Do you remember your first yoga class? It usually makes an impression.
We are the fortunate recipients of an ancient practice that has traversed time and countries to land at our doorsteps, even at our fingertips. Whenever and however we practice yoga, we become part of a venerable, healing, unifying, honored tradition.
And it's never been more popular than now.
There's something irresistibly magnetic about yoga beyond its stretching and strengthening powers. I think it's the subtle power of a regular practice to transform not only our bodies, but also our deep-seeded attitudes and beliefs. On our mats, we are able to tap into the inherent peace of mind we often lose track of through our busy days.
Peace of mind. That's not something we often find at our local gym.
True to its flexible nature, yoga continues to keep up with our changing times. While yoga was originally passed on from guru to student in a sacred oral tradition, we find ourselves in societies and lives nowadays that move at a much faster pace than 5th century India.
Another modern shift is the number of women practicing yoga. Yoga originally was only practiced by men, but this is no longer the case. Today, of the estimated 15 million Americans that practice yoga, 72 percent are female.
The options for yoga in our modern day seem to be expanding exponentially. There's plenty of variety to satisfy any taste. Hot yoga, restorative yoga, power yoga, alignment-based yoga, Kundalini yoga, and meditation classes are just a few likely available at your local studio.
Taking it a step farther is the advent of online yoga. So you've only got a 30-minute slot to spare or can't make it out the door in time for your favorite class? Enter the Internet. With its unmatched power of connection, you can be in savasana before you know it.
One leader in the area of online yoga is Gaiam TV. The site offers a large library of online yoga classes taught by experienced teachers such as Kathryn Budig, Amy Ippoliti, and Shiva Rea. They're also dedicated to providing conscious media, something many find desperately lacking in mainstream media.
With all of this change and progress, are we losing touch with the original intent of yoga? Is an online yoga class really the same as a "real" yoga class? I'd say it is, and here's why:
Yoga is an inside job. You can do it anywhere, even if you can't physically move your body. You can move your mind. And isn't that the bottom line?
That being said, good teachers are invaluable because they teach us proper form, inspire us, and often show us what we're truly capable of. A real conversation or hands-on adjustment by an experienced, live teacher is invaluable.
How or where you practice yoga is an individual call, based on your personal circumstances. And wherever you are now will likely be different in five years.
Having yoga available in so many forms, in a variety of formats and locations, is a luxury of living in the 21st century. It allows us to truly listen to our bodies and choose a practice that provides what we need at the time.
Many yoga studios offer classes from a variety of teachers. There's something to be learned from every one of them. The beauty of online yoga classes is that it opens the door to practicing with renowned teachers that we might never otherwise be able to experience.
The gift of yoga is really the gift of ourselves. By meeting ourselves on our mats, we meet the world and our families from a more complete place, able to give our heart and soul to everyone we meet and everything we do. We find ourselves interacting with ourselves and others from a place of openness, love, and stability.
What's your preferred way to practice? A yoga studio, a home practice, or an online class? Share your comments below!
Monique Minahan is a writer, yogi, and lover of life. She's inspired by nature's simplicity and the healing power of love. She finds true liberation in living life fully from the inside out. Her intention is to offer her heart to the world through words that motivate, inspire, and encourage. You can visit her at her blog, mindfulmo.com
Read more by Intent here.