seems like everyone’s gone to the mat, from your best
friend’s mom to Hollywood celebrities. Though yoga practices are still
transmitted from teacher to student, technology has given us a myriad of ways
to “take” a class, from streaming video to Wii Fit.
Every electronic device comes with countless yogic options.
You can learn about
asanas in depth by viewing instructions on your computer. Join a virtual
studio like the popular YogaGlo. Stream a
complete class for free (Yoga
Dork adds one every week or so) or download one to your smart TV with Hulu. Relax in your hotel room with
your iPod or iPad. Laugh with other
yogis on Skype.
Accompany your home practice with soothing tunes from Sacred Sounds radio. Chant along
with podcasts from Sikh Net while
you make dinner or tune into an inspiring interview from Spirit Voyage or Everything Yoga.
But while technology can dazzle us with options, it can’t
replace the vibe you create with other students during a public class, or the
personalized instruction you receive from a teacher, whether it’s a hands-on
adjustment or a modification geared to your recent knee injury. Between studio
visits, however, virtual classes can help you remember the mechanics of a
particular pose or the sequence of sun
salutations. They can also help you work with specific conditions, such as insomnia or menstrual
cramps when you can’t get to class. You can sample different asana styles
from power vinyasa to restorative, or squeeze in a guided
meditation or pranayama practice at your desk.
The very best use of virtual classes, however, is to help
you commit to daily practice if time or budget keep you from going to the
studio every day. When you practice asana more than three times a week, you
will reap the benefits exponentially. Support your practice by infusing your
day with yogic music, mindfulness, and philosophy. But don’t take my word for
it—plug in, chill out and see what happens.
Though I tend to associate my computer and phone with
stressful stuff like deadlines, I like the idea of turning the tables on
technology and using it to quiet the mind.
What virtual practices have worked
best for you?