Wondering if Donna Farhi’s MasterClass on Yoga foundations is worth it?
Or what value this class has to offer above a typical YouTube video?
Then this Donna Farhi MasterClass review is here for you.
I’ve completed the Donna Farhi MasterClass and followed along with all the breathing activities, warm ups and poses. Plus, over the last few years I’ve attended in-person yoga classes and, during the pandemic, tried a number of yoga YouTube videos.
So I can compare and contrast with what else is on offer.
In this Donna Farhi MasterClass review I’ll be covering everything you need to know, and sharing my personal experience, to help you decide if this is the right course for you.
So let’s get started!
First, if you’re short on time, here’s the highlights:
Learn how to:
- Commit yourself to a program of relaxation
- Overcome any limiting conditions (stiff joints, etc)
- Warm up
- Set up for basic poses
- Listen to your body so you can evolve your practice to match your needs
- Perform the Sun Salutation along with 13 postures – with different ways in and props to allow for you and your individual body
- Apply what you learn ON the mat, OFF the mat
- Lessons from one of the most sought after yoga teachers in the world
- Comprehensive course on Yoga fundamentals grounded in anatomical principles
- Well structured course that builds understanding and practice incrementally
- Focus on inner awareness to evolve & personalize your own safe practice
- Improves flexibility and releases tension
- Boosts your mood and concentration
- It’s effective – for me anyway
- Quite a short class
- Not for everyone (see below for details)
Course length: There are 10 video lessons totalling 1 hour and 58 minutes
Best for: Billed as Yoga Fundamentals, this class is best suited to beginners, anyone who feels they ‘can’t do Yoga’ or has tried Yoga and had a bad experience with it. I would say it’s less applicable to anyone above intermediate level, although if that’s you, you could still get a lot of value with an all access MasterClass pass
Overall: An incredibly thoughtful and comprehensive class that really helped me realize the complete benefits of yoga for the first time. Lots of practical lessons that are carefully curated to build understanding and awareness and guide you on your way. If MasterClass is within your budget, and you can find a couple of other classes to take alongside this one (such as Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness and meditation), the Donna Fahri MasterClass could be a great investment. I definitely took a lot away!
And now for my more detailed review, here’s what I’ll be covering:
- A look inside the Donna Fahri MasterClass
- Pros and cons of the course
- Is the content unique?
- Is there anything better?
- Verdict: Is the Donna Fahri MasterClass worth it?
First the basics:
About Donna Farhi
“If you have a body, and you can breathe, you can do Yoga.”
Donna Farhi is a Yoga teacher with over four decades of practice behind her.
She’s written five books on practising and teaching yoga, a large number of articles for Yoga International and The Yoga Journal, and been featured in several publications as an exceptional teacher – including Elle.
Donna’s taught all over the world and advocates a freer type of practice that focuses on the ‘force that animates the body’ rather than the body itself. A focus that is much more in line with the traditional philosophy behind Yoga.
Her teaching combines anatomical principles, breathing and moving. But above all she seeks to cultivate in her students an inner awareness that enables them to evolve their own practice safely, in line with their own specific needs and abilities.
Donna’s lengthy recovery following a serious riding accident, gave her insights into the ability of the body to heal itself. This now also informs her teaching.
And if you haven’t seen the MasterClass trailer for the Donna Fahri MasterClass, you can check it out here:
Founded in 2015, MasterClass is one of most popular online learning platforms out there.
It has one simple aim – To provide the likes of you and me with access to learning from the world’s finest.
It differs from other platforms in two main respects: Its teachers have achieved global recognition due to their talents and achievements and it has very high cinematic production values.
With an annual membership, subscribers get access to over 150 world class instructors and classes across a wide range of subjects.
Donna Farhi’s class sits beside classes from other world renowned experts such as mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn, writing with Margaret Atwood, gymnastics with Simone Biles and cooking with Gordon Ramsay.
Inside the Donna Farhi MasterClass
Donna Farhi’s MasterClass comes in at one hour and 58 minutes of viewing time. It consists of:
- Ten video lessons which are mostly between 10-15 minutes long
- Access to an online community
- A 36 page workbook giving background information on Donna Farhi, a guide to Yoga basics, a glossary of terms together with a list of common props and accessories, an outline of different practices, diagrams of common poses, and much more.
You’ll be getting a lot of highly practical sessions, all of which contain detailed descriptions, explanations and helpful screen graphics to boost learning. These are prefaced by two mini documentary style videos where Donna introduces herself and explains the ideas and philosophy behind the practice of Yoga.
I’ve summarized the lessons below to give you a sense of what’s involved.:
1. Meet your instructor
“The heart of Yoga is about learning to be kind and compassionate to yourself. And if you can learn to do that, it’s likely you’re going to be kind and compassionate to others.”
To a backdrop of soothing music and hypnotic images, Donna Fahri introduces you to her MasterClass.
She then shares how she has taken principles she’s been working with for over forty years, and distilled them to the most quintessential elements of yoga practice for this MasterClass.
Donna promises that each chapter will contain something simple, but fundamental to your understanding of what Yoga is.
Then she sets out what she wants you to take away from her class which is:
- How to commit yourself to a program of relaxation
- Healing practices to overcome any limiting conditions
- Ways to set up for basic poses
- How to listen to your body so you can evolve your practice to match your needs
- A consciousness of what matters in the world
If you’re new to yoga, she hopes this class will confound your expectations of it and come as a refreshing surprise.
For those with more experience, Donna offers a reorientation around how you practice and hopes to refresh your inspiration and motivation.
With that in mind, let’s see if Donna’ MasterClass lives up to its billing.
2. What is Yoga?
“Yoga is the settling of the mind back into its original silence.”
In this short lesson, Donna provides an understanding of what Yoga is by referring to:
- Where it originated from
- What its purpose is
- And its ability to restore our connection to a still mind
Donna is keen for us to understand that the focus of the practice is to find the part of ourselves that is always steady and accessible.
In other words, it’s not about adding something that isn’t there, but accessing something that is!
3. Essential Breath
Here, Donna teaches the importance of regulating the breath, and the impact this can have on the nervous system and experiences of stress or anxiety.
Though there is some theory here, such as how proper breathing can balance the nervous system and the consequences of only ‘chest breathing’, most of this lesson is practical.
You will be guided through exercises to help you:
- Raise awareness of your normal breath patterns
- Breathe abdominally
- Breathe diaphragmatically (using the diaphragm)
And lastly, there’s an activity to measure how much your breathing has altered as a result of these exercises. I liked this, it was great to have a progress marker so early in the class.
4. Yoga warm-up practices
This is another very practical lesson in which Donna explains the importance of warm up techniques to prepare the spine and joints for more intensive postures.
Donna takes you through a number of warm up moves which she calls:
- The primary figure 8 loop
- Forager fold, and
- Cat pose
I especially liked the way Donna showed you what NOT to do, and also how she demonstrated which props and adjustments you could use if you have any limiting conditions.
5. Building your foundation
Donna begins this chapter by reassuring you that the hundreds of yoga positions that you see in books, all have their roots in a few foundational principles.
In this lesson you will have the opportunity to engage with some of these basic movement principles.
She begins with a simple movement practiced in every yoga studio, the downward facing dog.
Through this posture, Donna emphasizes the importance of connecting to the feeling of ‘breathfulness’
I’ve done quite a bit of yoga and found this way of adopting the downward dog something of a revelation. It’s a more fluid, less rigid, approach than I’m used to.
There were also a lot of tips for adjusting the pose for limiting conditions (tight hamstrings, hypermobility) and for keeping your spine ‘happy’. These were all clearly demonstrated, along with ‘what not to do’s’.
The same process is repeated with:
- Child’s pose, and
- Mountain (standing) pose
6. Moving from the Inside Out
“Often, when we learn movement, we learn it from the outside in. In this class, we’ll be exploring moving from the inside out.”
Donna explains what she means by this, and how heightening your awareness of how movement travels in and through the body can alter everything you do.
This lesson is about developing that felt connection to movement so you can use it as a resource for finding the correct alignment for you in yoga postures.
The postures she has chosen to demonstrate what she means are:
- Warrior II
- Side Angle pose
- Revolved triangle
I particularly liked the fluidity of the preparatory moves. The student coils and pushes off to create an awareness of where the force of the movement is coming from and travelling to.
Donna also pushes against the student’s hands to test that the force is travelling correctly.
This is something I’ve never seen in an ‘in person’ class and the on screen graphics really help you to understand what is being taught.
7. Sun Salutations
“No pain, truly is your gain….pain is a signal from your body to choose another pathway.”
Here Donna explains why this series of standing postures deserves a chapter all of its own.
She emphasises that we all begin Yoga with different bodies and body histories. So it’s important to adapt our Yoga practice with that in mind.
So Donna offers you different points of entry into this flow of yoga movements. And she also provides a number of preparatory postures to warm up the back.
I liked the continual emphasis on getting in touch with the flow of movement within your body (which picks up from the previous lesson) and Donna’s emphasis on adapting postures for your particular body and finding different points of entry.
As Donna says, a key takeaway from this chapter is that there’s no shame in working with yourself exactly where you are.
8. Finding your centre
“As much as you need. As little as possible.“
This remark refers to the need to be sensitive to the supports your individual body might need to achieve the correct action for, and benefit from, each pose.
Responding to the needs of this particular student, Donna supports her through the following moves:
- Staff pose
- Head to knee pose
- Sage pose I
What Donna stresses, is that it is presence of mind in each movement, not how far you go that matters. That’s comforting!
9. Mobilizing your back
In this lesson, Donna demonstrates safe ways for you to extend your spine.
She warns against being influenced by the extreme backbends that have become ‘the thing’ in Yoga. Whilst extension is good, we have to bear in mind that the spine was not designed for these very extreme movements.
The key takeaway from this lesson is that a little bit of extension goes a long way towards strengthening your back and promoting a beautiful erect posture.
After using the Locust pose as a warm up, Donna uses the following postures to extend the spine:
- Cobra pose
- Bow pose
As in previous lessons, Donna uses props such as blankets, blocks, belts and bolsters to show how the pose can be adapted for different body types and limiting conditions.
10. Restoring your mind
“We nourish ourselves, so we can then nourish others throughout the day.”
In this closing chapter, Donna reminds us not to forget to relax at the end of your practice!
She encourages you to make at least ten minutes for it and takes you through variations of the corpse pose to achieve it.
She also takes you through basic meditative practice to help restore the natural balance of mind and body.
As she bids us farewell, Donna shares how she doesn’t use her time on the mat thinking about how she can get better at what she does on the mat, but how she can get better living life off the mat!
She hopes you will enjoy your practice and that it helps nourish you and enables you to be fully present in your everyday life and have something to offer others.
What I liked about the Donna Farhi MasterClass
Comprehensive course on Yoga fundamentals grounded in anatomical principles and taught by a respected teacher
This is a detailed course covering a range of pathways into the fundamentals of Yoga.
It was reassuring (to me) that Donna demonstrated such a secure knowledge of the body, and to hear things explained so clearly.
If, like me, you need to understand how and why things work in order to fully engage with them, you will appreciate Donna’s clear style.
Well structured, lessons build on and support each other
Donna’s class is carefully structured and the lessons flow into each other well.
Different movements and poses are explained, demonstrated and then combined in a way that builds understanding and boosts progress.
There are also onscreen references to the workbook where you can get further information if you want to go into more depth for a particular pose.
Caters for a range of individual needs
Insofar as a person can use the most effective teaching methods in a pre-recorded course, Donna does it all.
By using students of differing abilities Donna demonstrates different points of entry into Yoga movements.
She also shows how props can be used to overcome limitations and, crucially, how to be sensitive to your body. Aiming not to achieve a perfect shape, but the best balance and maximum benefit for your individual needs.
I liked this differentiated approach to practice and the way techniques were cleverly broken down and practiced in turn.
And it was great there were some, ‘What not to do’s’ along the way.
It’s super helpful to see common mistakes when initiating a movement, and clear explanations about why these must be avoided.
Great balance of theory and practice
With only two short documentary style lessons at the beginning, most of the lessons in this class are very practical.
Nevertheless, as poses are demonstrated there are clear explanations as to what is happening, and why, with reference to anatomical principles to support safe practice.
This is well supported by on screen graphics.
Good use of screen graphics and camera angles for total clarity
This is something you can’t get from an in-person class, or a YouTube video (at least not in my experience).
These angles and annotations really help to make sense of what the movements and poses should both feel and look like.
Extremely effective (or it was for me)
I’ve practiced Yoga on and off for three years.
Maybe it’s the particular form of the discipline that I chose (Iyengar) which is very strict on alignment and form.
But I’ve always found the classes a tiny bit stressful, though I have benefitted from them. The emphasis always being on the shape of the posture, rather than developing a sense of my own alignment within it.
Donna’s more fluid style of teaching and her emphasis on listening to your body and evolving your practice from there was definitely more enjoyable.
What I think could be improved/Cons
A short class
Whilst it packs a lot in, this is nevertheless a short class coming in at just under 2 hours.
It is the kind of class you will keep coming back to, and see something new each time, but you may want to factor the length of the class into your decision to purchase.
Not for everyone
Donna’s MasterClass is titled ‘Yoga Fundamentals’. So it clearly is not targeted at experienced Yogi/Yogini!
That said, more experienced practitioners may develop a new take on their practice given Donna’s unique approach. However, there will not be any poses you are not already familiar with.
Who is the Donna Farhi MasterClass for?
In my opinion this class would be a good fit for anyone who can tick one or more of the following boxes:
- Seeks a greater level of health and well being
- Is curious to explore yoga practice for the first time
- Feels they are not flexible, fit or thin enough to do Yoga
- Lacks the motivation to get back on the mat or has struggled with the practice of yoga in the past
- Is intellectually curious and looking for adventure
- Just feels life could be better
In terms of existing knowledge? On a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is a newbie and 10 is a Yogi/Yogini I would rate this course as suitable for those who fall between 0-6.
How much does the Donna Farhi MasterClass cost?
MasterClass pricing may have changed since this review was written, so for the latest purchasing information please check here.
At the time of writing, a MasterClass subscription costs $180 per year. AKA $15 a month.
The subscription gives you access to all 150+ courses on MasterClass.
The great thing about this offering is that the more classes you take, the less the effective cost per class is.
If you can find just 3 other classes that pique your interest besides this one (and I challenge you not to) that means you are accessing some of the world’s best minds for only $45 a piece ($180/4).
You get to revisit the videos as much as you like within the year your subscription is active and you can keep the PDF workbooks forever.
What’s more, MasterClass also offers a 30 day refund if you’re unhappy with your purchase.
Is there anything better than the Donna Farhi MasterClass?
On the MasterClass platform itself, there are currently no other classes on Yoga.
That said, this class would sit well alongside a number of others I’ve reviewed. These include Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness and meditation, Matthew Walker and the science of sleep and Robin Roberts on authentic communication.
In terms of other platforms, there are quite a few Yoga courses out there.
Udemy has over 800 courses available, though the instructors are not of the same calibre and experience as Donna Fahri. Also, they tend to focus on a narrow range of topics and practices. So you might have to take several of these to gain the depth and range of information covered in his class.
There are also a number of specialist platforms such as Yoga Download which has a variety of subscription options giving you unlimited access to over 1.7k videos, a mobile app and various TV streaming channels.
And, of course, there are endless YouTube videos and channels offering Yoga tuition. From personal experience I know you can spend a lot of time, watching a lot of videos (and adverts) before landing on one that is right for you.
And even if you subscribe to a YouTube channel, it’s not always clear which video you should move onto next!
With MasterClass you have the benefit of broad coverage, delivered by globally recognized experts in the field, all curated in one easy-to-navigate place.
Taking this into consideration, and given Donna Farhi’s credentials, I would say her MasterClass represents the best value if you fit into the target audience AND there are other classes on the platform that interest you.
For more information check out our best online yoga class review.
Is the course content unique?
Although Donna has several videos on YouTube, these are only ‘sneak peeks’ into her practice.
In addition, though she has published five books, none of them quite mirror the curriculum that Donna has created for this MasterClass.
In this class, Donna has distilled her forty years of practice into the most quintessential elements of yoga practice.
She has carefully curated a comprehensive course that incrementally builds understanding and awareness of what Yoga is, and how you should practice it safely and attentively.
And of course, with MasterClass cinematographic quality production values, you gain insights that simply can’t be achieved from the pages of a book.
What you will need
The workbook lays out the essentials you need overall, and each lesson is prefaced with a screen letting you know which items you will need for that particular class.
In sum, you will need:
- A Yoga mat
- Yoga blocks and straps
- A bolster (or you can use towels, cushions and blankets)
Verdict: Is the Donna Farhi MasterClass worth it?
It is a “Yes, …but”, from me.
I learned so much from this MasterClass. It has shifted my relationship with Yoga, made me more accepting of my practice of it and I’m feeling tangible benefits as a result.
If Donna Fahri is right about Yoga, and her credentials suggest she is, then taking her class could influence your life OFF as well as ON the mat.
But… I have an all access pass and have enjoyed over 20 other MasterClasses.
So, my verdict is that with so much free Yoga content out there, you should take a look at the other 150+ MasterClasses that are available.
If there are just two or three that interest you besides this one, then I would say it is definitely worth investing in a MasterClass subscription and taking Donna’s class.
And MasterClass also has a refund policy, which removes the risk of you losing out if you don’t enjoy it.
So what have you got to lose?
Frequently asked questions
A MasterClass all-access-pass costs $180 a year ($15 a month). This gives you access to all 150+ courses (and their resources) for 12 months.
Donna Farhi’s masterclass is 1 hour and 58 minutes long and consists of 10 video lessons.
Unfortunately you cannot get the Donna Farhi MasterClass for free. But MasterClass has a range of purchasing options and offers refunds if you’re not happy.
Yes, MasterClass operates a 30 day refund policy if you purchase directly through them. If you purchase through other providers, their returns policy may apply.
Liz Hurley has 30+ years of high school teaching experience and is one of our senior writers here at Learnopoly.