Online v.s. In-Person Yoga Instruction
The rise in free online resources for a yoga practice has opened the world of yoga to more people than ever and this is fantastic! However, relying entirely on these resources may cause you to miss out on an integral part of your yoga practice, especially if you are a beginner to yoga. Participating in a live yoga class with a certified yoga instructor offers so many benefits both physically and spiritually to beginners of yoga.
In a live class, a yoga teacher is able to check in with his/her students at the opening of each class regarding any injuries (new or old) that a student may be working with. Given this information, the yoga teacher can offer personalized attention, in terms of modifications and adaptations to promote a safer practice for each student. Physical and verbal cueing of the asanas, as well as the teacher modeling the importance of alignment, are means of injury prevention, and is a crucial element for a yoga student’s well-being. Being able to see the subtleties of yoga in a hands-on class is so important for yogi’s of all stages, but especially for beginners. Oftentimes the smallest hands-on adjustment makes an enormous difference to your alignment and how a pose feels.
It is also essential to have a live certified yoga teacher to demonstrate and explain the subtleties of each yoga pose. You can ask questions and receive instant feedback makes for a more complete and safe practice. Beginning students utilizing online resources may end up compromising form to perform a desired posture. There is also a risk that they may disregard the progressions required to safely perform any given posture. Furthermore, a self-directed practise with online resources may contribute to the development of poor habits which will later be hard to break. An online practice provides no opportunity for the student to be observed, corrected, and supported.
Our world currently connects to others in so many artificial ways via text, email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. A live class offers the opportunity to connect with other yogis and develop a deep sense of community that many people lack in the world today. Being part of a room full of people of different ages, body types, different levels of fitness and abilities creates a one of a kind environment that promotes self-acceptance, celebrates uniqueness, and honors each individual. One can certainly read copious amounts of material online about yoga history and philosophy, but it is only words and information unless you are able to pair those teachings with an experienced guide to get a true sense of yogic mentality. One can “know” the information but unless one “lives it”, experiences it and shares it as part of a conscious community the point of all that knowledge is mute.
There is a “sense” while doing yoga in a live group that cannot be duplicated by other means. Perhaps it is the exercise of being present in your own body and drawing your senses within; perhaps it is the result of focusing on your own practice, and not what others are doing; perhaps it is allowing the outside world to float away, or the pairing of the breath and movement as a collective group; perhaps it is the flow of energy in the class, or that “ah-ha” moment when your yoga teacher served as a source of inspiration to you; perhaps it is the sangha, the sharing of your yoga journey with others in an atmosphere that honors all that creates this unique feeling. But whatever it is, there is a special “something” that magically happens at the end of each group yoga class – a sense of peace, self-love, gratitude and acceptance. Trying to achieve all of these feelings by yourself is like trying to swim against the current, never getting as far as you had hoped.
Online yoga classes serve a purpose in today’s busy world. As a starting point, they can be a meaningful supplement to a practice. However, they are not a replacement for live training, which offers a deeper experience, a focus on injury prevention, and a strong sense of peace and community. Live yoga classes offer a different level of yoga experience that could never be replicated online.
Author: Natalie Shoemaker
Editor: Laura Phelps