A: First of all, congratulations for starting—or thinking about starting—a home practice. Practicing a home is the best way to create the yoga practice that’s best for you, rather than just hoping your teacher will happen to give you the right class.
And, believe it or not, you’re not the first person we know who wonders about doing yoga in front of a TV. When I wrote the section on motivating yourself to practice in the book Moving Toward Balance, I interviewed yoga teacher Jason Crandell because I knew that he started his own home practice while watching The Simpsons. Here’s what he said:
Every day for a long, long time, I would get out of the warehouse and get home and watch “The Simpsons,” the 6:00 and 6:30 episodes. So I bartered with myself that for the 6:00 to 7:00 period, I would, no matter what, five days a week, lay my yoga mat out in front of the TV and do as much yoga as I could. It seemed like a perfect trade, and it didn’t seem like it was at cross purposes—it didn’t seem like it was ironic or even funny—it just seemed like it was a reasonable thing to do And it worked beautifully. And then basically what happened was that I started to become more interested in what my body was doing in that period and “The Simpsons” actually became more of a distraction. It was a natural evolution that I turned it off after a few months.
So, yes, you absolutely will still get the benefits of developing strength, flexibility, and balance if you practice in front of TV. As Shari Ser says, “Any movement is better than no movement.”
That being said, you will be missing out on some of yoga’s important benefits:
- Stress reduction. TV is distracting, not relaxing. If you practice while watching the news or drama, your stress response may be triggered by things you see or hear.
- Mindfulness. Not paying attention to your body as you practice will prevent you from learning about what works for you and what doesn’t, and you won’t reap the benefits of the asana practice as a moving meditation.
P. S. There is nothing from The Simpsons on youtube so I went with one of my favorite TV show openings (I love the song by Massive Attack). I briefly considered including the credits for "True Blood," which is probably my all time favorite opening, but was worried it would be too racy for some people.