My first yoga class was on a beach in Hawaii, by way of a video I’d borrowed, in my living room. I didn’t have a special mat or flattering pants, but I did have a VHS player, a few square feet of floor space and a library card. It was enough to introduce me to a longtime love of asanas, or yoga postures. While nothing compares to the professional guidance and positive peer pressure of a live class, all one needs to commence a yoga practice at home or on the road these days is access to YouTube via laptop, iPad or an Internet-enabled TV. (Comfortable clothes and a cushioned surface help, too.) Here are just a few of the current YouTube yoga offerings worth the price of a sticky mat.
Yoga Focus: Children’s Yoga
YouTube Channel: Cosmic Kids
Out of the U.K., these sessions run about 15 minutes and feature an ebullient teacher named Jaime, her lavender, circular mat, and animated, candy-colored sets. Each session— “Joybob the Polar Bear,” “Squish the Fish” —employs a common storytelling method in yoga for kids of leading the class through a forest-, jungle-, or outer space-based adventure.
Yoga Focus: Style Sampler
YouTube Channel: Gaiam TV
Famed U.S. yoga teachers such as Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden, Seane Corne and Shiva Rea lead two- to 10-minute introductions to different yoga styles. While many full-length videos are available to stream for $2.99, it’s possible to cobble a thorough class together with these shorter, informative snippets.
Yoga Focus: Men’s Yoga
YouTube Channel: YogaFit
The 56-minute class called “Yogafitness for Men” (this channel features many other styles as well) offers a brisk pace for a decent cardio workout and the hallmark upper-body focus of Vinyasa, which is heavy on sun salutations. The setting is beyond no-frills—instructor Brett Barnes models the postures with specific, helpful instructions and a matter-of-fact delivery in a black box of a studio.
Yoga Focus: Yoga as a Workout
YouTube Channel: Sean Vigue Fitness
Sean Vigue is a yoga, Pilates, boot camp and spin instructor who brings a sense of hu-mor, serious guns and a tendency to break into song to a high-energy collection of videos. Workouts range from one minute to 60, and include 30-minute and one-hour beginner yoga classes, yoga for better sleep and a series of short yoga workouts done alongside a sedan in his garage-as-hot yoga studio. (He also demonstrates a 20-minute ab workout on top of a picnic table and does a “killer shoulder exercise” in front of a Christmas tree.) Vigue updates his content twice a week, and his channel has received more than a million and a half views. There you’ll also find a link to a live online class schedule, where you can join a sunrise yoga class via webcam or tailor your own series ($15 to $100).
Yoga Focus: Yoga for Daily Living
YouTube Channel: Eckhart Yoga
From the Netherlands comes Ekhart Yoga, 300+ wide-ranging offerings including ones targeted at depression, sleep difficulties, avoiding sports injuries, back pain, knee health, high blood pressure, yoga for climbers, yoga when studying for exams and a pregnancy yoga series featuring a mama-to-be—filmed at 41 weeks—including techniques to (hopefully) induce labor. Unique to this channel is a short series of somatic yoga poses, a simple, slow, deeply relaxing sequence to calm the nervous system, alleviate stress-induced pain and foster sound sleep.
Yoga Focus: Ample-bodied yoga
YouTube Channel: bodypositiveyoga
Rather than full classes, these videos offer posture modifications for folks living in larger bods, including for spinal twists, pigeon pose and inversion postures (including the clever use of a yoga strap to keep robust bosoms at bay). Plus, instructor Amber Karnes—whose motto is “Big life. Big heart. Big asana.”—offers private Skype classes for $30 to $50. (bodypos
Yoga Focus: Laughter Yoga
YouTube Channel: Madan Kataria
Does the body know whether laughter is spontaneous or self-triggered? Not according to Laughter Yoga founder and Mumbai physician Madan Kataria, whose technique “combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama).” It’s not a movement-centered yoga and is an alternative practice for those with physical limitations. Laughter is contagious, and universal, as illustrated in videos of people cracking up in India, Israel, Denmark, Mexico, Vietnam, Australia, Taiwan, the Ukraine and Italy. My favorite clip is “Laughter Yoga with Cindy Miles,” simply for seeing a yoga instructor decked out in rainbow crocs and a propeller beanie. Other gems feature schoolchildren, the elderly and the Indian military. But it’s the clip titled “Laughter Yoga Prison, USA” that made me laugh and cry.
JESSICA PATTON PELLEGRINO is a freelance writer based in Connecticut. She writes the Homefront blog for E.