Until recently the way of practicing Yoga remained more or less the same. Either you choose to go to a private or group class nearby or you practice alone at home. In the last few years YouTube Yoga classes became more and more popular as they combine having a teacher and staying at home. More recently also Yoga classes in a virtual environment are made possible with the emergence of virtual reality glasses, like the Oculus Rift, Google Daydream View, …. This again combines having a teacher without leaving home in a more elaborate way.
Some time ago I also gave this a shot and tried a Yoga class with a VR Headset and I have to say that there are still some major problems with this technology but it has definitely the potential to become a new, trendy way of practicing Yoga.
The biggest problem in my opinion is right now is that, while wearing the headset you’re not able to see your own body. This results first of all for the majority of practitioners in balancing problems and secondly in problems related to alignment as you’re not sure if let’s say your leg is really bent ninety degrees in Virabhadrasana B. Subsequently the teacher is also not able to respond to your misalignment since the video is recorded. This makes injuries more likely as it is easier to lose balance or be misaligned in a certain asana. However, an external camera, which captures the student’s movements and transfers them to the headset in real-time, can solve these problems. With the VR technology progressing really fast this definitely will be possible in the next few years.
What I think is the strongest advantage of VR-Yoga is that it makes Yoga classes possible wherever you want, whether it is a beautiful ashram in India or in front of the clear-blue sea.
VR-Yoga can also be a way to expand the practitioners basic understanding of Yoga. This especially could be really helpful in a YTT, as a lot of students including me struggle with all the names of the different asanas and muscles or in which asana which muscle is strengthened or stretched. In a virtual environment all this can be implemented onto the captured video along with all the tips for perfect alignment, which makes it much easier to learn all this at home, while preparing for the YTT exam or just out of interest in Yoga.
Of course this will not become a full alternative to the conventional practice of Yoga, since the majority of practitioners want to have a real teacher and also real humans around them. But VR Yoga can get a nice add-on to your practice.