With the whole world upside down yoga (and fitness) teachers everywhere are taking their classes online. The internet is suddenly flooded with more and more classes every day and, frankly, the whole thing is overwhelming. Two weeks into lockdown I want to share my experience of internet yoga with you. It is my own experience and purely a personal perspective. So far, I've only dipped my toes into the online yoga world but, for what it's worth, this is my take on it.
Are online classes safe?
The answer is: not always. One of the advantages of a live teacher is for them to personalise the class. A good teacher, whatever their subject, should know their student and mould their teaching around them. Having said that it doesn't always work that way. Many gym classes involve the teacher leading from the front with very little interaction, personalised instructions or adjustments so, in some way, an online class is much the same.
If you're a beginner or have health issues or injuries that might affect your practice always check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme (this is the disclaimer you'll find on most online platforms and the old video boxes). The common sense rules apply of listening to your own body and only doing what you feel comfortable and capable of doing. If you feel any kind of pain stop immediately and take a resting pose like Child.
Be aware of basic contra-indications ie:
My advice to beginners is to choose your class carefully - don't assume because it's labelled beginners it really is! Opt for a recorded rather than a live class and watch it through first so you have a good idea what it's about before joining in. This is one of the advantages of online yoga that you don't get in a class and remember to take rests whenever you need it or adapt the posture. Most teachers offer easier options so always take them at first to refine your technique and only move on when you're fully confident. Another positive about online classes is that usually (although it's not always the case - more on this later) no-one can see you so there's less peer pressure to keep up with everyone else!
If you're sensible and realistic about what you can do there's no reason for online classes to be any less safe than live classes. You just have to take responsibility for your own well being and work within your limits.
To pay or not to pay?
This is the big question. If you want free classes there are plenty out there and more available every day (every second at the moment!). Obviously there is no guarantee of quality and you might think that a paid for class is likely to be better than a free one but, that's not necessarily true.
My opinion is this: if your regular yoga teacher is offering online classes you should support her (or him) financially if you can. Most yoga teachers are self-employed and likely to be struggling to survive during the lockdown. Charging for online classes may be a lifeline for them and your support may make the difference between them continuing to teach after this time or not. Studio owners still have overheads to pay and without an income may go out of business.
Payment methods vary enormously as do the online platform teachers are using. There is usually some way of restricting access without paying first. Prices vary from donations (pay what you can) to the usual studio price, which is likely to be £7 or £10 drop in with reductions for a package (weekly or monthly) price. Some teachers offer hardship rates (£5 seems popular).
An advantage of paid for classes is that numbers may (although not always) be limited, you may have been asked to complete a Health Form so the teacher knows who you are and your individual requirements, the teacher may be able to see you (Zoom has this function I believe) and offer more guidance than in an open class. Most importantly of all for me is that it's nice to see your own teacher and have a familiar face and voice guiding you at home. In these extraordinary times that can be very reassuring and worth paying for.
So does that mean you should avoid free classes? Of course not!
The good thing about free classes is that you can do them as often as you want - no worry about mounting costs so mix and match with paying classes or stick with the free classes and find the ones you like and trust the most.
Take advantage of the amazing choice of classes out there - this is an opportunity to try different teachers and yoga styles. Just be aware that with free classes you are completely on your own and responsible for your own safety.
LIVE OR RECORDED?
Until now, I could never understand the point of "live webinars" that expected you to be there at a set date and time. But over the last couple of weeks I've loved joining live streamed classes. Every week day I "have" to get up for my daily yoga (I don't have to get dressed but I do have to get up!) and there's a sense of community as familiar names scroll by at the the bottom of my screen. I know the teacher is there in real time and she can react to the names with a friendly hi - it's all new and quite amazing but, at least while real classes are not possible, it's nice to be part of.
If you can't do the class live (I've seen some brilliant excuses "sorry I can't do your class today, I've got a singing lesson at that time"!) you can usually access the class later as a recording anyway (this isn't always possible with paid for classes so ask about access before you pay).
I always comment when I arrive at the session so the teacher knows I'm there and close with a thank you and sometimes add my thoughts or a special request.
Recorded classes are great when you need to fit in with your own routine. I know we are all supposed to have endless free time now but I've actually been busier than usual! And with recorded classes you can do them again and again.
Practice really does make perfect!
Are there any Body and Soul videos?
Yes there are! I'm a newbie to the recording world and I don't promise anything fantastic. My offerings are free to view although I will be restricting access to some classes when and if I live stream. In the meantime, my You Tube channel is there for all to "enjoy". Please view and leave comments.
I qualified to teach in 2015 but my yoga journey started much earlier, way back in the 1970s. Here I share my experiences and passion about everything yoga.