The mat is unrolled. She ties the dupatta around her waist and adjusts its length along her shoulders. In a swift move she sits in padmasana, the meditative lotus pose, and looks ahead to see if her class is ready. All set, the pranayamas or the breathing exercises begin.
The class on the other side is not a group of people in their workout slacks and mattresses, but a 14-inch laptop. Uma Maheshwari gives instructions as she performs the asanas one after the other, tuning the pace to suit her student, who, in turn, mirrors her master’s every move, right from pressing the fingers on the nose to bending the body in a cyclical fashion.
“Bend a little more backwards,” says Uma, studying her student’s posture, who now has her back arched concave and head bent upwards in the Bhujangasana or Cobra pose, one of the steps in Surya Namaskar.
The student on the screen, she points out, is Anu. She was a regular student at Yoga Mission International, Nungambakkam, until she had to leave to the UK last year. Miles apart, she still makes it to her Yoga classes in Chennai through skype.
Being virtual is no excuse. Uma insists till her student gets it right on the other side. The screen now shows another person along with Anu. “That’s her spouse,” says Uma, quickly returning to giving instructions to the new joinee in the group to support Anu’s back. The class continues for an hour with Uma watching her student’s steps keenly while, Anu and her spouse bend, stretch and extend like puppets without strings.
Uma, who is a specialised trainer for obese children at Yoga Mission International, says that the centre, as of now, has only a handful of customers from places including Bangalore, UK and the US, who are opting for yoga on skype. And these are people who had previously undergone training from the centre, before opting for online classes. “But we don’t restrict it to them. Anyone can opt for skype training with us,” says Uma. “Google hangout is also good for group training,” adds the techy yoga master.
The classes happen three days a week, on alternate days, with each class charged at `300 — the monthly payment of which can be done through paypal or in person. The timings are decided prior to the class through a quick exchange of mails between the master and the student. Though this gives the scope for tailoring the class timings to one’s need, it also puts one’s will to a grinding test. But the real key to empowerment, according to Om skype classes by Be True Yoga, is that you get to make correction on your own through verbal communication. Time for a self pat.
Yoganandh, who runs the Anahata Yoga in Hong Kong, says that Asana Andiappan Yoga centre, the parent centre based in Chennai, launched the skype yoga session a year ago. “The sessions were especially for those abroad who could not afford to travel to India and study with experienced yoga masters,” he says. While pranayama sessions are conducted on skype, when it comes to full on practice sessions, according to Yoganandh, a teacher’s presence is a must. With 2-3 persons opting for it per month, which increases to 5-8 during holidays, it is evident that the online tide is yet to swipe the shore.
For those who still remain confused about this wedlock between science and tradition, try this - You don’t have to leave your house, you don’t even need to leave your pajama or tidy up…all you need is: a bit of space – enough for a yoga mat, a computer with a simple web-camera and internet access. Now I can keep a close eye on you and you can follow me as we practise – there you go, the demystified version of skype yoga by Kodaikanal yoga centre for you.