Before Corona, I was a yoga snob in that I assumed online yoga could never measure up to taking a class in person. I was sure my motivation was dependent on the physical-social element of practicing along side other people— and that yoga was one of those activities that would not translate well to virtual formats.
Wow was I wrong. Once live yoga (rather than pre-recorded classes) became more widely available online in response to the pandemic, I found it was very well suited to bridging the gap between technology and connectivity, and I’ve learned to love it. No more rushing to class, trying to find space in a crowded room, on- and off-loading of layers of clothes and waiting in line for the restroom. All that’s required is a little space, a mat and an Internet connection.
It’s true we may not get to know the teacher as well as we would in person. Nor have I been able to chat with fellow yogis with the same ease, but that time and energy now gets redirected to the practice itself and that focus has been a goddess-send during Corona, when it could be argued, we need yoga the most. Switching to tele-yoga to reduce stress during COVID-19 is proving effective.
And in such times, the act of joining in a class in of itself has been surprisingly good for creating community. I am constantly reminded that everyone else in the class is also facing the same challenges of living in relative isolation. Many of us thus feel stronger bonds with fellow practitioner and we appreciate our access classes even more.
These bonds are particularly important during the holiday season when most of us will either be alone or will remain in our tiny, existing bubble of personal contacts through the new year. Yoga provides us company and restores or creates a sense of normalcy and a committed routine that helps combat loneliness. Not to mention the escape it offers those of us in lockdown in wintery, gray hemispheres, where exercising outdoors can be unpleasant. Online yoga is a warm and cozy alternative to freezing temps and whipping winds.
Yoga’s also a game changer in breaking the cycle between low-quality sleep from the stress of Corona, which often leads to more cortisol in the system and carb-heavier eating—both of which increase blood sugar. Yoga, specifically, compared with other kinds of fitness regimes, emphasizes a progressive form of stretching and muscle relaxation, as well as the controlled and deep breathing associated with meditation, all of which lead to better sleep. And good sleep, in turn, lowers the risk for type 2, cutting the risk of insulin resistance in half, which is why we need to add it as a fourth pillar to our the malleable factors of exercise, diet and stress.
People who adhere to the traditional role of yoga based on its ancient inception in India can be critical of its adoption for fitness and health goals rather than for its intended spirituality. This is understandable. But even if the initial drive to practice is for your body, practicing still benefits the health and fitness of your spirituality.