As the world embraces the digital era, even the serene yoga practice has taken the plunge into the online realm.
While skeptics may question its authenticity and essence, dedicated yoga enthusiasts gladly trade their studio memberships for virtual alternatives. Through online streaming, practitioners can now achieve inner peace from the comfort of their homes.
As much as your physical and mental well-being are essential, you shouldn't put your online well-being on the back burner. Like you'd use a VPN for Netflix, use it during the online yoga streaming session while you roll out your mat and connect with your inner self to secure your privacy and total peace of mind.
To gain more insight into how online streaming tech has disrupted the yoga scene, we contacted Brian Ratté, Founder of YogaVibes – an inclusive yoga, meditation, and pilates website to elevate physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Tell us more about your story. What inspired you to create YogaVibes?
It was just the spark of an idea. After I got sober in 2004, someone suggested that I practice yoga to help me with my monkey mind and with recovery. I joined the YMCA and started taking classes, and one of the teachers there read Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates.
I was blown away when Rolf talked about his sobriety and his notion of surrender in recovery.
Just knowing Rolf was in recovery and knowing he was a yogi inspired me. I also had a strong feeling of wanting to give back through my AA experience; it became a desire to share what yoga was doing for me with as many people as I could.
I am a technology executive. So after practicing yoga for a bit, I saw the possibility of evolving the technology. This was still a time when Netflix was mailing out DVDs, and I felt that streaming would be an innovation. I started cobbling things together. Through trial and error, I created a model where I asked teachers if they would want to film classes and share their content and create a win-win so teachers could share their experience sustainably, and I could also employ others to run YogaVibes.
Can you introduce us to what you do? What type of classes do you offer?
YogaVibes.com is a small business built for the virtual world. We have streamed over 7+ million yoga, barre, mat pilates, and meditation classes to 40,000 + customers in 200 Countries.
We offer 2,000+ streaming class videos” on demand” and live classes daily via “Zoom.” In 2020 we decided to offer Corporate and Organizational memberships at a fraction of the cost of individual memberships so that employees, affiliates, and other members of any organization may benefit from the safety and convenience of “virtual classes.”
We similarly expanded our live class offering of Corporate Wellness by acquiring Om Office Yoga, so our small business now reaches over 375 corporate clients from Silicon Valley to Mumbai and beyond!
What are the most popular classes on your platform at the moment?
Our most consistently popular classes span several areas because our subscriber base is so diverse. The most famous teacher on our platform remains Rolf Gates. Rolf has pre-recorded lessons as well as several weekly livestream classes.
Our morning livestream classes are also very well attended, with Brittany Winans as a teacher. Our subscribers like to rise, shine, and get a sweat going in pre-recorded content! Because many of our students enjoy an energizing class, we also see well-attended use of the pre-recorded Core Fusion® and yoga for athletes categories.
Finally, because we emphasize holistic wellness by focusing on the body and mind, we have many students who find the pre-recorded sleep wellness and meditation classes soothing.
What role does mindfulness play in the practice of yoga?
Yoga cannot be practiced without mindfulness! Mindfulness is intentionally directing the mind through thoughts, just as yoga is consciously moving the body through poses. Mindfulness can also capture thoughts in stillness for resilience, just as yoga is about finding moments of stillness to strengthen the body.
Both our mental and physical aspects lead us to a better personal life as well as to be better at being in the community, including our workplaces.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start practicing yoga?
Be open to exploring and learning personally what you like and what benefits you. Yoga today is a vast and open practice that includes seated meditation, and active vinyasa flows.
Know that even the most advanced yogis are human and started out just where you are now. Everyone experiences a lack of motivation. Life is busy for us all in a modern world, and the key is to move and adjust your practice as you go through life’s transitions.
NOTE: It is always best to consult a doctor if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Your safety is our utmost concern, so make sure to take care of yourself!
In your opinion, how can people establish a healthy balance between using technology while still managing to focus on their mental and physical well-being?
We love the practice of blocking our schedules! Time blocking is when you set aside specific times during the day when you'll check your phone or computer and then stick to those times.
It's a really simple way to stay connected while still making sure that you're giving yourself enough time away from screens and, therefore, more time to focus on other things like yoga, mindful movement, or your close connections.
It is helpful to effectively prioritize, and that is one skill we go over in detail in our Corporate Wellness stress reduction education series.
In this digital age, what would you consider the essential security measures everyone should implement?
People should have an attitude around their personal identity just as they have with personal property. As you would take care of your physical valuables, you have to secure your personal identity and social persona.
This means putting safeguards in place to protect your identity and being mindful of what you share. Hackers and identity thieves are getting smarter and more innovative. With the advent of AI and ChatGPT, it will become even more critical because using those tools makes it easier to impersonate others.
Since the wellness sector is your main field of focus, how do you think this industry is going to evolve in the upcoming years?
There is an overarching impact of tech in our modern life, and it continues to grow and change. So AI now has the potential to allow more content to be self-created. So as it unfolds, it will impact every aspect of how we think, spend our time, and spend our time in wellness, including physical activities.
This is similar to the way YouTube changed our interactions online. When YouTube launched, suddenly, people could put home-filmed videos on the internet. AI will allow us to generate any type of content, including really good videos. The creativity will be limitless, which is really exciting. It will be amazing to see what comes from that.
And finally, would you like to share what’s next for YogaVibes?
We are currently investigating, testing, and implementing the next generation of technologies to give our customers better experiences with more variety.