When you think e-learning, you might picture hard-working professionals taking classes in their spare time, or maybe ambitious high-school students tuning into lectures to prepare themselves for college. But all kinds of classes have gone digital, including popular sports like tennis, golf, skiing and snowboarding. Yoga, having come of age at the same time as the Internet, has great e-learning opportunities, from podcasts and classes, to clinics and workshops, all available from the comfort of your home (or wherever you and your laptop happen to be).
But first, a (good) question: Is it a good idea to learn something physical through what is the very nonphysical medium of the computer? Simon Apter, a Jivamukti yoga instructor, suggests that if you are looking into online yoga classes, you should be cautious. “Because home-practice is unsupervised by a trained professional, it’s advisable to stick to a method or style that’s familiar to you when you choose an online class,” advises Apter. So your first classes should be done in a studio or with an experienced yoga teacher in person.
Yoga is definitely a 3-D activity, so in addition to getting specific corrections, learning how to do any style of yoga in person will help you get the 360-degree picture in your mind of what you are ultimately striving for with the pose. And if you have injuries or are new to yoga, a teacher can show you how to make modifications for your body that can eventually help you achieve the pose, or even if it doesn’t look like it, the benefits, many of which are internal and invisible. As Apter points out, “You might be able to drive an automatic transmission with your eyes closed, but it’s safer for everyone on the road, including you, if you locate an instructor to teach you how to drive stick.”
Podcasts are an increasingly popular option for e-learning and are great for those with low-bandwidth or disconnected times. But again, having a solid grasp of how to perform poses, before you use a podcast, will keep you from injuring yourself (or growing frustrated). “In the case of audio-only podcasts, not being able to see what your virtual teacher is doing can wreck your flow if you mishear a garbled or inaudible instruction and have to improvise,” Apter says.
Once you have a solid grounding in a yoga practice (and have found a style that suits you and feel confident about DIYing classes), there are a plethora of options. For free classes, search on YouTube. You can find specific types of yoga for sports, or for different yoga methods; you can search for a famous teacher you may have heard of, or just explore around.
Two excellent sites that provide really high-quality yoga classes for a fee are Yogaglo and My Yoga Online. You can also find teachers who offer their classes (usually behind a pay wall) online, or check with your local yoga school or center.
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