You don’t need a studio to practise the ancient art of yoga – all you need is an empty space at home and the right iPhone app. Even if you’ve never done the downward dog on a yoga mat before, it’s never been easier to go from a yoga novice to the real deal using nothing but your iPhone or iPad.
Before launching into your first pose, it’s wise to make sure you’re going to be as safe as possible while taking your virtual yoga class.
First, that means clearing a decent space in your home. Around 21 square feet is a good rule of thumb, since it leaves space for a standard-size yoga mat with some room around the edges, too.
Speaking of yoga mats, if you have one, use it – if you don’t, then consider ordering one. Mats are slightly cushioned and are gentler on your joints (especially those risky wrists), and should also give you more of a firm footing – particularly when used on hard floor surfaces.
For the same reason, practitioners of yoga are always advised to go barefoot. You’re less likely to slip on your yoga mat if you aren’t wearing socks.
Last, try to take your virtual yoga class when there’s no risk of interruption. This might be harder for those with families, but yoga is a mindful and peaceful practice; total immersion is definitely advised.
And if you’ve got an iPad, Apple TV, or even AirPlay speakers like Apple’s HomePod, use them. Yoga can work on the smaller-sized iPhone’s screen but you’re definitely going to appreciate a bigger screen and bigger sound experience.
Down Dog is free to download on the App Store. It’s the yoga app we’d recommend for a number of reasons.
The first reason is choice. There’s a huge range of yoga practice types in Down Dog (Vinyasa, Hatha, Gentle, Restorative, Yin, Ashtanga, Chair, and Sun Salutation), and a total of six different practitioner voices to choose from.
All of those practice types means the app boasts a total of 60,000 different configurations. Down Dog randomly creates yoga routines based on these configurations, meaning you aren’t likely to complete the same routine twice. In this respect, the app emulates the feel of a real yoga class as closely as possible – you aren’t going to get bored easily.
The second reason we love Down Dog is that it’s beginner-friendly. There’s a free three-day introductory course which beginners will really appreciate. For those who’ve never stepped inside a yoga studio before, the course is perfect.
And the third reason we love Down Dog? Well, it’s packed with a bunch of well-thought-out features. For instance, you can alter the balance between music and voice in yoga routines, and you can set the app to “offline mode” if your Internet connection is unreliable.
The app’s “boost” feature also lets you focus on particular areas – like your back, neck, or hips.
Best of all, Down Dog is available entirely free of charge until May 1, 2020 – the app usually carries a subscription fee of $8 (£8) per month, but to help those stuck at home during the pandemic the April fees have been waived entirely. There really has never been a better time to try out yoga at home.