Can Online Yoga Classes Be A Good Substitute for Going to a Studio?

Can Online Yoga Classes Be A Good Substitute for Going to a Studio?
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed an unprecedented number of new and experienced yogis to seek alternatives to in-person instruction. Online classes like those on DoYogaWithMe offer a promising substitute. Accessing classes online means no need to leave the house during lockdown and more flexibility for busy lives. And, since sites like ours offer tiered memberships with options for free or paid content, online classes can be far more affordable than their studio counterparts.
 
Nonetheless, those new to online yoga might wonder, ‘Can the virtual experience ever truly be a satisfying replacement (or supplement) to the studio?’ We think the answer is clearly YES! However, with so many people looking for alternative instruction, we’ve taken some time to answer the most common questions we see from online yoga newcomers like:  
 
Can online yoga replicate the personal care I get from a good in-person instructor? 
Can I become part of a yoga community through online classes like I can at a studio? 
Can I practice yoga safely online?
Can I get the same benefits from online yoga as in-person yoga? 
Can I start doing online yoga as an absolute beginner?
Can my at-home yoga environment ever be as good as the studio’s?
With so many choices, how do I choose the right online class for me? 
What kind of technology do I need for online yoga? 
How do I get started? 
 

Can online yoga replicate the personal care I get from a good in-person instructor?

 
Woman doing yoga on her laptopThis is perhaps the most common question newcomers have about online yoga, and the truth is that on-line yoga can’t precisely replicate the immediate feedback, correction and care some students may receive at a studio. This may mean that for yogis lucky enough to have access to a great and affordable instructor, online yoga may never fully replace their in-person experience but instead serve as a supplement to studio classes or as a temporary substitute during, say, a global COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, not everyone has access to a great local teacher, and even those who do might crave personal connection even in supplementary classes. 
 
Fortunately, while the experience is clearly different, you can still forge great teacher-student relationships through online classes provided two important factors. The first is finding teachers who understand the virtual context and tailor their approach accordingly. It may seem simple, but things like good voice projection, eye contact, and camera awareness will go a long way in helping you feel cared-for and connected. Sites like ours go to great lengths to ensure our teachers are of the highest caliber and that they have the support they need to adapt to the online environment. 
 
The second factor is finding classes hosted on platforms that allow for interactive and immersive experiences. At DoYogaWithMe for example, our comment boards and forum let students have their questions answered by our trained and dedicated instructors. You can even post videos and pictures of yourself working through poses and receive tailored feedback, something you would likely only get in very small in-person classes!
 
Provided these two factors are in place, you may find that online teacher-student interaction can be just as warm and informative as in-person. Our members often attest to this on our testimonial board, and some students even feel so connected to their instructors they decide to meet them in-person at one of our retreats! It might not be exactly the same as in the studio, but that doesn’t mean the online teacher-student experience has to be any less powerful. In fact, as is discussed further in the sections below, well-designed online yoga classes can capture the spirit and intention not just of the student-teacher dynamic, but many of the best parts of the in-person yoga experience. 
 

Can I become part of a yoga community through online classes like I can at a studio? 

 
Folks don’t just go to class to connect with the teacher, so questions like the one above are natural for online newcomers. Like the teacher-student connection, student-student connections look different in the online context but can be just as impactful. At DoYogaWithMe, you have the opportunity to create a personalized profile and reach students working through similar classes, programs, or challenges, on our comment boards and forum. This allows you to connect even in crazy times like these, and since it's online, you aren’t bound by geography. You can connect with yogis worldwide! 
 
The online context offers another advantage over the studio: because you can simultaneously access hundreds of classes and programs, you can join cohorts interested in very niche or specialized programs and training, creating opportunities to connect to people with similar experiences and interests. This can be especially impactful when working through sensitive programming like our Let Go of Anxiety and Fear program for folks dealing with feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, where communities of support can help you push through difficult work. 
 

Can I practice yoga safely online?

 
It is almost always safer to practice any physical activity in the presence of others, but yoga can be practiced safely even without a qualified instructor in the room with you. The key is to understand that by practicing without a teacher present you are increasing your risks, and should therefore exercise increased caution. 
 
As with all yoga, you should consult your doctor before getting onto your yoga mat if you are new to yoga, if your body has recently experienced some kind of change or injury, or if you are pregnant or nursing. 
 
Additionally:
  • Select yoga classes that are suitable for your skill level
  • Listen closely to the instructor's cues and opt for appropriate variations on challenging poses.
  • Exercise caution and be conservative when moving into new poses
  • Be especially cautious when moving into balancing poses, inversions or deep stretches
  • If you feel pain, do not push through it. Stop and back slowly out of the pose. Assess if you are hurt and visit a doctor if the pain is extreme or long-lasting. 
 

Can I get the same benefits from online yoga as in-person yoga? 

 
woman doing yoga at homeStudies have found that practicing yoga can improve flexibility, joint range of motion, strength, sleep, mental clarity, energy levels, and overall well being while reducing stress, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue, and there is no reason online yoga cannot provide all or some of these benefits, depending on how your practice. 
 
Just as with in-person yoga, you’ll maximize your benefits by establishing a good, reliable practice, and follow the direction of trained, competent teachers you can trust. One way to bring focus to your practice is by following set programming like on our Yoga Programs and Yoga Challenges pages, but you can also set your own goals and create your own programs accordingly. It’s all about consistency and intentionality and the great thing about yoga, whether in person or online, is that it can actually help you develop both of those things!
 
 
 
 

 

Can I start doing online yoga as an absolute beginner?

 
You absolutely can start online yoga as a beginner, but it is important to remember three things. 
 
  1. Just as practicing yoga alone increases your risk, so does practicing as a beginner. It’s extremely important that you follow the safety suggestions above, take your time, and be patient. 
  2. It is important to find classes that are appropriate for your level. Many websites, like ours, have class lists that are organized and searchable by difficulty, and programs or challenges geared specifically for the absolute beginner student. Start at the most basic programming and work up.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sites like ours have Beginners pages, comment boards or forums where you can find information, post videos or pictures of yourself doing poses, and solicit advice from community members or teachers. Make use of these tools! No question is a stupid question and asking will help you progress and keep you safe!  

 

An Absolute Beginner Yoga Program with Helen Camisa | DoYogaWithMeYoga For Absolute Beginners: A Program with David Procyshyn | DoYogaWithMe

 

 

 

Can my at-home yoga environment ever be as good as the studio’s?

 
One thing that can sometimes be missed when practicing at home is the ambiance of the yoga studio. While recreating that feeling at home can be challenging, it certainly isn’t impossible! 
 
Intentionality is the first piece of the puzzle. Yoga studios are built for one purpose and you can sense it when you walk in. Since most people can’t build a personal shala, there are a few things you can do to help bring some of that intentionality home. If you have something like a dedicated spare room, consider adding a few esthetic touches to help set the tone. Some examples might be candles, photos or singing bowls - whatever signals to you that this place is dedicated to your practice. If your space is multipurpose, consider doing some kind of ritual to signal the beginning of your practice. Dimming the lights, closing a curtain or door, or even just intentionally unrolling your mat can help you get into a good mindset. The key is to convince yourself that this is the time and place to practice. 
 
The second important thing is to have adequate yoga equipment. Strictly speaking, all you really need to do most yoga is a clear space where you can stretch to your full length lying down and stretch your hands overhead while standing up, but most people will want a yoga mat such as the ones listed here.  Some people may never want or need anything more than that, but it can improve your practice immensely to have one or two yoga blocks, a strap, and a bolster to assist with balances or flexibility challenges, such as the yoga props listed here and here. Those on a budget can also learn how to build your own bolster
 
Creating an intentional space in your home and stocking it with adequate equipment will help optimize your experience. You may not quite approach the same esthetic qualities of a good studio, but you can capture some of the most important elements without too much effort. 
 

With so many choices, how do I choose the right online class for me? 

 
Mother and daughter yoga in living roomThe ability to access hundreds of videos is one of the greatest assets of the online yoga environment… and one its most overwhelming features. Newcomers often find themselves lost and wondering how to sift through all of the material. If you happen to be a free spirit and want to embrace the chaos, that’s great! Just keep the safety suggestions above in mind and explore freely! For most however, it will help to have a more concrete methodology. 
 
If you’ve been doing yoga for a while, you can start by noting down your experience level (beginner, intermediate, advanced etc.), goals (flexibility, strength, focus, stress reduction etc.) and your preferred styles (hatha, power, flow, ashtanga, etc.). Many sites, including ours, will have options to search for specific classes or programs based on these kinds of criteria. You can narrow your options dramatically just by being clear about what it is you want and then searching accordingly. 
 
If you are brand new to yoga, we highly recommend starting with a tailored beginners program like Yoga For Absolute Beginners. These programs will help acquaint you with some basic yoga terminology, techniques, and styles, and can help you begin to cultivate a sense of where your interests lie. We also recommend reaching out on forums and comment boards like those on our site, to see what other students or teachers might have to recommend. It might seem like a lot at first but little by little you will find your way! 
 

What kind of technology do I need for online yoga? 

 
While online yoga helps students avoid some barriers associated with in-person classes, like access to yoga studios, the high cost of in-person classes, and the inflexibility of shala schedules, it does require at least periodic access to a viable internet connection and appropriate technology. However, it may surprise you to learn how low the tech requirements for online yoga can actually be. 
 
To get the very most from the online yoga experience, it’s best if you have a steady internet connection fast enough to allow video streaming. Some sites, like ours, allow you to get a lot out of even slower connections by providing options to stream videos either in HD, or in lower quality formats that require less data to use. You don’t necessarily need lightning fast internet to stream online yoga content. On DoYogaWithMe for instance, you can stream low resolution (360p) videos with a connection speed of only 0.7 Mbps.  You can learn your connection speed by running this Google speed test
 
man deep in meditationEven more surprising is that you don’t even need constant internet access to use online yoga classes. On DoYogaWithMe, for instance, we offer the option to download our classes in both video and audio formats. You can see the download buttons below every video where they are available. This means you can download a class to your device or memory stick when you have access to the internet and then play it even when you are offline. This is perfect for those with sporadic internet connection like travelers or people living in remote locations. 
 
But what about the device you need to play online yoga content? Once again, you have more choice than you might expect. You can play yoga videos on anything from a smart home theater system, to a TV, desktop, laptop or smartphone. But you don’t technically need even something with a screen. Many of our classes, including many of our meditations, are available for audio streaming or downloads, meaning you can get your yoga on with something as low tech as an MP3 or CD player. So if your question is, ‘Do I have the right tech to enjoy online yoga?’ the answer is most likely YES!
 

How do I get started?

 
Well, when it comes to online yoga, the world, as they say, is your oyster! 
 
But since you’ve come to our site already we recommend that you either head over to our Yoga for Beginners page - if you’re new to yoga - or to our Yoga Classes page, where you can use our search filters to find what you are looking for. The good news is that you can find plenty of classes for free. DoYogaWith me operates on a freemium model - we offer 50-60% of our classes for free to anyone at all, no membership required, while the remaining classes are for paying members only. And right now we are offering new community members 2 Months Free Premium Membership, which means that you can try our membership services absolutely free simply by following this link! 
 
If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Mission and Values, Our Teachers and our Bloopers and Outtakes.
 
If you’re ready to try online yoga, go ahead and see what you think! It won’t cost you anything. 

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