Most people I know who are really into yoga, meditation, and living a more conscious life are pretty moderate in their TV watching. It’s not that we don’t enjoy an entertainment escape now and then, it’s just that mindlessly consuming lots of TV can feel… icky. Like eating too much cake, it’s kind of antithetical to being in touch with your body, mind, and spirit. Which is why it’s so counterintuitively interesting to see yoga popping up more and more on TV, which these days also means online. Now, instead of just using it to numb out, we can actually harness this medium to move, breathe, and explore our practice. Though nothing compares to an actual, supportive teacher who knows your name and hamstrings, it’s a pretty brilliant innovation for the modern yogi. Weather- and time-related excuses be gone! Here’s a collection of next-best classes when the studio is out of reach.
First, we’ve got Sadie Nardini’s show, Rock Your Yoga, which launched in May on Veria, a health-related station offered by a handful of cable and satellite companies. It’s billed as a “yoga reality show,” but when I watched one episode (Veria sent it to me; NYC doesn’t get the station) and dropped by Sadie filming another live, it looked more like a straight-up yoga class, plus tips and occasional guest spots. Sadie is awesome, though, and the hour-long show offers an invigorating daily vinyasa dip. Plus, the students are real and refreshingly unrehearsed; watching people who don’t look like movie stars spontaneously move their bodies is inspiring. Check out this link for showtimes and to see clips.
Second, is Kurt Johnsen’s show, Yoga for Life, also on Veria. (The station bumped him to an earlier slot when they started airing Sadie’s show, inspiring an eruption of non-yogic viewer tantrums.) You can also catch his show online—lots of episodes are up and free for the watching. He’s got a mellow-yet-intense buff-yoga-guy vibe and offers easy-to-follow instruction. Again, it’s less of a “show” and more of a yoga class on TV. Go here for showtimes and to see clips.
Then there’s Canada’s Namaste Yoga, a lushly produced show available on DVD in 22-minute episodes. (If you’re in Canada you can watch it on the ONE station.) Filmed in gorgeous locations in and near Vancouver, the show is populated by yoga babes in tiny tops and tight pants, and the camera does lots of full-body pans. (I’m guessing breathing deeply isn’t the only reason the preview has been watched more than a million times on YouTube). Teacher Kate Potter’s narration guides the classes with clear, specific instruction (though I can’t comment on the flow—I wasn’t able to watch a whole episode without buying a DVD). Check out NamasteTV to see clips and buy DVDs with full episodes.
Moving further into yoga-classes-online territory opens up a whole world, one too large to cover completely here, but my favorite is YogaGlo. Though it’s $18 a month, I’m a convert to the subscription model. That’s the cost of one average class here in New York (yikes, I know), so if I use it more than twice a month I feel good. And I usually do, because classes with some of my favorite teachers, such as Elena Brower, Kathryn Budig, and Amy Ippoliti, feel like I’ve invited them into my living room. (Sorry for the clutter, ladies!) And the way these are filmed really makes it feel as though I’m in a class—albeit at the back of the room. You can easily choose your session by length, style, teacher, etc. (I geekily worship their site’s information architecture; many could learn from them.) Go to YogaGlo.com to preview episodes and subscribe.
Yoga Journal is in the nascent stages of its online yoga video offerings. But already they have top-tier teachers (Shiva, Baron, Kathryn) and offer great, helpful stuff—like a clip of just Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) A and B (which I constantly jumble on my own), plus classes up to 35 minutes long. Navigation can be a bear, but it’s worth breathing through for some excellent content. Check out Yoga Journal.com’s video area for free streaming classes and clips.
Finally, there’s Gaiam TV, another subscription service, which offers original programming, plus excerpts of DVDs with top teachers like Rodney Yee and Seane Corn. It’s a sweet blend of beautiful scenery and fantastic instructors with a solid selection—though finding what you want can be clunky. If you’re really going to use it, it’s a deal at $9.95 a month. See previews and sign up at GaiamTV.com.
No yoga TV story would be complete without a namaste to the woman who started it all—Lilias Folan. She launched her PBS series, Lilias! Yoga and You, in 1972, helping to touch off the first sparks of the yoga fire, on TV and well, well beyond. And now in her 70s, she’s still teaching. Though she’s not on TV anymore, you can catch Lilias teaching at Kripalu this summer.
What are your top choices for virtual yoga?