[App Fridays] On International Yoga Day, try the Down Dog app that claims to offer the best studio-like yoga experience at home
Yoga, India’s gift to the world, has gained popularity, and how. Dating back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, the modern world has seen a resurgence of different forms of yoga: Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Hatha, Bikram, Jivamukti, Kundalini, and many more.
And while everyone wants to make yoga a part of their life, time paucity and busy schedules often crop up as roadblocks. But what if you could do yoga, at home or work, at your own pace and your own time?
On International Yoga Day, we review an app that aims to make yoga a part of your life. All you need is a mat, some motivation, and the Down Dog app.
Down Dog provides a studio-like experience, offering a set of customised sessions that ensure that no two yoga turns are the same. Featured in the Editor's Choice section of Google Play Store, the Android version of the app has been downloaded more than one million times and is rated 4.9 out of 5. There is also an iOS and web version. Incidentally, Down Dog, or Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), is one of yoga's most widely recognised yoga poses.
Down Dog was started by two developers, Ben Simon and Carlos Ormachea, who share a passion for yoga. Ben and Carlos met in college, and in February 2015 decided to quit their jobs to start working full-time on building the app in Seattle. They eventually launched the iOS version of the app in August 2015 and the Android version in March 2016.
This app focuses on modern Vinyasa yoga, a style of yoga characterised by stringing postures together so that you move from one to the other seamlessly, using your breath. This is also known as ‘flow’ yoga. If it sounds a tad boring, wait till you try this app. The more than 30,000 configurations will ensure that you never repeat the same workout flow.
Getting started with Down Dog
As with all apps, you need an account to get started. This step is essential - you fill in your requirements as the first step. This includes what kind of yoga you want to practise, how you want to, and how much you want to.
The app lets you personalise your yoga routine in impressive ways. You can choose the duration, from five minutes to 90 minutes. You can also set difficulty level - intro, beginner, or advanced – along with type, pace, relaxation period, etc.
This is not it. The app makers have taken the app-based studio experience to another level. For instance, not only can you choose the accent of the instructor, you can also choose how much instruction you want, from default mode of step-by-step guidance to silent mode (if you don't need any guidance). Pick from seven different yoga teachers to be guided by a voice you love.
A user can choose a full session (involves a warmup), or opt to start without warming up. Simple yoga (without flow), restorative yoga, and only sun salutations (surya namaskar) can also be chosen.
Users can also select what they want displayed on the screen; the options include the names of the poses (in English or Sanskrit), timeline, countdown, etc. The app is also available in non-English languages, including Hindi, French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.
The studio-like experience
The best part about this video-focused yoga app is that the videos are very clear; they stream on the full screen without any frames and bezels. This creates a studio-like experience. In fact, we found it much better than a studio due to the extremely fine quality of video even in normal mode. A user can even choose resolutions like HD, low-res, only picture, depending on internet quality. We tried streaming video on 4G mobile data, in normal resolution, and it was super stunning. The videos are really high quality and smooth-flowing from one exercise to the next, almost like a livestream.
The best part of the app, however, is that it is not internet dependent. A user can download the sessions and use without internet on the device.
The sound of music
Down Dog also offers dynamic music selection. The app plays soft music in the background as you get started with your session, and the music playlist changes each time you start a new one. We loved the music, especially the fact that it rises and falls with your breath and pace.
Even the background music can be changed to suit the user’s taste. Anybody who has taken a yoga class before knows that enjoyment hinges on the music and instructor, and this app checks off both boxes.
The quality of lessons
Each session has an in-depth instruction video with subtle background music. The instructions are so clear that a user can follow every step without looking at the phone.
While the sessions are Vinyasa-focused, a user can add boosters to sweat a little more and to target focus areas. These boosts include aerobics, back strength, chest shoulder, hip opening, low back opening, upper body strength, etc.
What does it cost?
The app appeared free to us. However, according to user reviews, users get three free sessions, after which they need to take a subscription priced at about Rs 550 per month. However, we tried more than three sessions, and the app continued to run as free. Even if it isn’t, the app is worth the subscription fee.
But don’t just take our word for it. Play Store has user reviews that reiterate that the app is excellent. One of the users says, “I especially like that I can customise everything about my workout (length, focus, music, etc.) and that the routine is different each time, even when repeating the same settings. I feel like I'm getting more out of this app than from any class I've taken, and at a fraction of the price and time investment.”
Seamless syncs and UI
Since the Down Dog app can be accessed on Android, Apple, and web, you can automatically sync across all your devices using your account. The app can also be connected to Google Fit.
Down Dog is the one of the best apps we have come across in terms of its tech game. The app is really simple, uncluttered, and has an easy-to-use interface.
For real, the Down Dog app is workout-rut proof. Each time you practise yoga with Down Dog, the app creates a brand new Vinyasa sequence, which means you will never get bored. The amazing music playlists and clear vocal instruction with high quality video will definitely encourage you to make some time for yoga every day.
The app is best suited for busy professionals, people who are travelling, or those who have no fixed schedule. We recommend that you use the app, find your perfect practice, choose your yogi level, type of workout, time duration, pace, and device. And repeat yet not repeat! Every single day!