Until last March, I didn't think I had a reason to pursue a home practice. I was very consistent both teaching and practicing at my local studios. I loved meeting new people and talking to fellow teachers and other yogis at the studio. Nevertheless, months after the forced change, I have begun to embrace the many benefits of a home practice.
Safety - The truth is, we have always known that infections and diseases can pass easier through groups of people in close quarters. Generally, sick people are expected to stay home and out of studios and gyms and in my experience, most people comply. The current problem is that Covid-19 is still new and evolving and we do not yet have the handle on it. We can transmit it without even realizing we have it. This is not to suggest that no one should practice in a studio now but rather that those who are compromised or have contact with others who are compromised can rest assured that a home yoga practice is the safest way to until we know more.
Time - It's simple. Rolling out your mat to practice in your own home is time in your pocket. We can make more money, we can buy more stuff, but we will never be able to create more time so each and every little bit we get is truly a gift. A home practice eliminates driving time, parking time, locker room time, and the reverse after class. If you are seeking a yoga practice that takes less of your time, eliminating travel may be your answer.
Ease of practice - Ties in closely with time. One could easily wake up at 6:50 and step into a Zoom yoga class by 7:00. Still in your PJ's with bedhead? Haven't showered or even brushed your teeth and feel gross? No worries, leave your camera off if you want to! Running 5 minutes late? No problem, the doors in a Zoom room don't lock you out. (We all know the feeling of needing a class badly and reaching for that studio door 5 minutes late...)
Expanded Reach - We can now practice together from any location with WiFi and we do! Distance and circumstances are no longer the barriers they once were in our yoga community. Family members and friends from different locations can practice together too. We can practice together during times we normally couldn't. The most heartwarming example I have is a friend who was able to practice from her husband's hospital room while he was going through cancer treatments. She not only practiced, she stayed connected with her yoga community and it was beneficial for her and for her spouse as well.
Cost - Practicing yoga online is affordable. First, there are thousands of YouTube videos that are FREE. You cannot get more affordable than free! However, If you crave an online yoga community with regular classes, you will likely pay, but it will be significantly less than practicing in a studio. Most online yoga studios offer various class and payment options, (yes, mine included). Some people are now buying 2-3 online fitness/yoga memberships or packages for the same price (or less) as one live membership. Diversity they can afford. Many online teachers of today are well-respected studio teachers who have who have recreated themselves online during the pandemic and in the process, become more affordable. Potentially a big bonus for yogis to take advantage of.
Flexibility - No plans required. You can decide to practice in a moment's notice. You can leave class early without bothering anyone. You can choose the music you play or just practice in silence. (Unless your teacher pumps it straight to class, which some do). You can also practice next to your dog, your husband or wife, your kids, and even your cat. If you dare. (I could write a whole article on Catmatantics). A home practice can also be more authentic simply because we are each alone in our own space and less affected by the practices of the ego.
Detachment - Practicing yoga online supports this integral philosophy of yoga. Most of us built our practice to a certain point in the studio and when life shut down instantly last March we expected our home practice to mirror our studio one. When it didn't, we got frustrated. Realistically, it would be like expecting our new car to drive like our old one, our new house to feel like our old one, and our second child to be a carbon copy of our first one. Perhaps we simply need to give ourselves time to shift, regroup, and relearn. If we want to practice yoga and aren't comfortable going to a studio, we have to disconnect the yoga from the location and open our eyes to a new way of practicing. It's still yoga and it's ours for the taking, whether we are in a studio, at home, on a mountain, or in the middle of a pasture. We have to remember that.
I lost my crystal ball last week so I can no longer predict the future. I don't know whether studios will stay open or not. I hope the ones that have survived begin to thrive again. Together, we collectively offer more people a chance to practice than each of us alone.
I am happy to be on the ground floor of this new online yoga movement because I see that it has truly expanded the reach of yoga. Each yoga tradition (Hot, Hatha, Power, Yin, and the list goes on) popped up over the years to present the benefits of yoga in new ways. Online practicing and teaching is the same thing. It was born out of necessity to meet the needs of a certain group of people and it not only sustained many of us, it has expanded us. We stayed connected during times we normally wouldn't (the pandemic, vacations, illnesses, injuries, company visiting, etc). Distance has ceased to be a factor.
When the pandemic has calmed, I suspect that things will shift again. Some people will return to studios but many will continue to enjoy the convenience, flexibility, and affordability of a home practice because we have recognized the benefits of practicing as a community aren't limited to distance or specific location.
Over time, we have found that we can still breathe together while we are miles apart, This is a gift many of us didn't recognize we could have until we were forced to.