what we lose when yoga goes digital
First - Don't get me wrong. Yes, online yoga can be an amazing resource. It's a way to bring the teachers and the teachings to you. It can serve up a class at the time of day or night that's most convenient for you. It can be a great support in-between classes. It can make a home practice easier and more accessible for more levels of practitioners. Sounds pretty good, right?
And - what's the trade off? What do we sacrifice when our practice becomes more and more digital? What do we trade off as we move out of the space of in-person classes, private sessions, workshops, and trainings and into a one-on-one session with our digital device?
- A teacher that sees us. Teachers are there to hold up a mirror for us as students. They can see our alignment, help us modify a pose, or re-language something to help us really hear it. They help us access the deeper aspects of poses. They help us practice in physically safe ways. They observe our asana and pranayama to make sure we're accessing all the potential benefits of any given technique. They see where we struggle and support us in softening or invite into our growth zone. They should be constantly reading the energy in a room to respond in kind with their teaching.
- A group that holds us. I'm a believer that the root cause of a lot of what ails us today, is a lack of connection. Yes, maybe some of those classmates annoy you, but they also inspire you, hold space for you, help hold you up when you need it - and you do the same for them. As anyone who has ever done an online yoga practice can tell you, if there's no one else in the room, it's easy enough to get distracted, or even call it quits when we get discouraged. In a similar situation in a class setting, the kula that has gathered usually keeps us present and practicing.
- A community that supports us. Seeing the same faces each week in a class setting fosters connection. You learn faces, then names, eventually learning about each others lives. You enter into the support of a group of practitioners that are walking the path of yoga too. You inspire and support each other as you endeavor to take your practice off the mat and into the world.
I certainly think there is a place for and value in both in-person and online practices. I have offered online practices, and have participated in online offerings. The question for me is, as the world and our lives become more and more digital, what are the gifts to be received by plugging into in-person practice with our teacher and fellow yogis by our side (and turning off our devices for a while). I'd love to hear your thoughts on digital vs. online practice in the comments below. Practice on, yogis.
on the path,