I Have Just Returned from 10 Days of Silence. . .
I woke up at 4 a.m., meditated a total of 11 hours, and ate my last meal of the day at 11 ...
Two years of isolation and separation during the peak of the covid pandemic has changed the way we move and the way we connect with each other. The in-person yoga class remains a wonderful practice; it can be helpful to share physical space with a fully embodied and like-minded community where someone else is watching the time.
When we practice online, it can be really hard to avoid the temptation of the laundry, the dishes, or whatever else we have to do. We often miss the feeling of breathing with a group, experiencing hands-on adjustments from a teacher we love, and hearing that special tone that emerges when a group of us “om” together.
On the other hand, the massive shift to remote work, exercise, and play has been highly beneficial for many of us, especially if we live in a remote location or simply don’t want to take the risk of breathing viruses in a room full of others. There are some real positives to moving your practice online.
Both real and virtual yoga have pros and cons, and both allow us to stay connected to ourselves, each other, and our practice.
So, which is best? Whichever class you can start right now.
You can’t beat the location of an online yoga class, which is anywhere with Wi-Fi. With some searching, you can find teachers and classes pretty much anytime and in any style and any language you know (or are trying to learn).
Yoga spaces can sometimes feel like they are only designed for thin, young, white women, and anyone who doesn’t fit that image can feel out of place or judged. Not so online! Everybody is welcome, and there is even more permission to modify poses and positions according to what works for you. You’re in charge of what’s on the screen. And, of course, you can choose to keep your camera off.
Going to yoga class is both a wonderful ritual and a time-consuming privilege. Depending on where the class is, you may have to travel by bus or car, commute for 30 minutes, arrive 15 minutes early to get your favorite spot, practice for 90 minutes, cool down and chat with the teacher or the other students for 5 minutes, get changed, get back on the bus, and by the time you’re home, it’s been hours. With online yoga, you can finish a work meeting from home, roll out the mat, and be ready to practice right then and there. When the class is done, you’re already home and ready to move onto the next thing. Time is a precious commodity, and not adding travel to our yoga class can make all the difference in the world.
Even if you live somewhere with a dearth of yoga studios, you can practice with the best in the world via the internet. You also don’t have to grieve your favorite yoga teacher when you move away—so long as they teach online, of course.
Of course, the thing we likely miss the most about in-person yoga classes is connection—nothing comes close to sharing physical space with others. Nevertheless, attending a live virtual class is still a powerful way to stay connected with other people. When you attend live rather than watching a recording, you are there with the teacher and students. Most classes allow you to show up a little early and have a quick chat with everyone before your practice starts. That simple moment of checking in and saying hello can go a long way toward feeling connected.
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