June 29, 2011

Review: Live Yoga Classes Right in Your Living Room. ~ Alden Wicker

Another digital option has popped up for doing yoga in your home. And this time you can interact with the instructor.

I’ve talked before about various digital options for taking yoga classes right at home. (You can see my review of some of those options here.) There are podcasts, like Elsie’s Yoga Kula; iPad and iPod apps, websites with streaming video; and, of course, DVDs.

Now I can add one more option to the list: live classes.

The new website Physiic streams live classes to your computer–and not just yoga classes. They have other group classes like aerobic and strength training, along with meditation and teacher training.

This is how it worked: I signed up for and paid for a class through Paypal–which took about a minute–paying $15 for a Forrest yoga class, and $10 for a beginners class. Once I paid, I could pop into my my class at the appointed time, which had a video feed of the studio. For both classes, it looks like the camera is placed in a top corner looking down, where I could see regular participants on their mats stretching and waiting for class to start. Another video feed was directed back at me (by the way, you need a laptop or computer with a microphone and a camera for this) with a window showing myself, so I could keep track of whether the instructor could see my entire body clearly.

Both times the instructors said hi, and I said hi back by holding down a button to chat. The rest of the class, they can’t hear anything from my end, just see me.


The live class allows for modifications where podcasts, videos, apps and DVDs do not. My instructor for the Forrest yoga class at one point called out, “Make sure your knees are touching. Alden, I’m talking to you!”

You won’t slack off like you would for a regular video. Because the instructor can see you, it’s not like you can just wander away in the middle. I appreciate this, since I’m guilty of turning off apps, podcasts, and videos early.

You’ll have the chance to try new branches of yoga, and try new instructors located all over the U.S.

It’s a workout. I came away from both classes feeling like I had accomplished a full and fruitful practice. After my Forrest class, I could feel that delicious soreness all over my body.


It’s a rather awkward format. I often had to move my laptop around so that the instructor could see what I was doing and give me feedback, which was pretty distracting.

The times are set. It’s a little more flexible than a studio schedule, but there is still a schedule with classes starting at certain times.

You know how unattractive you look when you’re Skyping? Multiply that by a yoga pose in tight pants. It’s an ego-buster for sure. (Maybe I should put this in the pros?)

You still won’t get actual modifications. You have to go to a studio for that.

The visuals aren’t as clear. While you can see the whole class, sometimes it’s not as useful as just being there, and being able to look at all the people around you when you are confused. It’s a video feed, after all, so it’s not exactly high definition.

Moms, beware. I’m not a Mom, but I imagine your two-year-old won’t mesh well with this format. While I was practicing, my boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law showed up with their baby. I was able to say hi, since the instructor couldn’t hear me, but I was forced to hold a short conversation with them while I was in revolved triangle pose. If you have a DVD, you can stop it to attend to stuff, but would a toddler understand that, no, Mommy is busy and she can’t play with you right now?

It costs as much as a regular class. With prices ranging from $8 to $15, it’s not like this will help you with your budget or anything.


Compared to some of the other at-home yoga formats I’ve reviewed, this one holds you to a higher level of commitment. You’ll get a good workout in and work up a sweat. But I still wouldn’t recommend even the beginners class for a beginner. The fuzzy video quality and odd angle, coupled with the fact that an instructor might not be able to really see what is going on with your end, makes this only useful for someone who is confident in their poses and can follow easily along.

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