What are your options when you move to an area that has little or no Yoga? How would you feel if before the move you were practicing 5 days a week? This was my dilemma when I moved from working in central Sydney with access to excellent classes to working at home where I had limited access to Yoga.
I initially tried filling the void by watching Yoga DVDs. These were excellent to watch and provided me with tips to improve poses, however I found it distracting to experience a fluid meditative practice while watching them. Every time I needed direction from the teacher, I had to stop practising and watch the DVD. I also felt limited to my lounge room as this was where the TV was – internet videos were just too small and straining to watch and practise along to. While these videos are an excellent informative tool for improving my practice, it was missing that vital meditative aspect of practising Yoga. My inner calm was not being nurtured, and I felt there had to be a better way.
I experimented with recording my own audio classes, practising to routines from teachers that I enjoyed. I found these quite effective, although nowhere near as good as listening to these teacher’s voices. I attended a Yoga conference in Sydney where a panel of renowned teachers, most of whom were teachers I attended classes with, were emphasising the importance of home practice. I decided to approach some of these teachers to find out whether I could record the regular classes I attended, so I could continue my home practice.
These first recordings proved to be excellent. I found them meditative and at long last I had recaptured the quality of Yoga I had access to when I was working in the city. Another benefit of audio instruction is how the teacher naturally enhanced the clarity of their verbal instructions knowing that the student By Monica Anderson would be without one of their senses – the sense of sight, which for personally contributed to the experience of “pratyahara”, one of the limbs of Yoga meaning “withdrawal of (one of) the senses”. Teachers who work mainly with DVDs don’t have to be as clear when giving instructions, as students watch and imitate what the teacher is doing. To this day, I find these audio classes to be an excellent way to get my daily dose of Yoga. I loved these classes so much that it crossed my mind that other people might be in a similar dilemma to me and could also find them beneficial.
I searched the web for online Yoga studios. This led me to realise that there were very few Yoga studios that were offering audio classes, and the few that did only offered a limited number of styles (mostly vinyasa flow) and limited options (mostly short 15-20 minute classes). This made me keen to set-up an online Yoga studio that embraced a wide variety of teachers, styles and levels – called www.liveYogalife.com. I felt that there was a market for an online Yoga studio that showcased the best Yoga teachers from a wide range of styles and focus areas. I decided to focus on MP3 audio classes rather than DVDs due to their meditative quality. I formally approached my favourite teachers around Australia who I had either trained with during my teacher training, or were recommended to me by my mentors. Little did I realise how big my idea would become. Over the course of 2 years, my husband and I recorded over with 19 teachers and have released over 110 products. Our product range includes the main Yoga styles (Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, Vinyasa Hatha, Yin Yoga) and focus areas (Yoga for Seniors, Yoga Therapy, Prenatal, Postnatal).
One of the highlights of having an online Yoga studio is the opportunity to record and practise with iconic Yoga teachers. I was privileged to record with Simon Low when he visited Byron Bay. Simon teaches two styles of Yoga called Yin Yoga and Yang Yoga. Yang Yoga is a skillful balanced combination of circular and spiral movement patterns and the stimulation of energy centres, alongside essential alignment within a dynamic asana practice; while Yin Yoga focuses on the feminine, lunar, passive, deep, restorative & meditative practices. It uses long passive holds to work on the connective tissues of the physical anatomy and on the energy systems of the “subtle anatomy” resulting in a profound balancing of your “inner” strength and “outer” flexibility. I have found this style of Yoga to be the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern life.
After attending Simon’s workshops, I anxiously asked whether he would be interested in recording a few classes for LiveYogalife.com. Simon was for the first internationally renowned teacher I had approached to join my project, so I was very relieved when he said yes. My husband and I fiew to Byron Bay to record with Simon during his “rest” days between workshops.
Recording with Simon was a real pleasure. His style of teaching was eye-opening – he has mastered the ability to convey both strength (masculine) and flexibility (feminine) at the same time. Maybe it is because he teaches both Yang and Yin Yoga, which pushes you to master both aspects. Whatever the case, Simon is one of the few teachers I have ever practised with who has achieved this balance. Simon has recorded two versatile class sets for a holistic Yin Yoga practice respectively, and one Yang Yoga set with three parts. For Yin Yoga, each of these sets includes a short and long class, which accommodates both beginners and advanced practitioners to Yoga. They are available online at – Simon is teaching at the BaliSpirit Festival from 28 March – 1 April 2012. If you can attend his classes, it will be an experience not to miss!