Update on 2018-02-23: Apparently this app has moved to a subscription business model instead of a paid-up-front app. This is really disappointing to me, since guilt about not having worked on a habit like yoga or meditation mixed with guilt over also not cancelling a subscription could be detrimental to some people's practice. I seem to be grandfathered into keeping the features I already had, so I won't be searching out a replacement app anytime soon.
Yoga helps with flexibility, joint and muscle strength, and who knows what else. Plus, it’s a really good way to be meditative while moving (great for the hyperactive among us). Here are some of the reasons I chose the Gaiam app:
Variety of guided yoga sessions
I can sort yoga classes by skill level, practice focus (e.g. flexibility, strength, or a combination of these), or duration (e.g. 15m, 30m, 60m).
Create your own custom classes.
Because this isn’t a series of seamless videos, but sets of yoga poses with instructions, you can create your own “class” out of poses you want to do regularly. This is one of the better apps I’ve found with this option: the transitions aren’t as wonky as most similar apps I’ve tried. Though they are quite lacking compared to a full live-action yoga video, at least this app uses real people paused in the poses, not 3D modeled creatures from the uncanny valley.
Music is an option
The app gives you several suggested yoga music options, or you can use music from your own library.
There aren’t a ton of pre-made yoga sessions, but I’m not using it so regularly that it has bothered me at all yet. There are quite a few to chose from, in addition to the ones you can create yourself.
Connects to the iPhone Health app. It will send a light exercise session to the Health app.
Yoga videos are downloaded, not streamed. This could be good or bad, depending on your needs. But it’s something to be aware of if you have connectivity or storage limitations. Files are small and previously downloaded videos can be removed individually.
1-time purchase. As a general rule, I don’t use or recommend apps or services that require a subscription in order to be useful.
Yoga Alternative for Children
I’ve recently discovered this fantastic yoga series for children that is absolutely delightful. It’s called Cosmic Kids. They also have some mindfulness mediations for children. Many of their programs are available to watch on YouTube. P.S. They’re also great for adults with short exercise-attention spans!