Until very recently, I was a total yoga recluse. For six years, I practiced yoga on an almost-daily basis—all from the comfort of my bedroom. It wasn’t a true party of one: my well-worn mat and private instructor, YouTube, were steady allies. But my ventures into live classes with other humans were rare and sporadic.
Then, in December 2018, I decided to do something truly out of character: I signed up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Something inside of me knew it was time to deepen my practice. It wasn’t quite a desire to teach (that seemed too far of a stretch at the time) but more of a growing hunger to more intimately understand a practice that I originally began to improve my fitness but had become so much more meaningful to my life. After devouring YouTube classes for years, it was high time to venture into yoga society...even if deep down I sort of felt like a faker.
As it turned out, my fears about being horrendously ill-prepared were unfounded. I quickly realized that I truly benefited from all those years of private "one-on-one" sessions with YouTube instructors that I still felt a real connection with. I could literally hear their voices in my head: Don't collapse into the earth, press away from it. Really feel the power of the mountain. You got this! Their cues and wisdom had seeped into my unconscious. Alone (but not alone), I had been able to build a personal practice on a foundation free of self-consciousness or comparison, which can be tough for some of us to do in a crowded class.
Today, I feel super fortunate to be part of a beautiful IRL yoga community that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Still, though, my YouTube practice is going strong. And why not? There’s no need to fight traffic, navigate a jam-packed class, or even shimmy into yoga pants when I don’t feel like it. To me, the beauty of doing yoga in your own space is a luxury, and one that’s free at that.
Since sifting through thousands of online videos can be a bit overwhelming, I’ve done the dirty work for you. Below you’ll find a round-up of nine yoga YouTube channels worth trying, each with their own distinct flavor and approach. Whether you’re a total novice or a seasoned practitioner, this list is a good place to start if you're on the hunt for a yoga channel that suits your personality and practice.
With over 4.8 million subscribers, Adriene Mishler is the undisputed queen of YouTube yoga. Quirky, down-to-earth, and very much someone that you’d want to be best friends with, it’s not surprising that Mishler has a fiercely loyal following. When I’m “in a mood,” she’s my go-to pick-me-up; her light-hearted, refreshing presence usually dissolves said mood within minutes.
Another reason for her massive popularity? Mishler lives and breathes by the motto “Find What Feels Good.” All 400+ of her videos stress the importance of doing away with comparison and finding your own unique expression of each pose. Total newbies, or anyone who could use a refresher, will also benefit from her “Foundations of Yoga” series, which breaks down the basic alignment and benefits of tons of poses.
Ashtanga is a style of yoga that links breath to movement, similar to a vinyasa flow class, but is faster-moving, more specifically structured, and has earned a reputation for being somewhat intense. Because of that, ashtanga can be intimidating for some people.
There’s no better way to get initiated with ashtanga than with one-on-one instruction from some of the world’s leading teachers, who gather at the Purple Valley Ashtanga Yoga Retreat in India. The Purple Valley channel regularly features classes with renowned instructors, such as Deepika Mehta, David Robson, and Kino Macgregor. It’s also ripe with overall wellness tips, chanting and meditation videos, and videos that break down the basics of Ayurveda.
Body Positive Yoga founder Amber Karnes describes herself as “a big yogi with a ‘big asana’ and a big heart.” Karnes’ videos cover many helpful tips and modifications for practitioners of all sizes, from performing chaturanga properly to overcoming the sticky spots of sun salutations. She’s a big fan of using props, but is always mindful about offering substitutes that can easily be found around the house (like a belt or tie instead of a strap).
Karnes is also super open about her own relationship with her body, and addresses topics like how to handle negative thoughts and resist the pressure of diet culture, to encourage her followers to develop greater self-compassion and confidence both on and off the mat.
While ashtanga has a reputation for being physically demanding, kundalini is considered to be a style of yoga that’s more spiritually focused. It’s deeply focused on things like connecting the mind and body, expanding consciousness, increasing awareness, and activating energy throughout the body (via what’s known in ayurvedic medicine as the “chakras,” or energy centers). Despite the growing number of yoga studios in the U.S., kundalini classes are much less common than flow classes.
If you’re interested in focusing on the more spiritual aspects of yoga, such as breathwork, chanting, and hand gestures, Spirit Voyage is a wonderful channel to help you get familiar with kundalini. The ultimate goal is spiritual transformation, but in the meantime, all the breathwork is incredibly energizing. The Spirit Voyage channel features various kundalini greats to guide you through unique classes and meditations.
Each week, Tim Sensei posts a new vinyasa flow that leans on the physically challenging side, so you’ll definitely be into his classes if you’re looking to focus on the more physical part of yoga. Sensei is open about how yoga has helped him develop a healthier self-image and completely transform his lifestyle, so it’s cool to see how far his yoga practice has taken him.
The majority of his classes fall into the half-hour range, and he also has a great 30-day challenge, if you’re feeling ambitious about kickstarting your at-home yoga practice. I take Sensei’s classes when I want to clear my head through the physicality of my practice; almost always, I end up drenched in sweat and feeling the after-effects in my arms and core.
The Samyak Yoga Ashram in Mysore, India is a well-respected yoga school that posts hatha, vinyasa, and ashtanga classes that typically last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. The videos here aren’t one-on-one, but actually give you a glimpse into a roomful of other students who are practicing at the Mysore Teacher Training Institute.
And if you’ve always dreamed of getting your yoga certification at a traditional yoga school in India, there are lots of brief, inspiring videos where students share tidbits about what the experience is like.
If you’re looking for more technical instructions and help nailing the right physical alignment of each pose, you’ll adore yoga instructor Candace Moore. There’s a striking simplicity about each of her videos—Moore has a concise style that’s perfect if you’re pressed for time or looking to get straight to the point. She also has a remarkably soothing voice that instantly puts me at ease.
As a complete goofball who is easily distracted, I’m drawn to Moore’s composure and hope to soak it up a little bit through YouTube osmosis. Her efficiency is also reflected in her homepage, which breaks down classes by every possible organizational meter: time of day, body part focus, length, etc.
8. Faith Hunter
Faith Hunter exudes that deep sense of peace and tranquility where you can’t help but wonder about her secret to life. The answer, it seems, is meditation—lots of it! Hunter offers a number of guided meditation videos in addition to her yoga classes, which lean on the relaxing-and-restorative side.
I highly recommend checking out Faith’s channel when you’re searching for a soothing flow with a soulful quality, rather than just a physical workout. Personally, Faith’s classes hit the spot for me in the morning or evening, when I need my practice to be a little quieter and more reflective.
The Yoga Room totally sounds like a cozy place where you’d want to hang out, and this warm and fuzzy feeling definitely extends to its YouTube channel as well. The studio’s owner, Zelinda Yañez, welcomes us all into her Texas-based studio with tutorials and yoga flows for those seeking a gentle, therapeutic practice. Zelinda is super tranquil and her intent is to help yoga practitioners of all shapes and sizes enjoy a safe, comfortable practice. Check out her latest 30-minute video, “Strengthening Yoga For Bigger Bodies,” and her chair yoga series.
Originally Appeared on Self