Yoga is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. About 37 million Americans practiced yoga at the beginning of 2016 and more than 80 million Americans were likely to try yoga at some point in that same year, according to a study in Yoga Journal.
What is yoga? It’s a type of exercise that integrates a system of poses and breathing techniques in order to bring physical and mental well-being. There are several varieties, including slower, more meditative styles like hatha that focus on breathing and mindfulness, and active styles like vinyasa that integrate more physical exercises for strength and flexibility.
Whether it’s a way of life or an occasional hobby, many people who practice feel the benefits are undeniable. According to the Yoga Journal study, people who practice yoga reported experiencing increased self-image, strength, flexibility, mental clarity, and spirituality. Several other studies have linked yoga to lowered body mass and risk of heart disease and increased overall well-being. Because it’s great for any experience level, yoga is appropriate for people young and old and for people living with chronic conditions or not.
If you’ve never practiced yoga, it’s worth giving it a try. These apps can help ease you into the practice, challenge you to go further, and help you find the right balance of yoga in your life.
Here are our top picks for the best yoga apps of the year.
Yoga.com Studio boasts that 7 million people have used the app. If you like to learn by watching an instructor or others in your class, this app offers the next best thing from the comfort of your home. In-app HD videos demonstrate every pose in their library of 389 poses and breathing exercises. There’s something for everyone here, with 37 programs available in the well-designed app. For a more in-depth understanding of poses, check out their 3D muscle images. Visit their website for interesting articles, fun facts, quizzes, and to interact with their yoga community.
Pocket Yoga’s vocal and visual instructions will take you through each pose, including your breathing. They’ll even let you integrate your own music if you don’t like their default. You can study the correct body positions from their library of 200 illustrated poses and select one of 27 programs to fit your experience level. To save time, preview a routine to ensure it’s right for you. Since the app tracks your practices and how many calories you’ve burned, you can follow your progress easily. The iOS app works with Apple’s Watch, iPad, and TV, making it easy to practice at home or on the go.
Bring class anywhere and practice at your own pace. Choose between one of their over 70 preset programs of varying lengths, purposes, and intensities, or create your own custom HD video class. You can also work to master your skills by studying their instructional library of 280 poses. The app gives you the flexibility to stream classes on iPad, Apple TV, or iPhone. You can also download them for offline practicing. Select your preferred music and whether you’d like voice instruction or only a signal to change poses. The best part: If you don’t like a pose, swipe to skip it.
Their pose library includes 80 free poses and offers another 110 poses with an in-app purchase. Schedule your classes to hold yourself accountable, just like signing up in a real studio.
Global Yoga Academy
With classes spanning from 5 to 60 minutes and from beginner to advanced, Yoga Academy leaves little room for excuses. Customize your settings and programs and track your progress. They offer a library of 200 poses. If you have questions or just want to connect with other yogis, join their community and get chatting. Downloadable classes mean you can take your practice to that exotic beach you’ve been dreaming of or stay right in your living room. A bonus: They have meditation classes as well.
Universal Breathing - Pranayama
Take a step back from your hectic day to day and find your Zen. Universal Breathing promises that by focusing on achieving slower, deeper breaths, you can reduce stress, alleviate migraines, and even lift your energy. Choose from two different courses where animations and music guide you. Monitor your progress by reviewing the log of your program history.
5 Minute Yoga
As the name implies, 5 Minute Yoga aims to help you with fast, efficient, and purpose-oriented workouts perfect for beginners. Look to the poses for a detailed description and demonstrational image to ensure you achieve proper posture. With a timer to keep you on track, you’re guaranteed to complete your poses within five minutes. Doing these simple exercises for five minutes each day — when you wake up, during a break in the office, or prior to sleep — may help strengthen your body, relieve stress, and increase your flexibility.
With the help of yoga expert Tara Stiles, Fitstar Yoga aims to deliver a personalized coaching experience without needing to step into the studio. With premium access, you’ll gain a steady stream of new workouts each month as well as feedback on your progress. As with a trainer or instructor, you can customize the workout to meet your specific goals, skill level, and time commitment. The app also integrates with many fitness trackers and rewards you by unlocking new poses and badges as you progress.
Daily Yoga encourages you to make yoga part of your everyday routine. They offer daily programs for beginner to advanced yogis. The app also offers several different goals, like getting toned and mastering meditation. They also go beyond yoga and integrate other fitness disciplines like Pilates and high-intensity interval training. With new workouts added each month, you can customize your program and track things like calories to keep you motivated. If that’s not enough, find support with their global community, which also has weekly activities. Even better, they guarantee their results.
If you’re new to yoga, it may seem intimidating to step into a studio. With Simply Yoga, you can ease into it in the privacy of your own space. Join in with the experts, whose videos show you how to perform each of over 30 poses. There are three preset routines, lasting 20, 40, and 60 minutes, with audio to guide you the entire way. If you love the free version and want more, you can move on to level 2 with the full app.
Catherine is a journalist passionate about health, public policy, and women's rights. She writes on a range of nonfiction topics from entrepreneurship to women's issues as well as fiction. Her work has appeared in Inc., Forbes, The Huffington Post, and other publications. She is a mom, wife, writer, artist, travel enthusiast, and lifelong student.