I believe that learning any skill or discipline requires dedication, a lot of practice, patience, and, most importantly, passion. Yoga is first and foremost a philosophy, it is a lot more than the sequence of asanas and breathing practices. Most people start their yoga journey by taking group classes in a yoga studio or online. And many of them limit their yoga practice to only physical exercise- a sequence of poses linked together with breath. For me personally though, the definition of successful yoga journey is a person’s ability to integrate yoga into their life outside yoga classes by adapting a yogic lifestyle. Learning yoga is about learning how to cultivate inner peace, or sattva, that in Sanskrit means purity, harmony, and balance. Yoga teaches us to connect to our higher self, develop strength, focused mind, balance, and resilience towards obstacles on the mat or in life.
Now you ask me- can you develop your inner yogi by using online platforms? I believe so. Can you find a book or two to read online about yoga philosophy? Yes! Can you find educational videos on yoga philosophy? Sure! Can you join virtual live or pre-recorded yoga classes? Absolutely. Can you find an online yoga teacher to help you on your journey? Of course! Many yoga teachers, including myself, have been transitioning to online coaching for the past several years, and even more so recently, since the beginning of 2020. Almost every yoga teacher I know have been teaching Zoom live classes or Instagram live classes as substitutes for in-studio classes during the pandemic.
However, the main question here is what will get you passionate about yoga in the very first place and why do you want to do it? Can a book, or a virtual yoga class ignite a life-long journey of a new yogi??? For some reason, my intuition tells me that for most people, it won’t be the case. If yoga is about becoming a better version of yourself and obtaining a new outlook on the world, then what can really get us excited about changing our lifestyle is an example that somebody else sets in front of us, a personal experience of somebody close to us or somebody important to us- maybe a family member, a friend, a co-worker? I think it takes a deep personal connection with another human being to make a sea change in our own life such as adapting a new lifestyle.
In my case, it was not a specific person per se, but the entire environment I found myself in 8 years ago when I moved to Santa Monica from Moscow. The abundance of yoga studios, health food stores, vegan/vegetarian restaurants, the community of Santa Monica Muscle Beach- all these factors in combination were very favorable for me to adapt a new lifestyle . I re-discovered myself through practicing yoga , changing my diet, learning about sustainability , Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, mushrooms… the list goes on . Today I am very passionate about longevity and face massages 😉
My example shows that it was definitely in-person interactions and a very special community that originally made me fall in love with yoga. Online learning is a very valuable but not sufficient tool , in my opinion, because the main yoga practice is actually outside the mat, or the virtual space- it is in your day to day choices.