Yoga is increasing in popularity every year. Not because it’s the cool thing to do, but because it has real benefits. Its reputation as a great way to tone up those flabby bits is well deserved, but add the requisite level of commitment, change up your lifestyle to match, and you’ll also find it makes an incredible impact on your general well-being.
It’s more practical than something like running; all you need is a little space. And while you could certainly join a class and get direct coaching, many prefer to practice yoga in the privacy of their own home.
However, leading yourself through yoga isn’t necessarily the best idea. Even experts might find they’re doing something wrong with their technique, or need nudging in the right direction towards new poses and transitions. Beginners need even more of a helping hand. And that’s where apps come in.
Grab a good yoga app, and you’ll get a pocket-sized instructor to lead you through your routines wherever you might be. Find the right app, and you might learn new yoga poses, find out the science behind your movements, and more. There’s generally a fee, sometimes a big one, for the more capable apps, but there are ad-supported freebies out there too.
So, get more bendy, laser-focus your mind, and breathe like a master with this selection of the best yoga apps on the iPhone and Android app stores:
POCKET YOGA: This app downloads everything to your phone – there’s no need for any network connection. So if you’re in a tranquil spot in the woods, if you’ve been banished to a desert island, or if you’ve simply run out of mobile data, you’ll still be able to go through one of the 27 included sessions.
Those sessions vary in difficulty and duration, so you’ll be able to find one to suit your ability or your time available.
There’s also a dictionary included which walks you through every step of finding the correct posture and alignment for each move, to ensure you start your yoga journey right.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re well-practiced in the ways of yoga, the tools are there to track your progress, stay motivated, and you can even unlock new virtual environments as you improve.
YOGA STUDIO: While there’s a prenatal yoga section that’s one of this app’s big selling points, you do not actually have to be pregnant to use it – there are 65 classes included which will suit just about anyone of any skill level.
Select a class which suits your time frame, or select based on your level of focus, or something you particularly want to work on. If you only have a quarter of an hour and need to enhance your relaxation, or you want to work on balance for a full hour, you’ll find something to suit you.
That prenatal section, though, is where things really start to shine. It’s designed both to help expectant mothers’ bodies support the healthy growth of the baby, while also encouraging the little blighter to move further away from the ribcage to allow for easier breathing.
There is a little catch, though. Unless you stump up for a subscription you won’t be able to get access to the full suite of poses, create custom classes, or tap into the wisdom of master yogi Rodney Lee.
DAILY YOGA: Whether you’re after a totally toned stomach or just a slightly better all-around look, yoga is a great way to burn off that excess fat. Daily Yoga naturally provides yoga, but it also throws in Pilates, Vinyasa, and HIIT for a truly intense workout for all abilities.
You can work on technique and focus through the class plans, or drill down to more specific targets: weight control, body sculpting, strength and beyond.
The instructions are lucid enough that you’ll at least know how to do the most complex moves, even if your body doesn’t cooperate.
The fitness focus continues in the extra features – you can track calories burned and overall workout times in order to move step-by-step towards your own personal goals. It’s subscription based, so the basic app is a little barren, but as ever it’s a question of personal motivation. If you’re going to pay up, you’re more likely to follow the plan.
UNIVERSAL BREATHING PRANAYAMA: You might think of yoga as a tool for improving flexibility, or something to get you toned. It is that. But it’s more: this particular app focuses on the more meditative side of yoga, helping you to master the correct breathing techniques. This can lead to real health benefits: better sleep, greater stamina, lower blood pressure, and much more.
Follow its extensive courses, and you’ll learn techniques which you can apply any time you’re doing yoga (or even when you’re sat at your desk).
There’s not much of a focus on poses, so you’ll need another app for that, but this is a great way to improve your other skills.
5 MINUTE YOGA: You’ll probably find the pose videos here a little weird. Rather than just showing a master doing their thing, or displaying a standard animation, they highlight the pose from within the human body, illustrating exactly what you’re doing with your muscles as you pull them off.
Creating your own routines is a simple case of filling a timeline with poses from the app’s extensive catalogue, whereby they’re played back seamlessly as you work out – although you’re only given audio guidance as you go, so you’ll need to do a little revision beforehand.
Doing so is reasonably easy, since you can view each pose from multiple angles, which should help with accuracy.