99 US cents
Most yoga students do their downward dog in a plush studio surrounded by other acolytes. But when time is short, a podcast can do the trick. Finding the right one can be a chore because there are literally hundreds of them. One of the best is the no-nonsense Pocket Yoga.
Based on a modern-day form of classical Indian yoga called Ashtanga Vinyasa, the app is rooted in conscious language, focused attention and breath work.
An 'iYoga' experience should be judged on three basic qualities: clear audio, visual guidance and variety. Pocket Yoga does well in all three.
Audio can make or break any meditative experience. At times, the 'inhale, exhale' instructions on the app sound a bit robotic. The tone was neither relaxing nor encouraging while I was panting on my hands and knees. But most of the time, vocals are subtle and neutral, as computers go.
The visuals provide clear guidance. The animated yogi is placed in a choice of three settings: desert, oasis or mountain. Her movements are clear, without venturing into eerie realism. It's good enough to use without sound, which is the most controversial topic in the yoga app market.
Both instrumental and instructional audio can be turned off, leaving room for customisation. The music itself is not bad, but its simplicity can be tiring, especially if you're practising daily. Users are free to tune in to their own Ravi Shankar playlist, with or without the app's vocal accompaniment. This is a great feature, although providing compatible music would have been more convenient.
The variety of workouts is very good and does not sacrifice efficiency for quantity. Users can match cardio, power or flexibility with three levels of difficulty. Sessions are 30, 45, or 60 minutes.
All sessions are logged, so it's easy to track your progress. That can be a real confidence booster.
With no blocks, straps or inflatable balls required, Pocket Yoga provides what it promises: an approachable yoga app for any level. For a low price, it can take you from being a beginner to a practitioner with dexterity and stamina.