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The Benefits of Virtual Yoga: 5 Reasons I'm Still Teaching-and Taking-Online Yoga Classes

Updated: Apr 10

Couple in comfortable clothing taking a virtual yoga class in their living room.

While I’ve been teaching yoga since early 2016, I’ve been teaching virtual yoga since March of 2020. When I went through teacher training, the thought of teaching in front of a screen never even crossed my mind. I had taken a handful of YouTube classes and live Zoom classes, but I couldn’t fathom how online yoga would become an extension of my teaching and studentship long term.

I was teaching in the most beautiful open-air studio on the roof of a building in downtown Christiansted on the island of St. Croix when the lockdown started. My boss gave us the option of teaching online, otherwise we’d have to wear masks in class (in 85 degree heat with 85% humidity?? I simply could not!) and have limited props, etc. 

I ended up being the first of the studio to start teaching online and wow, what a learning curve that was. Transitioning my living room into a “yoga studio” started out awkward and a bit cumbersome, but by the time I moved to Seattle and had a dedicated space to teach, things felt more natural. 

But here we are, and here I still am…four years later.

So, why am I still teaching online when studios have been back in session for quite some time? The reasons are the same as to why I’m still taking classes online versus an in-person studio. I’d love to know if any of these resonate with you!

Getting to see into your personal practice spaces feels deeply connective.

Seeing your living rooms, your pets, your kids, your comfy clothes, all of it! I love that some of you practice in your offices. Some of you practice next to your beds. Some are on your back patios. And some are tucked away in a special corner of their homes that feels cozy.

There’s something about sharing our personal spaces with each other. It’s a way to reveal deeper parts of us we wouldn't otherwise get to express while out in a public space.

I get to teach what is most authentic to me.

I used to teach a Tuesday/Thursday 6am Vinyasa class. The studio required that we include a list of 10 teachings/principles in each class we taught. And, with music. While it was a lot of fun, and I met a ton of really interesting people who love to wake up early and move together, it just never truly felt like me.

Getting to teach and take a variety of asana classes has not only shaped who I am both on and off the mat, but has also helped cultivate the most authentic and honest version of the ways in which I teach. 

Being able to teach the kinds of classes I want to teach, and not necessarily ones that a studio “needs” me to teach, is such a testament to how I’ve evolved as a student and teacher and what I’ve learned through my teachers (hi, Maile and Caroline!! 🙏) and their teachers, and their teachers’ teachers, all the way back to the roots of yoga.

Parking anxiety is real.

As mentioned, the last place I taught a public in person class was in downtown Christiansted. Having to circle all the one-way blocks to find a parking spot in time to get set up in my studio and not be a sweaty puddle of a mess and then drop into my calm and zen headspace to teach others became a lot at times.

And, as a student, there have been so many times that I have been almost late to a class because I couldn’t find parking or even worse - having to drive home because I wasn’t able to find a spot in time (and I am not about to arrive late to a class). Also, it really is hard to just drop into the calm after parking panic ensues. Did the class always help bring me back to a rest & digest mode? Yes, of course. 

I remember having a full day of teacher training (it must have been a Sunday bc I was actually able to park on the street all day). I had parked right across the street from the Full House house. I got to my car after training and saw someone had put a note under my windshield. But, before grabbing it, I looked down to see the whole front corner of my car had been smashed. The note had been left by the man who was in town for business and stopped by the “attraction” to take a photo and then hit my car. 

He was lovely on the phone and I was just happy to have someone not hit and run and be a good human. The point being is that after a full day of yoga, I walked out of the studio feeling wonderful and then was instantly jolted back into the shit when my car had been hit. Ugh!

Even now as I look for studios in SLC, I am constantly checking the area for parking options. I finally tried out a studio not far from my house and decided to get there 30 minutes early to secure a parking spot.

The scene is not really my thing anymore...or maybe never was…

I walked into a class in SF once that was very much heated (where did it say that in the class description??) and everyone was standing around in cute sports bras with perfectly coiffed hair (no disrespect to these folks, but it was startling to walk into). I mean, the two girls next me walked in late with lattes and proceeded to chat on their mats for at least a quarter of the class. 

Was this a class where I was supposed to tune into the deeper parts of me and maybe get my heart rate up as I flowed and chanted and used my ujayi breath to get that energy moving or was it a meetup for the who's who to show off their latest Lululemon attire and catch up over coffee while, oh yeah, some guy is telling us to "take a vinyasa". I'm still unsure...

It’s also important to mention that these studios in which we practice are all pristine and perfectly curated spaces to bring us the most zen possible. Yet, yoga is a practice to help you show up in the face of messiness and chaos. It is a practice that continues to meet us where we are (this point may contradict my next reason…or can it be both?). 

I’m also finding it harder and harder, the more I move around, to find studios that aren’t some version of a Target where as soon as you walk in, there’s apparel everywhere, there’s music blasting, and classes are at least $25. Where it feels like a different version of the same cookie cutter, watered down yoga studio.

And, not to mention, practicing at home through virtual classes also helps motivate me to create a home practice without the screen, since I’ve already cultivated a space where I am on my mat. It feels more organic to roll out my mat in the corner of my office and rest in apanasana for a few minutes (honestly, one of my favorite poses) or go through a few sun salutations of my own accord.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

No matter how much I tried, I was always looking to see what everyone else was doing. Yes, the practice of yoga asks us to go inside and remain equanimous amongst external stimuli. But, honestly, sometimes the sheer knowledge of having other bodies near me can sometimes create this performative practice within me. And, it doesn’t feel good.

Taking a class solo challenges me to push myself without the external comparison. It also allows me to practice based on my energy levels and abilities at that particular time without feeling bad that I might not be able to do everything to my fullest capabilities. Think of the times you may have signed up for a class only to feel too tired or not in the mindset to want to practice. Maybe you decided to cancel the class.

Online yoga allows us to show up exactly the way we are: tired, with yesterday's pajamas still on, teeth not yet brushed or rested, ready to get on the mat, winding down your work day (or anywhere in between). Whatever state or season you're in, this practice isn't about performing and it's certainly not about proving to or pleasing others.

It's a practice for the internal. For tending to the deeper parts of us.

So, what?

This isn’t to put down in-person studios. Friends - I very much understand the appeal of being in community together. The palpable energy created as we move around our mats, chanting and breathing. It really is what brought me into yoga and has kept me here for so long. Community. 

I also believe in the importance of having both environments in your asana practice. Have the studio setting where you can really chat with your local community, maybe even having tea or a meal afterwards. 

AND, have your at-home virtual practice where you get to see fellow students and teachers you haven’t seen in ages or don’t have the ability to practice with on-person. Where you can hop off a call, finish prepping dinner, or take a break from couch time, and then roll out your mat and enjoy an asana class by simply opening up your laptop and clicking a button.  

I'd love to hear your thoughts - are you still taking online yoga or are you totally back to in-person classes? Or both?

Don’t forget!

Three other teachers and myself have created an online yoga co-op to provide nourishing and accessible yoga for all. Sliding scales are offered as well as class packs and monthly memberships. And, classes are recorded, so if you sign up and find you can’t make it (or you know you can’t make the live but still want to take the class), you’ll be sent the recording as soon as the live class is done.

I'm currently teaching twice a week and subbing classes where I can. I hope you'll join me!

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bahvantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free from suffering and may our collective thoughts, words, and actions, both on and off the mat, somehow contribute to that freedom and happiness for all.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Peace. Peace. Peace

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