I am a YouTube yogi. I have never taken a yoga class. Everything I know about asana I learned from the comfort of my living room. So the fact that I just finished my 200 hour teacher training may be shocking, but I can tell you that the Internet is actually an amazing yoga teacher!
I live in the middle of nowhere. We have a small grocery store, a post office, a couple of bar/restaurants, and a few liquor stores. That’s it. We don’t have a place to buy liquid eyeliner let alone a yoga studio! So when my days of being a bikini competitor got the better of me and my body needed a break from high intensity exercise, I searched YouTube for yoga classes. Was I ever surprised at the quality of instruction and sheer volume of videos to chose from: Kino MacGregor, Lesley Fightmaster, Tim Senesi, Yoga with Adriene…such amazing instruction, and entirely free! I was hooked, and before long I had established a rock solid home practice.
Yoga slowly brought me to a place where body image mattered less and health mattered more. While I always wanted the challenge of mastering a new pose, yoga taught me to not be competitive with myself and to just accept what I was capable of doing on a daily basis. It was life changing. I knew that my community would also benefit from yoga, so I decided to do my 200 hour teacher training.
Despite never having taken a real yoga class, I was not the least experienced, flexible, fit, or knowledgeable person at teacher training (as I had feared I would be). In fact, many of my fellow teacher trainees were so impressed that they are going to add YouTube to their home practice. And, I came to realize that even if I was all the things I feared, it wouldn’t have mattered. Because yoga is for everybody and anybody, even those who have never stepped foot in a studio.
Being a YouTube yogi has its perks. I don’t have to worry about what I’m wearing, or traffic, or fees, or punctuality. I don’t have anyone to be envious of or distracted by. I can always hear the teacher and the temperature is perfect. Nobody is watching so I have nothing to be embarrassed about, nor do I have anyone to compare myself to. It’s just me and yoga. Not only that, I’m getting top notch instruction. Many of the yoga teachers on YouTube are extraordinarily talented, and the benefits of listening to their cues outweigh any drawbacks of not having personal attention.
Now that I have completed the training and am ready to begin teaching, I have five tips to share for incorporating YouTube into your home practice:
One: set a lesson time. Just like classes are offered at particular times at the studio, schedule your home practice into your day. It’s really easy to skip a home workout when other things gets in your way, but give yourself time for your practice and let the chores wait. You can even schedule watching a particular teacher on particular days so it really is like going to a class at the studio.
Two: add variety. The beauty of YouTube is that you can find anything you want, and new content is added daily. If you find yourself getting bored, just look for a new style of yoga to try, like ashtanga or gentle vinyasa or restorative or flexibility training. Unlike doing yoga at a studio, you don’t have to chose your yoga practice based on what’s available in a certain time slot.
Three: switch up your teachers. A benefit of YouTube yoga that you don’t have with traditional classes is the ability to keep scrolling through teachers until one resonates. So, if you’ve been trying to learn tittibhasana and just can’t get it, search “how to tittibhasana” and keep trying different teachers until someone says something that clicks! Often it just takes one good cue and you’ll nail that asana.
Four: stay balanced. It’s easy to get so caught up in wanting to perfect an asana that you neglect other parts of your practice. I was so intent on learning bakasana before I was ready that I gave myself carpel tunnel syndrome; I was focused on the pose rather than on enjoying the journey of achieving it. YouTube gives you the power to pause and rewind, but just don’t abuse it. Try something three times than move on for the day.
Five: don’t skip meditation. Due to length restrictions many YouTube videos have to stop at savasana and just instruct you do it on your own. Do it on your own! Don’t skip it simply because the video ends. The whole point of doing asana is to clear the mind and make the body strong for meditation. If you need help, find a YouTube of guided meditation or even meditation music. It’s important for your spiritual health. After all, savasana is the most important asana.
So next time you’re doing yoga at home, give YouTube a try. It will really add to your practice.
UPDATE: I re-wrote this blog post when I was about to teach my first yoga class and it was published on Elephant Journal! Check it out here and feel free to leave a comment!
Mala beads: Etsy
“2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses” by Daniel Lacerda: Amazon
Aztec Print Leggings: Liquido
Jacket: I got this years ago so the colour is no longer available, but it’s from Lululemon