The topic of learning yoga online has become increasingly popular in recent years as technology has made it possible to take yoga classes and teacher training entirely online.
With the convenience of being able to learn from anywhere, at any time, more and more people are turning to online yoga programs as a way to deepen their practice and learn more about the art of yoga.
The popularity of online yoga learning has also increased in recent times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where in-person classes were not available. As the demand for online yoga learning continues to grow, it’s important to consider whether this is an effective way to learn and practice yoga.
Can you learn yoga alone?
You have probably read or understood that the best way to learn yoga is in person from a living master. The question is – is that the only way?
While having a yoga teacher in the flesh guiding you moment by moment is a hard thing to replace, fear not – you can learn yoga by yourself.
For hundreds and even thousands of years, people have been learning and practicing yoga on their own. There are many stories written in the yogic texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika where practitioners went deep into the Himalayas to practice.
That being said, these same yogic texts emphasize the necessity to learn directly from a master. While solo practice has been around for centuries, it is not always considered an ideal way to learn yoga if you are just starting out.
It’s also worth mentioning that yoga that is referenced by these ancient yogic texts are far more subtle and complex than just doing a few sun salutations and up and down dog. They learned many other forms such as pranayama, mantra sadhana, mudras, shatkriyas etc.
While these techniques definitely require a teacher as they deal with the subtle energy levels in the body, asana, or yogic postures deal with the grosser elements of the human body, making it possible to learn online without the same level of guidance.
Can you learn yoga at home?
For beginners who might not have done a single yoga asana before you might be asking where to start? I wouldn’t attempt Vrischikasana, or Scorpion Pose on your first day but, you can start with a slower Hatha Yoga class.
Books can be good for reference, but it is not really the learn. They can be good to look back on after or before a class, but the best way to learn is to do it yourself.
A good place to start if you are a beginner would be Youtube. There you can find a free beginner class that is to your liking without investing too much time or money. Once you find a style you like there are loads of online platforms that offer monthly subscriptions (at a fraction of the normal cost of a yoga studio) where you can get access to dozens of different teachers, styles and lengths.
Types of Online Yoga Classes
The modern world offers many types of online yoga classes, which include streaming video classes and pre-recorded classes, as well as interactive sessions with a live instructor.
Video classes are the most common type of online yoga class and they provide a convenient way to practice at home or wherever you can access an internet connection.
You can find pre-recorded video yoga classes and even live yoga classes both in group or private using ZOOM.
If you’re looking for more personalized guidance, you can sign up for one-on-one sessions with a certified yoga instructor usually through a yoga ap like DoYogaWithMe that have a number of teachers you can contact or through personal yoga apps that many of the more popular teachers have.
What to look for when choosing an online yoga app?
When choosing an online yoga app, there are several factors to consider to ensure you get the most out of your practice.
- Looks Legit: Look for an app that offers classes taught by qualified and experienced yoga teachers. Most all legit looking apps should work, you just never know these days what is out there. Check the qualifications and credentials of the instructors and read reviews from other users.
- Variety of classes and programs: Consider an app that offers a wide range of classes and programs, including different styles of yoga, levels of difficulty, and lengths of classes.
- User-friendly interface: Look for an app that is easy to navigate and has a user-friendly interface. It should be easy to find and access the classes you want to take.
- Cost: Consider the cost of the app and if it fits within your budget. Some apps offer a free trial period, so you can try before you buy.
- Additional features: Some apps offer additional features such as class scheduling, progress tracking, and personalized programs. Consider if these features are important to you.
- Accessibility: Check if the app is compatible with your device and if it’s available in your region.
- Reviews and ratings: read the reviews and ratings of the app before downloading, it will give you an idea of what to expect.
- Offline access: Some apps allow you to download classes so you can practice even without internet connection.
Advantages of Learning Yoga Online
One of the main benefits is the convenience and flexibility it offers. With online yoga, you have the ability to learn at your own pace and schedule, making it easy to fit yoga practice into your busy lifestyle.
Sometimes, when life gets busy, it’s just nice having the flexibility to practice whenever and wherever is convenient for you—even if it means rolling out your mat at midnight! Finally, since many online teachers have their own personal websites and blogs, they often provide additional resources like written instructions or free short videos that can be used for further study when needed.
Another advantage of online yoga is the access to a wider range of teachers and programs. With online yoga, you can take classes from world-renowned teachers, learn different styles of yoga, and have access to a variety of programs, all from the comfort of your own home.
Online yoga is also cost-effective. It eliminates the need to travel to a physical studio, not to mention the monthly yoga studio fees which can be $150 a month.
Another reason I like online classes is that you can practice at your own space pick a style and teacher you like and even stop, pause and rewind at anytime. But what I like most is the ability to learn more about a specific style or asana. For instance, when I was mastering arm balances I could take an immersion intensive right then. I didn’t need to wait some weeks before I found one being offered.
Disadvantages of Learning Yoga Online
While there are a lot of things I like about online yoga classes one of the main limitations of learning yoga online is the lack of hands-on experience. With online yoga, you do not have the opportunity for physical adjustments or corrections from the teacher which can be helpful to make sure you have the posture right.
Additionally, online yoga classes don’t provide the opportunity for in-person interactions with your instructor and classmates, which you might feel you are missing out on. Its nice to connect with people who go to the same studio.
I would say another downside is personalization. Without the direct supervision of a teacher, it can be challenging to get feedback and adjustments that are tailored to your individual needs and abilities. This can make it difficult to progress in your practice and fully understand the subtleties.
Some of my most powerful moments have come from being in a yoga studio with others all listening and breathing together. There is definitely a synergy that fills the room when you are together with a group of 30 other people all tuning in to their practice. Unfortunately, you do not get this in the same way when you are home alone.
Another limitation of learning yoga online is that it requires a certain level of self-discipline and motivation. Without the structure and accountability of an in-person class, it can be easy to become distracted or lose focus when practicing yoga at home. It’s important to set a regular practice schedule and create a dedicated space for your yoga practice if you hope to deep in understanding.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t unique to online yoga, and it could be said for any online learning in general. It’s important to set up a schedule and stick to it, and to stay motivated to continue learning and practicing.
How to ensure you stay committed at home…
Setting a regular practice schedule during the day can help you stay consistent, and create a dedicated space for your yoga practice that you use (if possible) only for your practice. Creating the same regular timings and space can help stay committed to your practice.
Creating a space at home using incense, and music in a nice well light and ventilated area can also help to bring in the energy you need to get yourself motivated. Anything you can do to get yourself on the mat is worth it.
Is Learning Yoga On My Own As Effective as In-Person Instruction?
Learning yoga on your own can be effective, but it does not as replace in-person instruction. When we want to learn anything we need a teacher. Online teachers can be a great supplement I would not say it replaces in-person classes.
It all really depends on your level of experience and what you are looking to get out of it. It all depends on how you approach it.
While it’s not impossible to learn online if you are a complete beginner it isn’t probably the most ideal. I learned in person for a few years before I ever did an online class.
However, with that being said, my sister has only been to a few classes in person in her life, and yet does online yoga classes regularly. So really it all depends on how comfortable you are in your own body.
If you have some athleticism and know how to listen to the cues your body gives you you will be well on your way to being able to do this by yourself.
Ultimately, a combination of both self-study and in-person instruction may be the most effective way to learn yoga.
So is it enough?
It’s important to approach online learning, including online yoga, with realistic expectations. It’s important to remember that while online yoga programs may not be as comprehensive or hands-on as in-person training it is better than none at all. While online yoga can provide a convenient and flexible way to learn, it’s not a replacement for in-person instruction.
That being said, with the right approach, online yoga can be a great way to continue your practice no matter where you are.
Jake is a yoga and meditation teacher. He loves stream-of-consciousness writing, good coffee, and a quiet mind. Not necessarily in that order. You can find him pursuing that wherever he goes.