Having taken several virtual yoga classes for the past 8 months, I’m recommending the best online yoga classes I’ve found while you are keeping yourself and everyone else safe by staying at home.
- Leigha Butler teaches some of the most interesting vinyasa flows and her videos date back several years. The audio and picture quality isn’t as high as that of some other creators, but I find myself going to her channel for more advanced flows that leave you feeling like you just went to a yoga studio. Her classes are similar to Nicole Wild’s in terms of flow thoughtfulness, but Leigha’s flows are more “flowy”. In addition, Leigha has uploaded more videos.
- Boho Beautiful is a lifestyle and fitness channel that has 1.7M subscriptions. This channel is selling more of their lifestyle and isn’t purely yoga videos. The production quality is extremely good though (she dubs her voice over the videos after she makes them and weaves in yoga background music so you don’t even need to think about that, the setting is always in a beautiful location so you can virtually transport there yourself, and she has an extremely calming voice.) The channel does feature a super skinny and fit woman (which you may or may not like–some may say she is pushing an unattainably body image, some may find her body shape inspirational). While the yoga practice sequences she leads are strong, I don’t think the transitions are the most interesting and innovative, but I do still watch a lot of her free YouTube classes. Her classes are a good fit for you if you are looking for a 20-30 minute sequence.
- Nicole Wild’s yoga flow sequences are some of the best full-length online yoga classes. They are good quality, free (she doesn’t put ads in the YouTube videos and if any show up, it’s because YouTube’s algorithms put them in,) and they are challenging for advanced yogis, interesting, and accessible for an at home practice (doesn’t require many props.) The people who leave YouTube video comments are constantly saying that this was the closest experience to an in studio practice. Her classes focus on interesting transitions and are not “flowy” so you will be disappointed if you are looking for a power flow class. I have subscribed to her YouTube channel to get alerts of when she puts out new videos (which is a one to two times a month.) January 29, 2021 update: Nicole is now only uploading 30-minute classes to YouTube and for longer classes and more offerings, she is launching a paid membership on her website.
- Breathe and Flow is an active YouTube channel maintained by a couple, Bre and Flo, who used to teach at YogaWorks in Palo Alto, CA. However, right now they have taken a break from teaching in Palo Alto and are traveling the world. They have started a paid platform on Patreon to support their work but they continue to regularly put out 30-60 minute yoga flows and tutorials on YouTube. One interesting thing about their channel is that they try to bust the stereotypes around yoga, and Flo actively tries to introduce yoga to more men, with “Yoga for Men” videos. They also publish the best modern yoga playlist I have found across all streaming platforms–you can get theirs on Spotify and they update it monthly.
- If you want to work on your back bending or flexibility practice, Yograja tapes his classes and has a few flows where he is teaching directly to the camera audience. His studio is in Vietnam but he teaches in English (with some Vietnamese sprinkled into the classes.) The production quality of this channel is not as good but I have learned a lot of new stretching and back bending training exercises. His classes don’t have a feel of “relaxation”; they are more “training” classes. Also, his classes that are marked as “beginner/intermediate” would be considered “advanced” at many other Western studios and his “advanced” classes are actually very “advanced” and require many years (if not decades) of flexibility and strength training to follow along successfully. His classes are purely skill training (there is nothing about your mental health here.)
- I got a free subscription to MyYogaWorks from my company so I tried it out. Although I tried practicing alongside ~10 instructors in various videos, I didn’t feel like any of them were that advanced in teaching and the flow felt choppy and disjointed. I wouldn’t pay for a MyYogaWorks subscription but if you get one for free, I would check out some of their level 3 classes (which are still quite introductory when compared to the free YouTube videos shown above.) As a separate subscription from MyYogaWorks, YogaWorks offers live classes via Zoom which cost the same as in-person classes. I believe the Zoom classes are the replacement for in person classes going forward since in October, YogaWorks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to relieve the company of its studio and brick and mortar liabilities. I personally found the Zoom yoga classes to be really basic and pretty bland–I think folks still went to them to support the teachers that they practiced with in person, who may have offered more challenging flows when they were in the studio compared to when everyone is on Zoom at home.
- I have also tried the Peloton app and the Equinox Variis app: The Peloton app is by far more popular and has new classes uploaded daily. However, their style took some adjusting to: They play pop music, rap music, everything that isn’t traditional yoga music, and they do “shout-outs” during class, which was birthed from the Peloton bike experience, which I found to be very annoying. Despite all this, I think Anna Greenberg‘s classes are challenging and interesting enough to spend time on and she teaches advanced skills. On the other hand, I gave Ross Rayburn‘s classes a couple tries and just couldn’t get through them–he sounds like “that very LA Yoga teacher” who abbreviates chopasana as just “chop” when he is instructing. Besides for Anna Greenberg, I didn’t enjoy any of the other instructors on Peloton with the exception of Aditi Shah for meditation (but not her yoga classes.) Equinox is a different story: Unlike Peloton, they upload new videos infrequently but their yoga classes are much better. Equinox owns Pure Yoga, a luxury yoga studio based out of Manhattan, and their instructors seem to focus on yoga only. Their music is less “pop” and more “meditation”, allowing you to focus on your transitions and your body. Personally, I would prefer this kind of vibe for my yoga classes (as opposed to trying to fit a spinning bike class’s style into a yoga class.) However, it’s unclear to me whether Pure Yoga will make it through the pandemic or whether Equinox will just get rid of those studios, as sadly, many other yoga studios have already closed their physical spaces permanently.
- If you only want to learn interesting yoga transitions and skills, Nathalie Bakker offers very unique and interesting yoga challenges on her Instagram page for free, but they aren’t full yoga practices. For another high-technique teacher, Carmen Aguilar’s website offers paid yoga class streams. I haven’t taken them myself but I did go to her in-person workshops (pre-covid) and you do learn a lot of very challenging skills (just check out this YouTube video of her practice and her Instagram page.) For both instructors, I have found that a video stream cannot ever come close to an in-person practice with these ladies because they typically offer hands on adjustments to move you into the right position so you can build that muscle memory. I remember Natalie giving me a small assist so I could do lotus pose in headstand and after that one time, I was able to repeat it every single time by myself after I got the feeling of doing this novel pose on my head. At Carmen’s workshops, her husband assists too so they both make help you move into some of the more challenging poses that would be difficult to achieve alone (especially if you don’t have mirrors at home.)
- Alessandro Sigismondi is a YouTube video photographer who makes beautiful yoga videos and occasionally, he’ll upload a video that you can follow along as a full class (but it usually doesn’t have narration like a traditional live stream); the video and picture quality will be amazing and inspirational though.