Look up kintre (筋トレ) on YouTube and you’ll be flooded with pages of transformation videos, high-intensity workouts and even impossibly buff people doing calorie challenges. If you’re like me, this content might turn you off and make you recede further into the comfort of bed, blanket and Netflix. Perhaps you don’t feel like heaving in a Tokyo-scale living room (if you do, click here), and you’re wary of going to a gym at the moment. If you’re now looking to parks, trails and streets for a workout, heatstroke warnings might convince you otherwise.
While I shudder at labels like “kintre,” “HIIT,” “high-intensity,” “sweaty” and even “workout,” I find I’m always eager to do a yoga video at home – even when it packs a bigger punch than proper “workouts.” Not only is there a variety of yoga types to suit your intention, asana knowledge and general fitness level, but yoga is a practice bigger than flexibility, muscle or external atmosphere, encouraging you to become a field of concentration wherever you may be. It’s fun to feel yourself getting stronger and to try out funky poses, but it’s ultimately about strengthening the bond between mind and body, studying your body by moving and breathing consciously, and pushing your limits – of patience, focus and, as a byproduct, physical fitness – accordingly.
What’s great about Japanese yoga YouTube is the number of short videos, gentle flows and spot-targeting practices, making it great for people less familiar with the physical aspect of yoga. Here are five channels to begin your yoga practice and make moving a meditative moment.
Staying home for prolonged periods – especially during what was supposed to be summer vacation – can stress the body and mind. Luckily, now you can receive clear, studio-caliber instruction online to make up for more indoor time and, for younger students, the cancellation of radio calisthenics. The popular hot yoga studio LAVA is releasing the series “Yoga Calisthenics” on its YouTube. These are bite-sized videos that can easily be incorporated into your daily routine and can be performed sitting or standing, at home or work, upon waking or at bedtime. They also introduce you to basic postures and stretches.
Mariko from B-life is the unofficial ruler of this sector of YouTube, as she offers a range of content: longer flows, gentle morning flows, videos that target anything from the immune system to hip tension, self-massages and more. Though the videos on her main channel are in Japanese, she speaks clearly and with simple language that captures the essence of each pose, such as telling you where to direct air when breathing, using certain onomatopoeias to describe poses and delineating the benefits of each practice.
Like B-life, Arisa’s channel champions yoga for any occasion, from various easy morning yogas to full-body flows. As is custom, sometimes the focus is flattening the stomach, losing weight, cardio or what have you. But a good amount of her videos are for refreshing or awakening the body, serving as stress relief. Out of all the online yogis I’ve seen, Arisa probably behaves most naturally, and her conversational tone and relaxed air ease you into each practice. No fitness robots here. See here for her at-home flow.
Nozomi from nozomiyoga, like much of Japan fitness YouTube, works in short form; the longest of her videos are just over 10 minutes. Like her video lengths, her content itself is practical, good if you have a perhaps body-focused intention like losing weight, relieving back pain or for postnatal fitness. Likewise, Nozomi’s training videos are great for people too busy for hour-long flows, and they’re sure to keep you coming back every day due to sheer convenience. Selections include daily circuit training for your back, abs and butt; beginner tutorials for aerial yoga; foam roller tutorials, and even purification breathing.
Arina is a NYC-based yoga instructor and newer YouTuber. As you get further into your practice, her 30-minute videos (“Hip Hop Yoga with Power Vinyasa Flow,” “Slow Burn Vinyasa,” “Vinyasa Flow for Tititbasana”) are challenging but invite necessary modifications. If you want to work on a certain pose rather than yoga-cardio, try the bakasana tutorial, headstand tutorial (be careful!) or backbend flow.