Winter has many of us in its icy grip and for anyone who enjoys exercising outside; winter can be quite the downer. Day light is short and gyms are expensive, crowded, and sometimes far away. This winter, instead of hibernating and embracing those 5 lbs, why not use a smartphone or tablet as gym equipment to stretch, strengthen, and banish the winter blues?
Yoga, an exercise that can be tailored so it is anywhere from calming to invigorating, is a great way to strengthen, tone, stretch, and de-stress. However, for anyone gun shy about hitting a studio and paying around $12 to sweat it out in front of a mirror with yogis whose chakras have been aligned for years, there are plenty of apps to get started. Even for the veteran yogi who needs an easy to use on-the-go yoga studio, these apps will more than suffice.
This is an impressive and expansive yoga app that features ready-made classes, individual poses, and a build-your-own class feature. The ready-made studio classes can be downloaded at the touch of a button and include classes for beginners, intermediate, and advanced yogis. Ranging in ability, duration, and focus, Yoga Studio has a ready-made class to suit anyone’s needs.
This app was truly a great find, and something this writer now uses regularly; in fact, the app was so impressive, we gave Yoga Studio its own review.
iYoga + is a free app for iOS that features full length prerecorded video classes, and it certainly offers a decent amount of classes with the initial download; additional classes can also be purchased on the app’s website. With iYoga+, users have the option to use the app for free without missing out on too many features.
The video for each recorded class features a woman set against a white background performing yoga on a mat, making it easy to watch and follow along. Classes are labeled as morning or evening, and are offered at both level 1 for beginners and level 2 for advanced. The morning classes are more invigorating, featuring standing poses and flows to get blood circulating to wake the user up for their day. Evening classes are focused on stretching and relaxing the body and mind, which can help with getting to sleep and relieving tight muscles after a long day. In addition to Morning and Evening classes, the app offers shorter classes that run anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes and focus on parts of the body such as “Spine and Pelvis” or “Belly, Legs, and Buttocks”. Under a tab labeled positions, users will also find instructional videos for countless positions and flows.
Classes can be purchased on the website, www.iyogalessons.com; some classes are strictly in German, but it is clear on each video if it is also translated into English. All classes can be downloaded to an iDevice so that they will play offline, letting the user take their yoga studio with them wherever they go. Purchased videos can also be saved to a computer, letting those without a device running iOS watch videos on a different OS or on a computer.
Overall, this app offers a decent selection of free classes and would make for a good addition to any yoga repertoire. The evening classes are especially nice, as they are relaxing and will melt away the stress from the day. The instructions are detailed and easy to follow, letting the user focus on doing yoga without having to repeatedly check the screen to make sure they are in the correct position. Best of all, this app is free in the App Store for iOS, making it an easy app to try out without too much commitment.
Much like Yoga Studio, Simply Yoga lets users change the settings for the classes to be delivered in any combination of detailed instructions, pose names, and ocean wave sounds; or none at all. Users are given the option to start an entire workout from the beginning, or to start from a specific pose in the chosen class. The instructions are clear and the teacher gives full descriptions setting up for each pose and moving between each pose; reminding users to relax and to breathe deeply while practicing. The paid version of this app also includes a custom class building feature so users can create a custom class.
The video for this app is a bit more distracting than other yoga apps; it features a girl performing yoga in a living room on her carpet, whereas other apps tend to have either a green screen or nature scene as the backdrop. The instructor also seemed to incorrectly demonstrate a few poses, but anyone familiar with basic yoga poses will still benefit from the class since they know proper technique. Beginners may want to consider reading the instructions on poses or even taking a class in person with a yoga instructor so that they understand the importance of not pushing themselves into poses that aren\’t comfortable.
Simply Yoga can be downloaded in the App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android for $2.99 at the time of this writing. There is also a free version called Simply Yoga Free, which features full length level one classes, but does not offer any higher levels of yoga, or the option to build a class. The free app is still a great tool, especially for beginners unsure about investing in a yoga app before giving it a try.
Pocket Yoga is designed to deliver what other Yoga Apps deliver, but might not do it as well as the aforementioned apps. However, yoga practice is unique to everyone, and this app does deliver some great features. Classes have nature themed names such as Ocean, Desert, Mountain; and the more familiar Sun Salutations A and B. Each class has a description of its focus, unlike the other apps where the name of the class can tell the user what the focus will be. The way Pocket Yoga labels its classes is more realistic to an actual class environment, since when going to a class in person, it is not likely that the teacher will show every pose they plan to do that class beforehand and let the students alter it.
Once a class is chosen, users are able to specify the duration of the class, the difficulty, and the environment. Pocket yoga offers class lengths from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, difficulty levels from beginner to intermediate to expert, and an ocean scene, desert scene, and mountain scene. For the Sun Salutation A and B series, users are able to select the amount of repetitions they want to perform, rather than choose a minute based duration.
There is a section within the Pocket Yoga app that gives descriptive information on each pose, and the different benefits of each pose. The actual classes for this app are a bit disjointed since the instructor is animated, and switching between poses happens abruptly with little instruction on how to go about changing from one to the next. The voice on this app was more distracting than relaxing, but like with other apps, the voice can be disabled or turned down, as can the music. Pocket Yoga is probably a better app for those that are comfortable with yoga and understand the importance of easing into and out of poses to prevent strain or injury. Pocket Yoga is available for $2.99, at the time of this writing, in the Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android.
When compared to other apps All-In-Yoga takes a unique approach to providing yoga classes to its users. There is an option to search for classes by inputting the user’s weight, age, goal, ability, and desired duration. The goals include balance, flexibility, strong back, joint warm-up, breathing exercises, fitness, and de-stress. There are quite a few ability levels offered, with options for beginner, intermediate, advanced, guru, and universal.
When starting a class , choices include “Quick Recipes”, which are ready made programs included within the app; “Personal Yoga Teacher”, which lets users enter their stats and a program will be generated based off the information; and “Fast Mode”, which lets users build classes from the offered poses.
The pose database for this app is more extensive than others and advertises over individual 300 poses, all organized by difficulty and sub categorized by type of pose (standing, twisting, balance, and so on). Users are able to view an image of the pose, read information on it, or watch a video of how to perform the pose. Options and settings offer what most other yoga apps do, but All-In-One yoga also includes the option to have poses be read in Sanskrit, the language yoga is traditionally based in. Special offers can also be turned off so that the app isn\’t constantly prompting the user to buy more apps by the developer.
This app also integrates social media more than other apps do, with the ability to log in with Facebook and to create a user profile within the app. Also included is live support and for $49.99 a year, the user can sign up to have a personal trainer to create programs tailored to users’ specific needs. For those who are experienced with yoga, they can sign up to become a Guru to help improve upon the app.
Overall All-In-Yoga delivers a vast array of options for users with its free app, and provides a great base of support for beginners, in a way the other apps do not. The initial app is free in the App Store for iOS, but a premium version is offered within the app and requires a subscription for either one month, six months, or 12 moths for $7.99, $28.99 (originally $47.99), and $47.99 (originally $95.99) respectively, at the time of this writing. The subscription adds custom built classes generated by the app based off search terms, dozens more ready-made yoga routines, the ability to add personal photos and poses into the database, options share programs with friends, and 20 more songs.