This was originally posted as a guest article on Breathe Repeat.
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On my list of secret yogic anxieties, developing a meaningful home practice falls somewhere above hanumanasana but below a Bikram class with no water. It’s a real challenge. Where do I start? What should I do? Is that my phone ringing? Space, time and focus are much harder to come by when squeezing my asana between appointments or between the couch and coffee table.
On the other hand, there are unique opportunities that come with practicing outside of a studio. The biggest advantage is the ability to control the entire experience. When I walk into a studio I must take what is offered. If three teachers in a row focus on backbends, that’s what I get. If I show up for vinyasa but the sub teaches Iyengar, tough luck.
With digital yoga I have choice… maybe too much of it. The simple act of selecting a format to use – let alone choosing a style, teacher, duration or difficulty level – can be such a logistical challenge that sometimes I want to throw up my hands and take up jogging. To make matters worse, I often find myself turning to my “home practice” in unlikely situations and in a wide variety of moods. Sometimes I want to zone out to a video class. Sometimes I feel inspired to build my own practice while referring to photos in a book. Sometimes it’s just me and my smart phone in a hotel room with no Internet and a six-foot square of threadbare rug.
What’s a yogi to do? These are decisions that only a flowchart can handle…
If this flowchart leaves you dizzy, have hope. While we are experiencing an Age of Overwhelming Choice, we are also moving toward an Age of Convergence. Laptops, mobile devices and wifi caused the yoga industry to blossom with “digitized yoga.” Now we are in the process of refining and redesigning the experience of using technology to help us practice yoga outside of a studio.
The distinction between these two phases is subtle, but important. Digitized yoga is most concerned with taking an existing experience (such as a standard class in a studio) and converting it to new formats (such as a video of a standard class in a studio). “Yoga designed for digital” is focused on creating new modes of yogic study by rethinking and how yoga is taught digitally. There are many facets to this concept, but an important one is merging multiple modes of learning into a single volume of knowledge. In other words, we need tools that:
- Integrate video, audio, text and photo learning options into one volume
- Allow yogis to experience this content in the order they choose
- Offer additional content to extend an on-the-mat practice so it translates off-the-mat
- Explore new forms of interactivity (such as on-the-fly customization and social options)
- Are accessible across multiple devices
- Work offline
Choice is good. Yoga on my iPad in any form is good. But even better is to download one-stop resources that allow me to focus less on the flowchart and more on the flow.
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