Monday 29 May 2017

Fit to be tried: Online yoga

Amanda Phelan

IT'S not often you get to heckle during a yoga class, especially when it involves a sitting meditation with the earnest title of Living Wisdom -- Embracing Change.

But heckle I do, slagging the instructor, who doesn't bat an eyelid.

Then it's time to leave him and his white robes and headband, and switch to a not-so-gentle Vinyasa Flow class, called Find Your L-Shape -- yay, I got it, the L is for love handles, right? Wrong, this means you perform tricky handstands.

Welcome to online yoga -- the latest trend to emerge from the blending of fitness and the internet. Where from? Los Angeles of course, that prism of jostling escapism where the pace means many of the locals are driven to seek the health equivalent of a decompression chamber.

At least you can do the class not wearing the latest yoga gear, but in your pyjamas -- all the better to sneak a sip of morning tea and a mouthful of toast and marmalade between the asanas.

So many people now do yoga online. You start when it suits you, no one sees if your squats aren't perfect, and you can give the instructor cheek.

YogaGlo is one of the better options to help you bring your slice of serenity with you during travel, or you can use it at home -- as does one enthusiastic American blogger, who claims she switches on to a class as soon as she wakes up.

The Santa Monica-based studio's online video selection stream is worth any yoga fan's attention. For less than $US20 a month, members get access to dozens of new classes that are sent to your computer from a camera set up in the yoga studio.

The classes are regularly updated and feature several styles, including Vinyasa Flow, Anusara, pre- and post-natal yoga, and Hatha at varying skill levels. You can get feedback -- through YogaGlo's website you can chat with the instructors, join in forum discussions and track the time spent practising.

During my free trial, there was a good range to choose from, including a shoulder-opening class (great for jet-lag), a meditation session teaching that life is a moveable feast (okay, so change isn't my strong point) and a more challenging class involving handstands that I did, and only later noticed it's designed for advanced students.

The idea is to get yoga out there to more people, says YogaGlo founder Derik Mills, an American who graduated with a degree in chemistry and psychology in 1996.

He became a fan of yoga during his student days, and when he was rushing to a class one day and wishing the instructors were portable, he came up with the idea of online yoga.

The range of classes covers the spectrum of asana styles -- meditation, lectures, workshops and special topics such as insomnia -- and they're open to anyone, anywhere.

Mostly it works well. But they're American, so there's no humour in the sessions, and you'd miss the Irish craic when you're doing a 'move to music' or a 'hip, hip hooray' class.

And if you're at home, you can find your children or partner hooting with laughter when you practise your basic 'Opening Our Eyes' exercise, but a well-aimed pillow should stop this. Another good tip is to turn off your phone.

But I'm a big yoga fan, and of all the exercise options now on offer, this has to be the most beneficial. With YogaGlo you get a free trial, and an amazing array of instructors and styles of yoga for only around €12.50 a month.

Now that's something to sing Om about.

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