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I tend to be…oh, let’s say…frugal. That’s a nicer word than cheap or stingy.

I’ve been wanting to branch out and explore different kinds of yoga, other than Bikram. My Bikram practice is always going to be my main squeeze, but after 2 years of a four-times-a-week practice, I just felt like it was time for us to have something of an open relationship.

But my tightwad tendencies went into overdrive when I thought about paying for individual yoga classes on top of my annual membership to my Bikram studio. So, I thought I found the perfect, if slightly cheesy, solution – TV yoga.

Sure, it’s harder to stay motivated in my living room – when no one else knows if I stop midway for some dark chocolate frozen yogurt – but come on, it’s free! I did Netflix instant download and to be completely honest, it sucked. The whole thing kinda sucked.

So, there were the technical problems. Without a floor length mirror, I couldn’t see what I was doing or check my alignment. The descriptions of the postures on the video were O.K., but not great. I didn’t know the difference between Warrior I and Warrior II (we don’t do those in Bikram) so I ended up wrenching around to look at the TV to figure out what to do with my arms. And that screwed up my hip, which, two days later is still bugging me.

But what I missed – a lot – was a teacher. Someone who would look at me and offer adjustments and support and who could guide me. Me, individually, not all viewers. While I don’t love being corrected in class (“Hey, Lisa, suck in that stomach!” is not pleasant to hear in a room of 50 people)  I found I actually missed being picked on.

I also missed the group. Which is shocking, because I am so introverted that I qualify for hermit status. I thought yoga alone would suit me just fine but what I found was that I missed the energy of the room. The common purpose.

And that brings me back to what is the most unexpected thing about yoga for me. I love the community. I love the teachers who know your practice and the students who pass no judgment. I crave the feeling that we are all on this journey together, and that someone else has already walked this path and has experienced it all before me – both the brutal and the blissful. And I love the responsibility that I have to welcome the new person and offer the kind words that were said to me the first day I tip-toed into the studio, all nervous and intimidated.

I can’t get any of that from my living room.

So, while I may try a few other video classes for those days when I can’t pry myself from the house, I think my cheap self has realized that paying for classes isn’t a foolish expense; it’s a contribution to the valuable sangha community of us crazy yogis who just can’t get enough.

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