Yoga has made it through countless iterations, traditions, locations, and cultures. Like nature, it seems to always find a way. With the massive impact that covid-19 had on the yoga world, we have to wonder, can we still keep the practice alive?
Since early 2020, yoga classes quickly moved into – and have become more firmly planted in – digital spaces. Most yoga studios closed at least temporarily (RIP permanently closed studios). As the world hopefully continues to open back up, what will happen to the digital parts of the practice?
Well, they’re not going anywhere. The accessibility of digital yoga is too profound to ignore. And because of the accessibility, there are more people doing yoga. There’s no rush to the studio or getting stuck in traffic, fewer child care concerns, and there are often financial benefits for students to practice from home.
If people are still practicing – yoga must still be alive. However, it’s important to ask, what kind of yoga is still alive? And is it yoga that will be of benefit to the practitioner?
Let’s make the case that to receive yoga’s true benefits, a yoga student must occasionally be seen by the teacher, whether that is through Zoom or in person rather than watching on-demand classes or livestream with their video off.
In order to keep yoga alive through the digital era and reap the most benefit from the practice, we recommend the following:
- Practice in a way that your teacher and others can see you. Seeing and being seen (darshan) is a vital part of yoga practice because yoga is ultimately about connection and receiving feedback from your teacher so you can grow and evolve.
- Take classes from teachers who teach interactively. The norm on Zoom these days is what you might call “demonstrative” teaching, where the teacher practices with the students as an example to reference throughout class. Interactive teaching on the other hand is where the teacher is at their device and watches students most or all of the class, giving feedback and verbal adjustments. Interactive teaching will keep you much more “in the game” and in relationship.
- Connect to the community online or in person. When your video is off all the time it’s like doing yoga in a vacuum (or literal cave) — and that never helped the world. Yoga means union and connection – find it where you can! Take a live-stream class with a friend. Show up a little bit early or stay late to livestream classes so you can chat with others. Commit to on-demand yoga classes with a group, then connect in person or digitally after practicing.
- Find the balance that works for you. If this month is all digital practices, good on you for continuing your practice. If next month means some in-person classes, even better!