Finding Your Self Online

April 19, 2022

Finding Yourself Online

Discovering the true union of yoga when and where we might least expect it with a little help from the Yamas and Niyamas. By Andrea Marcum

I’m a yoga teacher in Los Angeles, and on March 17, 2020 everything I knew turned upside down in a wobbly, uncertain headstand I was pretty sure I didn't want to stay in too long. I found myself online, teaching classes on IGTV, Facebook Live, even started a YouTube channel…things I’d avoided like the plague (sorry poor word choice!) in ‘before times’.

We were so innocent in those early days, believing things would be closed for a couple of months and then, somehow, back to how it always was. In the meantime, we would bake banana bread and watch Tiger King.

But soon it became clear that right-side-up was a long way off and that when it came, I'd no longer be looking at the inside of a studio the way I'd been accustomed for my over 20-years of teaching. Chances are that’s true for you too, even if your yoga is more metaphoric than literal. Would you even have an office or store front to stretch back into?

People flippantly tossed around ‘end of days’ as a description for the times we were living, but it was starting to feel a little bit too close to the truth.

What was this ‘new normal’ and how were we supposed to navigate it? WTF was a pandemic pivot… especially for those of us with an almost non-existent online vocabulary?

For nine years, I had a bricks-and-mortar studio in LA called U Studio Yoga (U for the Unity and commUnity that built it with me. Now, U represents the world, as we practice together on my platform from Italy, Slovakia, UK, Central America, the UAE, all over the USA and more. It's as if we're building my studio all over again without walls.

Maybe you too feel like this isolation is the catalyst for collectivity, and the uncertainty of what comes next motivation to create your own road map?

Before you invest in a new iPhone and turn your living room into an eyesore of lighting and sound equipment to start your own U, know that your love for what you do may be tested. I don’t just mean whether or not you’ll still be fond of your favourite poses (insert lectures, recipes, workouts) after months of online offerings, I’m talking deep philosophical rumblings you might not anticipate.

Allow me to elaborate, using ancient tenets called the Yamas and Niyamas from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra to illuminate our digitally demanding path.

Ahimsa (Nonviolence/Non-Harming)

What’s tricky is that ahimsa includes our thoughts. Sure, at first you’re just excited that you are actually doing it and people are joining you on your IGTV, FacebookLIve, YouTube or Zoom adventure. But, when you read some of the comments, you may have a bit more trouble seeing the spark of divinity in everyone.

Not to mention, day after day, confronting your own on-camera image might incite a not-exactly-non-harming inner monologue (in contrast to the outward-facing uplifting dialogue you extend to your students, clients or team).

Satya (Truth)

Is it possible that in the past you’ve been a bit dismissive of influencers and their seriousness when it comes to your profession? The truth is, now you see them as gurus able to conjure constant content with what yoga master BKS Iyengar called ‘effortless effort’.

Asteya (Non-Stealing)

You may find yourself stealing other people’s profound quotes, clever sequencing, or inspiring designs as it seems you no longer have a single creative idea of your own.

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