This coming June 21 is the International Day of Yoga, established by the United Nations in 2014. The benefits of this meditative practice have been more than proven: beyond religiosity, it provides a physical and mental wellbeing that touches on a great many different aspects of life.
What is yoga?
As a physical activity, yoga involves doing meditation exercises involving concentration, relaxation, and controlled breathing while doing a set of poses and harmonic movements to bring the body and mind into sync. This relaxation and inner control leads to a flourishing of one’s capacities at all levels, be it impulse control, planning and decision-making, or relating more positively with one’s environment. To take it a step further, the key to yoga is learning to manage one’s chakras, or points of energy located along the spine.
All these benefits impact on many other things, and can even lead to a healthier lifestyle rooted in the teachings of yoga. As Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, a leading master of contemporary yoga who died a few weeks after the proclamation of the International Day of Yoga, stressed, ‘Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.’
Great apps to get you doing yoga
Practicing yoga requires instruction in its principles at both the intellectual and purely physical level. For the latter there are various apps to guide you with instructional videos and images of the different poses, called asanas, and are usually perfectly complemented with other tools to improve your relaxation.
1. Yoga.com Official App
The website Yoga.com is one of the most important communities for yogis. Its official app compiles nearly 300 exercises and 37 programs arranged by difficulty. All are illustrated with professional videos to help you learn to do them properly. It also includes explanatory notes and lots of supporting images showing the muscles involved in each movement, as well as audio narration so you can do each exercise without having to look at your device the whole time.
2. Track Yoga
As its name indicates, TrackYoga goes a bit further to offer a compendium of exercises to do at your own pace. It encourages you to be consistent by ‘gamifying’ the experience and tracking your progress and then setting objectives for you according to your level. In the end, doing any exercise (no matter how spiritual the background) requires a bit of sacrifice and urge to improve oneself.
The app includes instructional videos along with a full description of each movement, catalogued by type. As if that weren’t enough, the app lets you talk to a professional yoga instructor and ask any questions in a private chat.
3. Daily Yoga
Surely the world’s most-used app for learning yoga. Its main appeal is that unlike similar tools it lays out the limitations and requirements of each exercise so you’re aware of the difficulty and duration of the set of asanas being presented. Its high-quality videos, explanatory texts, and illustrations help you schedule weekly exercise cycles according to your own needs.
4. Meditation Sounds
Yoga requires a high level of concentration to reach the proper state of consciousness for doing a session. The sound environment greatly contributes to reaching this state, which is why apps like Meditation Sounds are so useful.
This tool includes a huge library of relaxing nature sounds, which you can combine to create the perfect environment. You can also set a specific duration to suit it to your yoga session.
5. Yoga Guru
The appeal of Yoga Guru lies in its offering of specialized exercises for different yogis, be they pregnant women, people with posture problems derived from cervical illnesses, or people suffering from sleep disorders.
Based on Hatha yoga, it offers fully illustrated themed tutorials with multimedia content that you can follow and link to an internal calendar to keep track of your progress.