You may have to sift and sort. And you'll want to keep your eyes sharp, fingers nimble, and sense of humor tingly. But there, amidst the random effluvia (the animations, home movies, and sitcoms), you'll find them: informative, inspiring yoga videos, clips, and programs—all free and easy, and just waiting for you to discover them on YouTube (youtube.com).
Since 2005 YouTube has let its users share video clips through websites, phones, blogs, and email. Subjects range from the practical to the absurd to the yogic, and from old snippets of asana basics to clips featuring almost every celebrity teacher and guru you've ever heard of. This list includes T. Krishnamacharya himself, the grandfather of modern yoga, working his way fluidly through advanced asanas in beautiful, silent black-and-white footage from 1938. Watch this master's master—he taught K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, and son T.K.V. Desikachar—move through his astonishing asana demonstration. You can't help but ponder just how far yoga has come in the 70 years since Krishnamacharya began teaching asana. Plus the man's spine is near otherworldly. And look, there's a 20-year-old B.K.S. Iyengar in two newsreel clips from the same year, following right along. K. Pattabhi Jois? He's on YouTube, too—as a young and an old man.
You'll see a whole lot of Tara Stiles, a Ford fashion model, running through various sequences. You'll also get glimpses of yoga instructor Rodney Yee's ab workout, Nike's yoga spokesperson Kimberly Fowler, and martial arts-inspired teacher Duncan Wong. You'll see bits of Bikram Yoga, a whole lot of Ashtanga vinyasa, many individual pose demos (with several from Yoga Journal conferences), and a huge range of homemade movies from all sorts of yogis, including the (in)famous Yogi Ramesh, doing his manic laughter yoga demonstration. And on it goes.
Poke around long enough, and you can piece together a history of modern American yoga, one random video at a time. It's like the great—albeit slightly bizarre—yoga family album. But with more spandex.
Fair warning, though. Because YouTube allows anyone to upload videos, whatever the content, don't be surprised if you come upon yoga gone crude and absurd. See Trev the Yogic Builder, a chain-smoking, politically incorrect yogi whose amateur clips—filled with bathroom humor and a surprisingly able yoga practice—have become so popular that he released his own DVD, called Yoga 4 Fellas.
YouTube knows no boundaries of taste, cultural irreverence, spiritual bliss, or kundalini quotient, and it doesn't care if you can touch your toes with your third eye. That is what makes YouTube so wonderful. It is also what makes the site an ideal tool for yoga, providing both serious advice and helpful insight, along with a terrific way to take all that bliss and exhale it right back out with a big, wide grin—and a decent Internet connection.