So for the past few weeks, I’ve been doing yoga in my kitchen. A lot of yoga in my kitchen. Through the powers of the search engine that is Google, I discovered YogaDownload.com, an online community that offers yoga podcasts. I liked that the classes were plentiful and diverse and — best of all — they had several free 20 minute classes you could download and try out.
I immediately downloaded all the 20 minute classes that appealed to me. (Their list of free classes is here.) 38 in total. I haven’t yet to to all 38. My go-to is their 25 minute “yoga for runners” class. I’ve done their “mat pilates” class a handful of times. When I want something more chill, I put on one of the hatha flow options. It’s worked out pretty well (full pros and cons to be listed below), so when I got an email from Yoga Download saying their yearly membership was 30% off — which meant for $60 I could have unlimited yoga downloads for a year — I figured why not try it? Even if I got a handful of go-to classes longer than 20 minutes out of it, it would be worth it.
Since I’m now all-in with this yoga from the internet thing, I thought I’d share my pros and cons with you.
Free classes, and lots of them: I never, ever would have paid money to give this a try. The fact they have free classes and a lot of them made it appealing — and gave me the opportunity to thoroughly assess their produce.
Convenience: When I’m training for a race, yoga is the first thing to go when I need to make time for other stuff. The fact that I can wake up, put on coffee and throw my mat down makes all the difference in the world. I don’t have to get dressed, walk to the yoga studio, check in, wait around. With a regular one hour yoga class, the class is an hour and a half of your life, minimum. With this, 20 minutes is 20 minutes.
Speed: I’m the kind of person who feels if I can’t sweat it out for an hour, it’s not worth my time. Having 20 minute podcasts — and only 20 minutes podcasts — taught me that it’s better to incorporate a little bit of yoga in my life when and where I can than not do yoga at all because I can’t make it to class. I spend more time goofing off on the internet. And doing a little yoga more often has helped my running: my knee problems disappeared when I started doing yoga 3-4 times a week, and, in general, I feel stronger and more flexible than I did when I was doing yoga only once a week. (Even if, by math, 3 20-minute classes is the same amount of yoga as 1 60-minute class.)
Flexibility: I can now do yoga wherever I want, whenever I want. I’m already looking forward to summertime flows in my backyard. I’m also looking forward to having more options, time-wise. The classes as part of the membership range from 20 minutes to 70 minutes.
Choice: This website has so many classes, instructors and different kinds of yoga. I was grateful that I didn’t have to buy into a single instructor in order to get free yoga from the internet.
I feel less zen: Now, I’m not sure if this is because the classes I’ve done so far are only 20 minutes or because I’m doing yoga in my kitchen with cats clawing at my pony tail, but I have yet to get the blissed-out yoga feeling I have gotten at Kula.
No teacherly connection: The teacher is just a voice coming through my speaker. There’s no personality, no jokes, no special attention. While this doesn’t bother me that much (and isn’t that different from some of the generic classes I’ve taken), it’s made me realize the value in a teacher you create a powerful connection with.
No guidance: If you don’t know how to do a pose, too bad. If you are doing a pose wrong, too bad. Even the most beginner level podcasts expect a basic understanding of yoga and how to do the essential postures. I would not recommend these to a newbie yogi. This is also why when I put on a more advanced podcast, make no attempt to try the Bird’s of Paradise pose — I’m not going to risk my health and safety for the sake of a yoga pose. I’ll save that for actual classes.
I don’t work as hard: This is true for all fitness for me, not just yoga. Without an audience or a buddy, I’ll only work half as hard as I should, because I can.
In sum, these podcasts aren’t a replacement for my regular yoga practice. But they are a good stop-gap until life settles down a bit — and a good bandage for when I’m too tired/lazy/late for a traditional class. I just downloaded 25 new classes — we’ll see if fitting in the 45 minute classes in my daily life will be as painless and fitting in the 20 minute classes.