5 Tips to Get More from Yoga Videos

From variety and convenience to learning from many teachers, Erica Rodefer Winters shares how online yoga videos make her practice better.
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From variety and convenience to learning from many teachers, Erica Rodefer Winters shares how online yoga videos make her practice better.

A while back I shunned yoga videos because I thought they lack the group energy, individual attention, and spontaneity of group classes. Then I moved into a high-traffic area where it took me 30 minutes to get to and from the closest yoga studio. I quickly realized that when I only had time to make it to the studio on the weekend, I could practice by a video at home everyday. It's not the same, but it can be still be really good.

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We live in a wonderful world where information and resources are at our fingertips whenever we have the motivation to search them out. We can find video tutorials on anything from changing the oil in our cars to planting a garden—and there's definitely no shortage of yoga videos out there to help us. From entire 90-minute sequences to short 5-minute stretches you can do at your desk, you can find anything you're looking for in myriad locations, including the YJ.com video section. It makes being a yoga student easier than ever.

Online yoga videos can be a game changer for your practice if you use them in a way that enhances your yoga practice and motivates you to keep trying new things. Here are a few tips I've found helpful to get the most out of yoga videos.

1. Change it up. Videos give you the opportunity to try out tons of different teachers and types of yoga without the investment of money and time it takes traveling to a studio class (just be cautious that you're seeking out teachers who have had plenty of training). There are times I start and stop five different videos before I find one that speaks to me in that moment—maybe I realize that the class will be backbending when I'm in the mood or standing poses or maybe I'm not a fan of the teacher's style. I use videos to explore new facets of the practice and keep myself motivated and interested by changing it up. Each day I look forward to trying something new.

2. Challenge yourself. One of the best things about using videos to guide your home practice is that you can choose your own intensity level. If you feel like you need to be gentler with yourself or explore something a little deeper on your own, the pause button is always there. But having that option also makes it easier to slack off. You have to hold yourself accountable when you practice with videos. When I choose a video I make it a point to hold the poses for as long as the teacher instructs even when I want to bail out early, and I try to make myself finish the entire video if at all possible.

3. Practice when it's convenient, but practice regularly. One of the best things about practicing with a video is that it gives you absolutely no excuse to skip a session. Decide how many times a week you're going to practice and make sure it happens—day or night, gentle or challenging, short or long—just do it. The convenience and ease of videos makes any excuse you can come up with seem totally lame.

4. Go deeper. I have to admit, I'm not always a fan of practicing along with videos—sometimes the production is cheesy and seems inauthentic while other times I'd rather just practice at my own pace. But even if you don't like practicing asana along with videos, you can find great pose tutorials, meditations, and guided instruction that will complement your practice. I love watching how different teachers approach a pose I'm working on, and there's nothing better than having someone guide you through meditation or Savasana.

5. Don't abandon the studio completely. As great as videos are, there's no substitution for practicing in a class setting where a teacher can actually look at your alignment and offer suggestions. Not to mention, it's easy to feel isolated and alone in your yoga practice if you never connect with other yoga students.

Do you use yoga videos? Do you have any tips for getting more out of them?