The internet has brought us plenty of things. Free overnight shipping, textbook codes and Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl fashion faux pas are just a few of the examples. It has also introduced people to previously unknown things, like how much you can learn about antimatter from Wikipedia — or more helpful things, like yoga.
Your yoga practice was probably introduced or enhanced in some way with the internet. Either you first heard about it there or you found a gym that offered yoga classes with it. But that’s far from the limits of what it can do for you. YouTube, in particular, can be especially beneficial. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to it or you’ve been practicing for decades — YouTube yogis have something fit for you.
If you’re new to yoga, going to class can be intimidating. It’s easy to see why! The other people who are going through the poses in there all seem to know what they’re doing. And if you’ve stuck to the back in hopes of not being noticed, there’s also a chance you can’t see as well as you’d like. Any examples your instructor is giving may very well be lost between the pounding of your heart, your obstructed view from the back and the many poses where you’ll be staring straight at your mat.
YouTube, however, has a plethora of yoga instructors who aim to teach people the basics. If you want to get a better feel for how you should move through a sun salutation, YouTube can let you practice at home without worrying about what people think. It can give you a confidence boost so even if you’re unfamiliar with some poses in your next class, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect. You’ll want that knowledge if your instructor is using the Sanskrit names for poses along with the English versions. “Tadasana” sounds very different from “Mountain Pose” and can leave you second-guessing your instincts.
Lastly, the biggest and best benefit of YouTube yoga for beginners is that you can move at your own pace. You can spend time exploring different kinds of yoga, because there are a lot of them, and pause the video when you need to take a break. Sometimes you realize you need to alter the pose to make it work for you, and you can’t always stop and grab a towel for your knees in the middle of class. At home, you can — and you can play with the poses until you find the posture that feels best.
Lastly, they don’t have to be dedicated solely to yoga. Many of the best yoga channels on YouTube mix yoga with overall health, meditation and even fashion ideas. Some of them are dedicated to challenges designed to keep new beginners on the mat and coming back week after week. If you’re new to the whole yoga thing, it can take a little bit to reap the rewards. Give it some time, though, and make use of your resources!
Intermediate to Advanced Practices
YouTube yoga sounds perfect for beginners — and in many ways, it is. Once you start to become more advanced, there are definite benefits to having a teacher or mentor to interact with who can help you correct your form and find a deeper balance. But that doesn’t mean there’s no use for YouTube.
Many people who are advanced in yoga like to teach others how to do it. YouTube can be a fantastic resource for yogis who need a burst of inspiration. Some instructors, like Laruga Glaser, are so advanced that beginners can only watch her videos in awe. Channels like that can inspire, but also give you some of your own goals to work on!
It’s also a great way to keep motivated when you can’t make it to class. Even if you’ve been doing yoga for the past 60 years, there will be some days where you just can’t make it. Sometimes you’re out of town, a loved one is sick, or you’ve gotten too advanced for the classes in your area. YouTube is the place to save you. A simple search for “advanced yoga” on YouTube yields well over a million hits. They certainly won’t all be perfect fits, but that’s a lot of options!
Even if you don’t need YouTube for inspiration or to replace a class, you can still use it. Advanced poses require a great deal of technicality and there’s bound to be one, or two, or ten, that you struggle with. Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to hear someone else explain it. Many schools are considering adopting this concept by encouraging “group teaching” for complex topics.
If the way your friends, mentors or instructors are teaching isn’t computing in your brain the right way, do a search. Perhaps there’s some idea that no one mentioned, or someone will just explain it in a way that makes more sense to you. If this method of hearing the same information different ways can work for students in high school, it can certainly help you to master some of the most challenging poses.
Yoga isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of program! Some people love it for the exercise. Others connect to the spirituality of it. Still, others find joy in the mind-body connection, with or without the spirit part. Whatever method works for you, or if you just don’t know what will work yet, YouTube can help. It’s not going to completely replace classes, especially if you’re trying new moves that require an experienced spotter, but it can certainly help you. Use it to move farther into your practice. It’s just another tool in your belt!