Your smartphone may not be the first place you go to when looking for advice on your yoga practice--after all, the latter is about being in touch with your body and mind, while the other is about being in touch with ... everyone and everything else. But sometimes your smartphone can be a great yoga companion--for example, when you're trying to master a particularly difficult pose without the help of your teacher.
Yoga apps number in the thousands, and they're not all just repeats of the same poses and basic workouts. While some apps certainly are full-featured yoga guidebooks, others focus on particular types of yoga, such as the art of yogic breathing, or airplane yoga (apparently, that's a thing). We've rounded up ten yoga apps to help you in your practice--whether you're a beginner looking to learn the basics or an advanced user looking to tackle highly challenging poses.
Daily Yoga--iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8 (Free, with subscription options)
If you want a full-featured yoga app, Daily Yoga is a good place to start. This multiplatform app offers several beginner workouts for free, as well as more-advanced workouts that you can purchase for a monthly subscription fee of $2 to $3 a month. Along with training sessions, Daily Yoga offers a library of poses with videos and written instructions, a music library, and a community in which you can post your workouts and achievements (and rank yourself against other Daily Yoga members).
This app has a couple of minor issues, though: First, the training sessions are plugins and must be downloaded separately. Second, the Windows Phone 8 version of this app doesn't exist--only individual versions of the app features (Daily Yoga for Abs, Daily Yoga for Chest, and so on) exist, and you must download each separately.
All-in Yoga--iOS ($2; HD version, $5)
All-in Yoga is an attractive, full-featured app with a pretty pink-and-purple color scheme. This app features dozens of workouts (found under My Programs), a pose library with over 300 poses, a calendar that helps you track your workouts, and a magazine with tons of yoga-oriented articles.
The app also offers premium features, such as special fitness programs, music, and the option to add custom poses to the pose base, for a subscription fee of $18 per year. All-in Yoga comes in both a regular and a tablet-optimized version, so iPad users can take advantage of their tablet's larger screen.
Simply Yoga--iOS, Android ($3)
If you simply want to work out, the aptly named Simply Yoga will help you do just that. It lets you pick the duration of your workout: 20, 40, or 60 minutes. For each time limit, the app offers two workouts; you can also create custom workouts. The workouts are easy to follow, with video, audio cues, and the name of each pose in both English and Sanskrit. Simply Yoga FREE lets you try the first workout for each time limit before you make the full purchase.
Yogify--iOS (Free, with in-app purchases)
Yogify is a new yoga app from Electronic Arts. This elegantly designed app is free to download and comes with five free classes. After the first five classes, which include three beginner classes, one intermediate class, and one advanced class, each additional class is an extra $2 (or $4 for an entire level; $10 unlocks all classes).
Each class features a seamless video with audio cues, so you can practice quickly and easily wherever you are. The full Yogify experience boasts 35 hours of yoga over 50 classes and more than 275 yoga poses. There's no pose library, but at the beginning of each class you'll see a list of each poses used; you can click on each one to see pictures and written explanations.
Pranayama, or the art of yogic breathing, is often neglected in yoga classes--simply because it isn't all that interesting to spend a lot of time, well, breathing. Luckily, this is one of the easiest parts of yoga to practice on your own (and a cornerstone of yoga practice).
BreatheMate is an iOS app that helps you follow the 1:4:2 breathing pattern (breathe in, hold, breathe out). The app lets you choose your breath length (4, 8, 12, 16, or 20 seconds) and then it vibrates or chimes (or both) to let you know when to breathe.
Universal Breathing: Pranayama--iOS, Android ($5-$6)
If you're looking to delve a little deeper into the art of pranayama, look at Universal Breathing: Pranayama. The app features a structured course to help gradually reduce your breathing rate. This app lets you customize your breathing pattern (for example, you can choose how long to breathe in, hold, and breathe out) and tweak multiple options, such as how many breaths you want to take per minute. The app also features different difficulty levels, information on both pranayama and breathing in general, and links to related articles.
Airplane Yoga--iOS ($4)
Airplanes are pretty stressful places, generally speaking. So it follows that practicing yoga might make an airplane trip a slightly more relaxing experience. But how do you practice yoga on a plane? Easy, just download Airplane Yoga, which features 24 sitting and standing yoga poses that you can perform on a plane.
About half of the poses are demonstrated in video clips, and all feature illustrations and audio cues. The app also includes a section on "strategies for Zen-like air travel," which includes tips for planning, packing, and getting through the airport stress-free.
Yoga in Bed: Awaken Body, Mind & Spirit in 15 Minutes--iOS ($5)
Getting out of bed is ... also pretty stressful. Luckily, there are actual yoga poses you can do in bed. 'Yoga in Bed: Awaken Body, Mind & Spirit in 15 Minutes' is a universal iOS app that walks you through 20 stretches and poses that you can do without (really) getting up. Okay, I'll admit that 'Yoga in Bed' is a little misleading, since most of the poses do involve actually moving around, not just lying still. I was picturing something along the lines of corpse pose, with my eyes closed, and the covers pulled up. But while the postures in Yoga in Bed do require movement, they're all fairly gentle and relaxing. Each pose is also demonstrated with a video clip.
Gratitude Journal--iOS ($1)
Gratitude is an important part of the yoga practice for several reasons: It's essential to overall health and well-being, it's about letting go of negative thoughts and feelings and embracing the positive, and it helps you be at peace with your body and spirit. And a great way to remind yourself of all the things you have to be grateful for is by keeping a gratitude journal.
Gratitude Journal is a simple little app that helps you do just this. With this app, you can rate each day, write down things you're grateful for, and add photos and quotes. You can also record the weather, change the font, and bookmark entries, and there's even a calendar with little hearts for each day you complete your journal.
MindBody Yoga--iOS (Free)
Sometimes you just want to find a yoga class--not practice yoga on your own. In these instances, you can turn to MindBody Yoga, a free iOS app that uses your current location to find yoga classes near you. It lists classes and times, studio names, and address/phone numbers, as well as instructor info.
You can view search results as a list or on a map, and you can also book some classes directly through the app. This app might not be so useful if you already have a yoga studio you like, but it's great for finding drop-in classes when you're traveling.
Find your Zen
You can uncover plenty more yoga apps where these came from. If you're looking for something specific, such as yoga for weight loss, yoga for therapy, or face yoga, there's an app for that. (And you thought Yoga in Bed was unusual).
If you practice at a specific studio, there may be an app for that, too. If you just want to read about yoga and the practice, there's an ebook for that. And if you're looking for a laptop that's as bendy as you are ... check out the IdeaPad Yoga 13. Go forth, and find your Zen!
This story, "10 yoga apps to help you find mobile Zen" was originally published by TechHive.