I didn’t like yoga when I first started. I saw my efforts in it as a lost cause. I’d never been able to touch my toes. I had poor balance. I didn’t like the idea of being bad at something, especially publicly and surrounded by people all good at said thing. And yoga classes can be expensive.
So for the first three years I was what you might call an ‘opportunistic’ yoga student – as in, I went to classes when I had a Groupon or when free classes were offered. Which meant that on average I was going once or twice a month – not nearly frequent enough to make any meaningful progress. For that, you need a daily (or close to daily) practice.
I now do yoga on an (almost) daily basis and love it. It’s one of the few things that I’ve been able to maintain on a consistent basis, because it’s actually genuinely enjoyable for me.
What made yoga so much more accessible and enjoyable for me was the discovery of the wealth of yoga teachers and classes available through YouTube.
I love YouTube yoga because,
- It saves time – there is no time lost in commuting.
- The choice. You can choose which class style and class length you’re in the mood for that day. Whether you want something more vigorous or light or a focus specifically on hip openers, there’s so much choice available as compared to the range of options typically offered physically in your area on that day.
- There’s less comparisons/pressure – it’s just you. I will say that for the most part the yoga class environment is exceptionally non-judgmental and not competitive. But it can sometimes still be hard to remind yourself not to compare yourself to your neighbor or to worry about how silly you look as you fall out of a succession of poses. At home, it really is just you.
- The cost. Full length yoga class videos are completely free. Although, to the extent that you’re able to, it’s always good to support your favorite teachers through donations.
All that said, I still like attending classes in a studio from time to time. Especially when you’re just starting, it’s important to get feedback on your alignment and to make sure you’re holding your poses correctly. There’s no feedback from a video and you risk hurting yourself if you don’t solicit in person advice and correction from time to time and especially as you learn new poses.
I have tried a lot of different YouTube channels and instructors for my classes. Below I’ve listed my favorites. Everyone will have different tastes and preferences. For me, I prefer classes that have a constant, quickly paced flow. I also look for classes and instructors that focus on building upper body and core strength.
I love Erin’s classes for their variety and creativity. Each class seems different and not just a repetition of sun salutations. She is creative and has a wide range of interesting classes – from mellow practices that are accompanied by live guitar music to very focused classes that concentrate on different muscle groups to intense classes where weights are used during a vinyasa flow. She’s one of my favorites, and I couldn’t recommended her channel more highly.
Tim is probably the best I’ve come across (also considering live in studio classes) in terms of giving great alignment cues. It’s with Tim that I notice small adjustments I can make to my poses. And it’s because of his ability to cue that I often find myself reaching new poses for the first time through his videos (first crow pose, first headstand). He also has a very calming presence. Of his videos, I prefer the ones where he is performing the poses (as opposed to when he guides someone else).
Lesley’s classes are great in that they combine intensity and vigorousness with compassion and mindfulness. Throughout the classes as she guides us through the poses, she gives reminders of self-love and self-care. She really embodies what yoga can be in a holistic way – as a way of living and thinking – rather than just a means of exercise. During shavasana (corpse pose), she always has well-picked, grounding quotes. All that said, her classes are still challenging and strength building.
Other Noteworthy Channels