Myyogaonline, a website that offers a variety of streaming Yoga classes for a monthly rate, is offering free classes to celebrate National Yoga Month. For purely research purposes, I gave it a shot. I must admit, while creating an account I felt a little dirty, like I do if I go into WalMart or Dunkin Donuts. After all, I love to support my local studios and local yogis. Online Yoga could put my neighbors and friends out of business. Plus, as a teacher myself, I have professed how important face-to-face contact is for effective learning, whether we’re talking about English or Chemistry. But would I make the same claim for Yoga?
After just two weeks I can tell you, Heck Yeah. Sure, online Yoga classes promise to be more convenient, more affordable, and to offer more variety. But they do not provide what I’m going to call the three M’s: Motivation, Modification, Mentoring.
Personally, my major roadblock to establishing a consistent home practice has been motivation. First, there’s simply getting started. “I really need to sleep in that extra hour.” “It’s much more important that I take this time to (clean the house/grade papers/whatever).” Sound familiar? Then, even if I do get started, I’m not always disciplined enough to commit to an hour or 90 minutes. My mind wanders. The phone rings. I get lazy. However, my Yoga community motivates me to attend classes. I want to see my fellow yogis. When I walk into a studio, both the past and the future disappear and I’m able to commit fully to the time the teacher gives me. With others in the room I’m also more likely to get my alignment more precise, hold a pose longer, or experiment with a new pose.
Then there’s modification. A live Yoga instructor is essential to help people working with injuries. Yoga can help heal injuries and an instructor with extensive anatomy knowledge and experience can keep us strong and healthy. Even if you’re not injured, your body is unique; it experiences poses the way no other body does. A good Yoga teacher can make compassionate suggestions for your tight hamstrings, shoulders, and weak lower back. Aimee DeRoehn, who teaches in in Plymouth, NH, observes students as they move through free-style warm up at the start of each class. She then tailors the class to our energy levels and physical needs.
Finally, there’s mentoring. Our communities benefit from the studies of Melissa Scagliarini in Plymouth, NH and Beth Aime Labonte in Concord, NH when they return from intensive work in India. Stacey Gibbons laces her Wolfeboro and Warren classes with tidbits from her specializations in Reiki and Native American Wisdom. Christina Alexa Fortier, in dialogue with her generous students and teachers, scours the region to host yoga-inspired activities at her Meredith, NH studio each month, events that both inspire and reinvigorate personal practice.
So yes, we could save money by taking classes online. But Yoga is about being fully present. And for me, that happens best with the motivation, modification, and mentoring offered in the studios of our White Mountains and Lakes Regions. See you in class.