Searching "yoga" in the App Store or Google Play returns hundreds of results, turning what should be a relaxing workout into a stressful decision-making experience. That’s why we’ve removed some of the guesswork for you and tested three of the most popular apps. Read on to skip the stress and get right to Namaste!
App Store Rating: 4.5/5 stars
A co-worker recommended Gaiam to me, raving about her experience. I went in with high expectations and was pleased Gaiam did not disappoint. Although I have done yoga in the past, I wouldn’t label myself as a professional, so I signed up for the beginner track.
New users will be enrolled in a fourteen-day free trial. After the trial ends, the service costs $1.99/month or $19.99 for the year.
In the app, you are able to create custom classes and add certain poses or blocks, which I really liked. This personalization allowed me to tailor a lesson to my specific needs. Gaiam also includes a meditation option which is a great way to unwind without having to download a separate application.
Put to the Test!
I chose "Yoga for Back Pain (Gentle Backbends)" - as I have bad back issues from swimming - at a medium intensity.
- The download took less than 30 seconds, so I wasn’t waiting long.
- I really enjoyed the video style — it was easy to follow, especially if you are a beginner and don’t know the names of yoga poses off the top of your head.
- The app describes the poses and how to correctly achieve them without injuring yourself.
- The classes were well paced and fast enough that I didn’t make excuses to skip out on the exercise.
- At the end of the class, there was a congratulatory message which made me feel very accomplished and inspired to do yoga again soon!
- You have to download the classes before watching them.
- It will auto-charge my Apple account at the end of the two weeks. I often forget to cancel subscriptions, so inevitably I will get charged for this app.
App Store Rating: 4.5/5 stars 2,481 Reviews
Next up was Asana. I had originally downloaded Asana Rebel onto my phone as a part of my New Year's resolution to start doing yoga daily. I kept up this routine for a month until school and work got the better of me. I did like Asana when I used it, so, I wanted to see how this app held up against others. You need to select a goal at the beginning - and can change it later on - to either "Get Fitter" or "Lose Weight."
You don't get any sort of free trial when signing up, which was slightly disappointing. On the other hand, if you do choose to pay for the Coach version - which costs between $12.66 per month for three months (at that point, you can renew) or $299.99 for a lifetime subscription - you can cancel anytime and receive a seven-day money back guarantee.
All programs are unavailable without Coach (the Pro version), while the majority of single workouts are available. This includes workouts like a cleansing detox yoga session, fat-burning yoga and a flexibility hangout.
Put to the Test!
The workout I chose was "Beach Body" and was thirteen minutes long.
- The app offers "Today’s Workout" which I liked, as I prefer to make as few choices as possible! (You can choose a different workout if you don’t like the suggested workout).
- It showed how many calories the workout will burn; in this case, 91 calories.
- There was a quick warm-up before the session started.
- The video shows how much time you have left in the session and gives a preview of the next exercise, so you can prepare yourself.
- The session ended with congratulations and confetti over my screen, finishing on a positive note!
- When the video began, a robotic voice began to instruct the session. This was a huge deal breaker for me. I found it really distracting and the voice itself was choppy.
- Once the beginning part of the session was over though, the automated voice was taken over by a human voice. This was even stranger for me, because the transition threw me off.
App Store Rating: 5/5 stars 2,321 Reviews
"Down Dog" was in the top five yoga apps in both the Apple App Store and Google Play, so I decided to test it out.
I signed up through Facebook and immediately was given full access to the Pro settings for two weeks. To become a Pro member at the end of the two weeks, it would cost either $7.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
The Pro settings include adjustments to pace of practice, ability to change the music style and "boost" a specific practice area or body part. There were three different types of sessions: full practice, restorative and quick flow. I chose a Beginner 1 level session, although the app also offered Beginner 2, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and Advanced options.
Put to the Test!
I decided to add a "boost" to the session and chose "Low Back Opening." The session was fifteen minutes long, which was a perfect length to fit into a busy day.
- The voice was easily heard over the music, which was helpful.
- I liked that you could choose a specific body part for the workout to focus on.
- The different paces were helpful, as you could squeeze in a yoga session for any amount of time.
- The music played alternative beats, and I found it rather distracting, but there’s also the option of having no music so this wasn’t an issue for me.
- When the video began, I was really disappointed. It was simply a slideshow with a voice-over. It seemed a little amateur compared to Gaiam and Asana Rebel. Because it was a slideshow, I found it confusing to follow.
- The poses are only referenced by their official names, and not well described. This was frustrating, especially as I chose the most basic level.
- The images showed what the pose should look like, but as it wasn't a video, I didn’t know how to correctly assume the position.
So what's the verdict?
Overall, I think that Gaiam will be most helpful for those who are just starting out in yoga, while Asana Rebel might be more suitable if you are trying to track workouts and have long-term exercise goals. Down Dog may be helpful for those who are well-versed and committed to yoga. Hopefully, this takes a little of the guesswork out of choosing a yoga app. Good luck with your next yoga endeavor!