Long ago the yogis in India used the term sangha to describe a community of like-minded people. The Buddha was a yogi who developed buddhism and sangha is one of the essential components of his teachings. In other words, it's one thing to diligently practice yoga and meditation by yourself but spending quality time with other yoga practitioners is equally important.
When you reflect on this term, sangha, you will probably realize that you belong to several groups that share a common bond. Family, friends, co-workers.
What distinguishes the term sangha from a common bond group is the phrase like-minded. When I ponder like-mindedness I recall moments of genuine agreement, as in, "Yes, I feel that way, too." Or, "I agree that this is the way to do this." Or, "I have some questions and doubts but I basically agree that our common goal is the same."
Weekly yoga classes often become a sangha, especially if there is a core group of students who attend a class regularly. You'll know that sangha energy is present when you step into the studio and someone smiles and nods at you ("I see you. Welcome.") or perhaps calls your name and asks how you are today. Nothing more needs to happen beyond that - simply, here we are together doing this class.
Sanghas aren't competitive or judgmental spaces. You could say that sanghas are safe havens for the trial and error moments that are inevitable in asana or pranayama classes - attempting a pose, a technique and perhaps not achieving it today. In a sangha, you feel safe and secure while 'failing'.
You also feel safe when you have break throughs, moments of success within a pose or an affirmation from the teacher. Your fellow students are genuinely happy for you, even though no one has to say a word. You feel it.
And then there are all those classes where you know you are traversing a wide plateau of faith in the practices but not much is changing. Your sangha understands because each one has had that experience, too.
We live in paradoxical times - so connected by computers, cell phones and apps but also oddly disconnected when we rely on the technology too much. Instead of attending a local yoga class, we think that 'doing a class' in front of our computer monitor or TV screen is an equivalent experience - but, it isn't.
Watching a streamed video or DVD can provide useful information and experiences that get you going or keep you going when taking a class in person isn't possible but it can't provide a teacher who sees you, responds to you personally and who supports your development step-by-step.
Taking class in front of your computer screen won't provide a community of like-minded people who share your affinities and aspirations. You have to be willing to leave your home, go to the class, introduce yourself and for an hour or so, be in the presence of people who are dedicated to Yoga, just like you.