Best free online yoga classes, according to a studio addict

PHOTO: Pexels

I’ve been practising yoga for about four years now and I’ve always been a fan of going to the studio. While some may enjoy the comfort and flexibility of practising at home, I’ve been unable to stick to a solid self-practice routine.

Doing yoga from home requires you to be aware of your body as there is no teacher to check and correct your alignment. Of course, you also need to have the discipline to roll out your mat and actually start flowing without getting distracted. But the main reason why I prefer practising yoga in a studio is because of the safe space it provides.

However, with gyms and studios now closed due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic, online yoga classes are the next best option for me to keep up with practice.

While I am able to roll out a mat and do a yoga flow that I remember, I find myself repeating the same postures and getting stuck halfway through my practice.

I prefer having a teacher’s voice to guide me so that I can switch off my thoughts for a while and move through the teacher’s instructions. Online classes are also a great option for people who do not live near a studio or have long working hours.

Just like settling on a studio, searching for online yoga classes presents its own set of challenges. There are so many to choose from, plus it can be hard to find a teacher or class that suits you.

I’ve done yoga every single day for the past four years, and that means going through a lot of online classes as I can’t make it to the studio every day.

Since most of us are looking to save money during this period of uncertainty, I’ve shortlisted free online yoga classes here that met my criteria (see below).

However, if you are financially able to support your local studio or teacher, I really recommend doing so because it will go a long way to help keep their business going.

If you are willing to pay, you can find amazing content from Roxanne Gan ($9.90 a week; unlimited classes), Alo Moves (US$20 (S$28) a month; unlimited classes) and Celest Pereira (US$5-20 a class).

My criteria for online yoga classes

  1. Yoga style

Disclosure: Vinyasa and handstands are the core of my yoga practice and I’m not a fan of fusion classes such as HIIT yoga. With that in mind, I narrowed down my choices to hatha, vinyasa, stretching and handstands.

Note that although the classes I shortlisted are limited to these yoga styles, the yoga teachers mentioned offer other types of classes too.

  1. Way of teaching

After attending numerous yoga classes from different studios and teachers, I’ve developed a preferred style of teaching.

The teacher has to give clear instructions so that I can follow along even when my eyes are closed and I am paying close attention to my breathing. At the same time, the cues have to convey some level of emotion as I prefer to hear “lift up your chest and open your heart” than simply “breathe in”.

I also find that some flow classes can get boring if the teacher only does three rounds of sun salutation A followed by three rounds of sun salutation B. While those are part of the foundation of yoga, I like it when playful transitions and new poses are added. This makes the class more unexpected, interesting and enjoyable for me.

  1. Progressions

I’m both soft and strong thanks to regular practice and genetics. This means that I usually have to find variations in certain poses in order to feel the stretch, avoid hypermobility and get a good workout.

When I attend classes in person and online, it is important that the teacher provides different progressions or modifications to the moves – not just for me, but so that everyone at any level can get into a comfortable pose.

Don’t be put off by seemingly simple classes or more advanced classes because you can always modify the poses. Challenge yourself by doing a chaturanga (yoga push-up) instead of knee-chest-chin in a basic class and if a class gets too tough, you can always rest in downward dog or child’s pose.

Best free online yoga classes to try: Local studios

Jyan Yoga Studio’s Yoga Workouts

Where: Instagram Live

Yang Jiamin, the owner of Jyan Yoga Studio, is a well-known yogi in Singapore. Besides her ability to strike cool poses and get into handstands, she’s also known for her intense classes that will really get your body working. Whether it’s a vinyasa, core or HIIT yoga class, you’ll definitely get a good workout.

The classes are conducted in a semi-casual setting that made me feel like I was working out with a friend.

Although you can’t really communicate on Instagram Live when you’re moving and unable to type a comment, it felt personal. This way of teaching is less daunting, and will make you feel accountable to turn up for class and give it your all.

One class is conducted daily, by different yoga teachers at varying times. The schedule is uploaded weekly. Stay tuned to their Instagram page as they might be expanding to Zoom as well. 

Platinum Yoga’s Ashtanga Yoga

Where: Instagram Live

Platinum Yoga is offering two live classes per day on their Instagram page at 9am and 5pm. Class styles include ashtanga, align, runner’s yoga, vinyasa, and hatha.

The classes are different each day, but I recommend tuning in for their ashtanga classes because not many studios offer it.

You go through the primary and/or secondary series whenever you do ashtanga, so regular practitioners can memorise the yoga flow. However, it might be difficult to keep up with your daily practice when you’re home alone without the environment in an ashtanga class.

I love that their classes are fairly long, allowing me to get into the zone and just flow. Besides doing live classes, the studio also uploads a video every Tuesday and Friday on their YouTube channel.

Real Yoga’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge

Where: Instagram Live

Real Yoga is sharing four classes a day on their Instagram page. Some classes are available on Facebook too. Don’t worry about missing the class timing because selected classes will be edited and uploaded on YouTube.

You can join in on morning stretches, hatha yoga, gentle yoga and more. There will be different teachers conducting each class so members can find their usual teachers while newcomers can try them all out to find their favourite. Most classes are beginner-friendly.

I’m actually a Real Yoga member because I enjoy their traditional yoga classes that focus on basics and alignment which helps me to let go of ego in specific poses. The teachers are friendly and they remember the names of most of the members, creating a close-knit community even though Real Yoga is a big studio.

Pure Yoga’s Wide Range of Classes

Where: Instagram Live

Pure Yoga is broadcasting live classes on their Instagram page from 7.30am to 7pm. You can choose from a range of yoga styles including hatha, stretch, vinyasa, yin, core and even some cardio classes.

I love that they are running many different classes throughout the day to cater to all levels and schedules.

The schedule can be found on their website and Instagram one to three days ahead of time. Don’t stress about being unable to make it for your favourite class because they upload the completed live videos on YouTube too.

Best free online yoga classes to try: International yoga teachers

Susie Vanessa Yoga’s Handstand Flows

Where: Zoom

Just take a look at Susie’s funky handstand shapes on her Instagram page and you’ll know that she is an expert in that field. While she shares different drills and flows on her Instagram posts, she is now doing live Zoom conference videos daily.

Her online handstand and flexibility class comprises of warm-ups to loosen the body, wrist stretches to prep your wrists, as well as chest and shoulder openings to help with your handstand. The moves are designed to help you engage the right muscles and get the best alignment for your handstand.

Although handstand classes sound advanced, beginners can try it out as long as you are comfortable with kicking up against a wall. She provides many adjustments and progressions to her unique moves.

Check her Instagram page, stories or send her a message for the access code and pass code.

Josh Kramer’s Conditioning Yoga Classes

Where: YouTube

If someone tells you that you can’t get a good workout from doing yoga, ask them to try a class by Josh. He has a variety of classes on his YouTube channel including beginner yoga, yin yoga, tutorials and vinyasa.

I’m a fan of his yoga flows because they’re bound to make me break a sweat within the first five minutes. He incorporates a lot of strengthening moves such as push-ups and squats into his flows to get big muscles burning.

Balance poses like warrior three and half-moon are made more challenging as he makes you pulse and squat in them too.

I like to finish off with his 10-minute shoulder or core yoga burnout videos to feel strong and energised.

Adell Bridges’s Alignment and Hypermobile Focused Classes

Where: YouTube

You’ll get a good workout from Adell’s powerful flow classes while ensuring proper posture as Adell places a strong emphasis on alignment. Whether you are stiff or flexible, you will get a lot out of her classes because she believes in moving into poses with strength and control instead of simply going deeper.

I enjoy her vinyasa classes because she is known for creative sequencing that requires me to activate the weaker muscles with new movements. She also incorporates many strength poses that are great for increasing range of motion.

If you find yourself unable to hold certain poses, I recommend trying out a class that targets that body part because you will be able to mindfully engage all your muscles after the class.

For example, doing a leg- or glute-focused yoga class will engage your lower body to help you get into different standing balance poses.

Morgan Rose Moroney’s Short and Sweet Stretch Classes

Where: YouTube

Morgan has a playlist on her YouTube channel with different stretch classes for different areas of your body. She has an athletic background as a gymnast and an Australian Football League player.

I found the moves to be more unique and advanced than most classes, allowing me to stretch every part of my body. She provides different progressions, so you can follow along no matter how stiff or flexible you are.

The videos last about 15 minutes or less, making it easy for most people to commit. I found them perfect for warming up before a handstand or a yoga flow class, or as a simple morning routine. You can even do them before bedtime to unwind after a stressful day.

Yoga with Briohny’s Break Down of Poses

Where: Instagram

If you feel like regular hatha or vinyasa classes go through certain poses too fast, you’ll love Briohny’s succinct tutorials for specific yoga poses. She breaks down basic as well as advanced poses so you can find out how to get into poses comfortably and safely.

Briohny also shares short video snippets for transitions. You can find what you want easily when scrolling through her Instagram page because the targeted pose is indicated clearly in the video’s thumbnail.

If you’re looking for power yoga classes or invigorating ladder vinyasa flows, head to her YouTube channel.

Boho Beautiful’s Relaxing Yin Yoga

Where: YouTube

The duo behind Boho Beautiful might be known for their tough yoga and pilates classes, but they also put out amazing yin, stretch and meditation content. There are specific classes such as hip-opening for runners, stretches for swimmers, bedtime yin yoga, and morning stretching.

The videos are filmed in scenic locations so you can live vicariously through the screen and imagine you’re surrounded by nature in a jungle or by the beach. I find the beautiful backdrops very calming and immersive.

When doing a meditation class, I prefer using Bluetooth headphones or earbuds and placing my phone away from me so that I can close my eyes and relax completely. Nine times out of ten, I cleared my mind of busy thoughts, let go of negativity, or dozed off before the class was over – a good sign, by the way.

Which online platform is the best?

YouTube: This is the classic place to find yoga classes as videos are filmed in landscape mode which makes it comfortable to view and work out with. Videos can also be longer on YouTube which I enjoy. Their visuals and audio are normally of better quality than other platforms, which is a bonus.

Instagram: Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms at the moment, and for a good reason. The Instagram Live function allows you to chat with all the viewers and ask questions.

The teacher is also able to keep the live class for up to 24 hours in Instagram stories if they choose to do so. If not, they can upload IGTV videos separately. I prefer Instagram Lives to IGTV because of the ability to connect with the community. Both Instagram Live and IGTV videos can only be an hour long.

Zoom: I just discovered Zoom video conferences and I am loving it. It allows multiple users in a video conference call, which lets you connect with the teacher and other students. With the camera on me during class, I was more engaged and the teacher was also able to give me personalised tips.

This article was first published in Shape.