Now that we’ve gotten your sacred space squared away, it’s time to select the right teacher based on your preferred yoga style. In the face of recent global events, many yoga studios were forced to close and haven’t been able to reopen. Or have reopened to strict guidelines for offering in-person classes. With that said, many independent yoga teachers and/or yoga studios have moved their classes online. Unfortunately, not all of these yoga teachers are tech-savvy, which could damper even the best teaching styles. Unless you have a preferred yoga teacher from your previous in-person classes who transitioned online, or perhaps you’re a yoga newbie, here are a few things to consider for doing yoga at home until you can return to a physical studio if desired. It really boils down to whether or not you want a yoga experience that’s passive or active.
Passive or Active Yoga Classes?
A passive experience would be going at it alone through free yoga videos online – say on YouTube via channels like Yoga by Adrienne, Body Positive Yoga, or Yoga with Kassandra – or through a paid streaming services like Yoga Download, Gaia, Glo, or YogiApproved. These outlets typically offer a one-way approach meaning you never meet or have any personal interaction with your teacher and that’s by design. On the other hand, a more active approach would involve finding a yoga teacher that has an established professional online presence and who hosts live virtual yoga classes (through a secure video platform) and/or offers private access to on-demand yoga-related content. (If you missed the whole Zoom debacle, you can company president’s response right here.) The latter teacher often offers subscription packages. But be sure to check and see if the package entails any direct contact with your yoga teacher if that’s important to you.
Credentialed or Not?
Although I (Jaketha) have completed a pre-COVID yoga teacher training (YTT) and I’m registered with Yoga Alliance as a 200-hour, registered yoga teacher (RYT-200), not all yoga teachers have followed the same path. Some yoga teachers have either never been through YTT. Others have completed it but chose not to register with Yoga Alliance. Honestly, it’s really about personal preference. Some yoga studios may or may not require their teachers to be credentialed. Having completed a YTT doesn’t make you a perfect teacher just as not having completed one makes you a bad teacher. It really boils down to their personality style, years of practice, and/or teaching ability – or should I say their relate-ability, right?
What’s the Right Amount of Experience?
Honestly, my first time doing yoga was the first day I showed up for YTT – yes, you read that correctly. I had never, ever step foot in a yoga class prior to that day of YTT. Crazy, right?!? I hadn’t even watched yoga – not online or via a VHS, CD-ROM, DVD – nothing. I didn’t know what an asana was, what pranayama involved, but I was tired and tickled pink when it was time for Savasana. To make matters worse, I was totally out of shape. I wasn’t even the exercise type. Power walking maybe, but gyms – no way. So, needless to say, the overall experience was great at times but was also quite overwhelming and disappointing. (Honestly, I wanted to quit the first weekend.)
As an African-American in my mid-40s, there were a lot of things I came to hate about yoga. First, I was taken aback by the limited representation of minorities. There was one other black female in that class. On top of that, most of them wore a size zero and seemed to have been practicing yoga since they came out of the womb. I say that as no disrespect to them as there were a lot of great ladies in that class. But at times, I felt like a fish out of water, an oddball out. I knew others knew I was a fake. Of course, that was no own damn fault. I followed the prompting of Spirit to even have signed up. If I had attended an actual yoga class prior, that would have been my first and last yoga class. But stop and think about what I’ve just shared with you. I was in my mid-40s, “overweight” (size 16), didn’t exercise, had never stepped foot in a yoga studio let alone a yoga class, and I signed up for a nearly nine-month Vinyasa-style YTT program and I finished it. Doesn’t that inspire you especially if you’re a newbie to yoga?!?
Unless most heavily experience yoga teachers, I can relate to being intimidated by the others in the class based on being a minority as it related to my ethnicity, skill level, and bodily appearance. ‘Til this day, I can’t do complex yoga poses like handstands – but I still must be familiar enough with it to assist you. Honestly, advanced poses shouldn’t be done via an online class unless it’s a position you are already able to do safely or have been safely practicing on during your own personal practice time. So unless you are looking for a yoga teacher who can match your skill level – Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced and style, then most women – those who aren’t yoga guru (yogis) should consider a yoga teacher whose relatable to them right where they are.