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My New Love: Yoga Studio App

Posted Feb 21 2013 12:00am

Yoga, oh yoga... I've had an on-and-off relationship with this noble activity since my early 20s. My very first yoga lesson happened at a beautiful hotel right next to the Taj Mahal in India, where G and I had just met up with his siblings, mom and cousin. After an early start to watch the sunrise just behind the greatest monument to love ever built, we trodded back to the hotel and had a very bendy Indian yogi introduce us to the mysteries of twisting, bending, stretching and collapsing... (It was rather comical lying in between G and his bro, there was a lot of cracking, creaking and general moaning going around).

Over the years I would fall in and out of love with yoga. Mostly due to the in/convenience and cost of local classes. With our recent move, I'm back to square one, although I know for certain that Brighton is full of yoga studios. But, back to my old dilemma: I'm cheap and need my gym membership to run out before I can start spending money on classes that would also be available there (I think they put on Iyengar classes, about which I know absolutely nothing and am hence too intimidated to go and try them. Plus they're an hour and a half long. What if I don't like it or can't do anything??).

Anyhoo, I digress...

Recently, I came across a blog recommending the Yoga Studio app. It sounded pretty good so I gave it a try. I think it cost something like £1.99? It was money well spent. I absolutely LOVE this app. I really think it's the next best thing to having a real-life instructor in your living room to correct your poses.

So what's so good about it?

First of all, there are ready-made studio classes (I think you can also create your own classes, but that's a bit too advanced for me). You can search for classes depending on ability (beginner, intermediate, advanced), focus (balance, combination, strength, flexibility, relaxation) and duration (0-20, 20-40 and 40-60 mins). The selection is humongous compared to buying a yoga DVD (and much cheaper, too).

Once you set your yoga class, the instructor talks you through the lesson and there's a very bendy lady doing the exercises on the screen, so you can always refer back to your device to check whether what you're doing is correct. I've actually found that I don't have to look at the screen very much at all as the instructions are clear and everything is explained quite well (and it obviously helps if you've done some yoga before).

The way I've practiced this so far is that I've simply put my phone (also works on the ipad) at the top of my mat and work through the lesson. Sure, the disadvantage is that there's no one there to correct me and in the long run that might not be perfect, but for now it's ideal and I can imagine that it would come in very handy while traveling when it's all too easy not to do anything. Or after a long day's work when it's so much easier to roll out your mat in your living room rather than schlepp yourself back out into the cold and dark to go to your studio. So, no more excuses if you got your yoga instructor in your pocket.

The other day, I did my first full 60-minute combination class (as opposed to doing just 15 or 30 minutes of post-run flexibility). I was worried about it feeling a bit random, too long, too awkward, etc. Instead, it felt amazing. Unlike a group-led class, it was just me, myself and I and I just got on with it. No interruptions, no waiting for people to arrive and get settled, no getting cold on the mat, no waiting longer in one pose than another because the instructor is adjusting someone else, and so on. I could just get on with it and that for me was a big bonus. Also, it's moi who chooses the focus of each session as well as duration, so another win.

There is also a section in which poses are depicted (I think that's how you can put together your own class) and, best of all, there's a poses-tab that explains pretty much any yoga pose out there (as far as I can judge at least), providing a detailed description of how to get into and out of the pose, the benefits (did you know the Awkward Pose 'strengthens the ankles, calves, knees, thighs, gluteals, core muscles, shoulders and arms'? No? Me neither. I didn't even know it existed) and provides modifications for beginners and advanced variations as well as little warnings ('if you have knee, hip, back or shoulder inflammation, you may want to avoid this pose'). How cool is that?

And, just to top it all off, the app not only keeps track of all your sessions in the schedule, so you can always refer back to see what you did when and for how long you practiced, but also lets you schedule future sessions as friendly reminders. Groovy!

I was (am still) so impressed with this app that I got in touch with the brains behind it and guess what? The lovely yogis from Yoga Studio have agreed to give away three free app downloads to you, the fantabulous Two Itchy Feet readers!!! 

So, if you're intrigued and are itching to get your yoga on, here's how you can win one of the three downloads:

In the comments below, answer this: 'What is your favorite yoga pose and why.'

For extra entries like the Two Itchy Feet Facebook page;

OR follow me on Twitter and tweet about it (for ex: I just entered the @YogaStudioApp competition on @jens_itchy_feet [but feel free to get creative]);

OR follow me on Instagram and tag me in a pic of you in your favorite (yoga) pose (this is my favorite option and if you do do that, that entry deserves a triple chance. Cause I'd be seriously impressed!!!).

So, plenty of ways to enter (basically if you do all of the above you could have six chances to win one of the downloads.

Winners will be chosen at random and all entries have to be in by midnight (GMT) of Wednesday, 27th of February 2013 (although G is trying to convince to make you send in pictures and let him choose the winner. He can be rather naughty!!!). GOOD LUCK!
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