During the development of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions implemented to movements within the city, country and the world in general, I was often asked by practitioners of my opinion about online yoga schools.
As for me I have repeatedly been trained in traditional yoga schools, doing trips to the particular country and the school to get theoretical and body-oriented practical knowledge.
But I have never studied in online yoga schools. But I think such schools must exist. It will be explained why.
I would like to publish the opinion and advice of one of my students who has chosen and studied in an online yoga school. Here is his text below.
Choosing an online school.
I decided to become a Hatha yoga teacher after 3 years of practice (mostly Ashtanga yoga).
I was looking for an online school because of the COVID-19 situation, because I couldn't go to India.
I was looking for a school that is certified by the Yoga Alliance (registration in the Alliance as a teacher gives you the opportunity to get a job almost all over the world) to get theoretical knowledge about yoga as a science and philosophy, improve my practice and get a certificate as a yoga teacher.
I did not take into account schools in Russia, because I wanted to get the experience that comes from the birthplace of yoga (India). By the way, schools in the EU and the US were two or even four times more expensive.
Out of the many schools in India listed on the Yoga Alliance website, I selected 3 schools in Rishikesh that provided a 200-hour online Hatha yoga teacher training course in accordance with Yoga Alliance standards.
On the Yoga Alliance website you can view and filter the schools you are considering, for example, by country:
My personal criteria for choosing schools from the site were:
- price (compared to the offline format, prices were 2.5 times lower, starting from 600 dollars)
- modern and user-friendly website of a school
- flexible schedule
- high school rating on the Yoga Alliance website
- students reviews on the site.
Before joining one of the three schools selected according to the primary criteria, I decided to talk to the teachers and / or administrators of these schools.
I contacted with schools via e-mails listed on their web-sites. Then I called teachers/administrators. All three schools helped me with this request.
First, it gives you the opportunity to ask them more about schools and the learning process:
- what areas of Hatha yoga are taught and what teaching is aimed at
- is there a manual to read before registration
- what is the schedule and dates of the course
- who are the teachers and can I talk to them
- what is the teacher to student ratio?
- will classes be live-streamed or recorded? (Live streamed classes better replicate in-person trainings.)
- will I have an opportunity to interact with other trainees? How?
- are trainers readily accessible for support offline? After hours?
- what assessment measures are used to verify whether students are learning the content that is delivered online?
- what are the graduation requirements? Are there submission deadlines?
Secondly, an important point in a conversation with teachers: I asked them for a link to their online classes (all three schools held their classes in zoom).
Two of three schools sent a link to their streaming sessions during the school day of the previous group of students. One the school sent me a record of a practice. I did not choose that school.
In the end I chose the school that because of its leading teacher (his style of teaching) and a small number of students in the group (only two people).
Online learning process.
Before the course I received a manual that was very useful during the entire training period. The manual itself consisted of basic information on the topics of philosophy, anatomy, Ashtanga and Hatha Surya Namaskar, a workbook on asanas, etc.
Classes were held for a month from 6.30 to 11.30 every day except Sunday. If it was inconvenient for the students or teacher, it was possible to move classes to a certain day, for example, on Sunday. Thanks to this option I didn't miss a single class during my training.
Every day we had practical classes (~ 90 min), pranayama classes (~30 min) and lectures (~90 min).
Practice included warm-up, study of Surya Namaskara and other simple asanas and their alignment.
Lectures were held on the following topics: anatomy, asana alignment and philosophy.
In the early morning practice of Hatha yoga helped me wake up my body. But you can not compare this practice and Ashtanga or flow yoga according to physical exertion. I mean that Ashtanga or yoga flow were much harder for me.
Pranayama classes taught me various pranayama techniques that were not taught in Mysore classes (Bastrika, Kapalabhati, Anuloma Viloma).
Lectures on anatomy gave a general idea of the human body, the functions of human body systems and individual organs and possible injuries during yoga classes.
Classes in philosophy covered the concept of yoga, where it came from, origins, thesis study of the 8 stages of yoga (the material was quite "dry" without recommendations how to implement it our lives).
In my opinion, lessons on asana alignment were the most useful in the theoretical course. We were told how to build a particular asana, its benefits, typical mistakes of students, warnings and modifications. It was useful to put into morning practice the knowledge gained in the asana alignment classes.
Teachers were positive and open and seemed happy to answer any questions. If they couldn't answer right away, they took a timeout, but returned with explanations later.
They gave advice and recommendations how to teach, what to focus on and how to behave with students. The material was presented by all teachers in a simple, clear, structured and friendly manner.
But due to the fact that the teachers were mostly young, it seemed that they themselves have recently completed courses of 200 and 300 hours and work for the school because they wanted to gain practical experience. Teachers were from Russia, Kyrgyzstan and India.
The leading teacher was a hindu, also quite young, but in terms of knowledge and instilling the importance of his role, he gave the impression of an experienced and sophisticated person.
The exam was held in the form of a training practice (~20 min warm-up and ~ 20 min Surya Namaskara). Each student led an online class for a practice. It was divided into 2 days. The first day, one student led the warm-up, the other – Surya Namaskar. The second day is vice versa.
There were no tests on the topics of anatomy, philosophy, or asana alignment. In my point of view absence of the writing exam was not good. There was no exciting sense preparing for the exam and to learn the subjects in detail.
I would like to recommend Indian online schools to those people who need to get the "ABC" of yoga (theory and practice of asanas) and strengthen their body (if there is no physical activity at all, for example), as well as to get a teacher certificate, if you want to have one.
The main advantages of online schools are:
1) Low cost of training
2) Opportunity for training from any place where there is high-speed Internet
3) Simplified procedure for obtaining a certificate
4) Basic understanding of yoga
5) Small number of people in the group
The knowledge gained via online schools is likely to be shallow, but you will get the basics.
The rest will have to be explored further on your own. But this is what yoga teaches us.
The main thing is not to stop exploring yourself, your body and the world around you!