After realizing I gained a couple of kilos(aka pounds) at the end of 2016, I felt the need to get my body some much needed exercise. I remember Yoga being a savior when I was diagnosed with PCOD several years ago. Back then it helped regulate my weight, stress and hormones. It took around 2 months for the benefits to manifest, but it was worth it. So I decided to get back to Yoga this time as well.
But the idea of attending an hour long class with additional time required to drive there and struggling with parking space was not appealing. My mommy-obsessed toddler was waiting for me to come back home after work, so a Yoga class was not an option like my single days. I figured that a yoga app could be a viable solution. There is an app for everything under the sun, so I thought there must be apps for Yoga for sure. And boy, was I right.
There were several apps and I downloaded quite a few. Many of them, I uninstalled after trying just a single session/class. In most apps, the instructor’s tone sounded so monotonous and boring- almost all had a narrator different in the background and not the same person doing the poses. And the movements seemed robotic. It just did not feel like a good old yoga class at all. Then I bumped into the Down Dog Yoga app on android and it seemed to tick all the boxes off. These are the reason why I loved the app:
1. It's free
The first and foremost reason to choose this over other apps is that is FREE app unlike several other apps, paid home videos or websites with streaming classes. The basic features are completely free with the app. The paid/membership related options are listed in point number 3 below.
We must add that till date there are NO ADS even in the free version. Which we think is absolutely fabulous.
2. Studio experience
The app boasts to be the closest app you can get to a studio experience and I can second that. The instructor, the music and the visuals, all seemed to provide an experience very close to a gorgeous yoga studio.
3. Customization options
They go even further than a group yoga class to a private session in your living room (or wherever you prefer to practice), by giving you so many options to make each session customized. There are customization options for:
Sequence Practice type- You can choose between Intro to Yoga, Full Practice, Short Practice, Restorative and Quick Flow. None of the poses specifically include blocks, pillow or any fancy equipment- only you and your mat will suffice. Update: This is now changed to Full Practice, Quick Flow, No Flow and Restorative. I love that they have added the option of ‘‘No Flow’’ which gives you standing poses without the Vinyasa based chaturanga pushups.
Level- At the time of the original post, there were fever levels and now you can choose between 6 levels, i.e. Intro to Yoga, 2 Beginner, 2 Intermediate levels and even Advanced for some practice types.
Length- One of the biggest draw is that you can choose the duration of your practice. There are varying lengths available from 10 minutes to 110 minutes based on the Sequence and levels you choose.
Other Options- There are other options that are Paid, which is Voice, playlist/music type, Pace; and Boost to focus on specifics such as Aerobic, Flexibility, Core, Back Strength, Chest Shoulder Opening, Flexibility, Twists etc.
Also read our post about how to keep your Yoga mat clean by folding it the right way. The way Yoga mats are rolled is just unhygienic!
4. Dynamic and not boring
This amazing app generates a new sequence every time you practice. The other apps we tried had prerecorded videos, which can get boring after doing it a few times. The repetitive nature of the class was why I left yoga practice I started years ago- the same sequence every single time can feel like a boring routine and not motivating anymore.
Is Yoga right for you? I wish I could say yes. To know the answer, read our post on what is the best form of exercise.
5. Online and offline sessions
When I downloaded this app, the classes were only available in online mode over an internet connection. So if you were say, travelling or without an internet connection, you could not use the app for practicing yoga. They added the functionality of saving a session for offline use only around the second quarter of 2017. A very welcome upgrade indeed.
Having the online option for this app helps in not taking up precious storage space on your smart phone or tablet. But even if you download sessions for offline use, they are not too big in size.
6. Soothing instructor voice
One of my colleagues commented that the voice of the instructor was so soothing that she could go to sleep listening to her. I did find her voice soothing but in a good way, especially in comparison to the other apps where the narrator sounded almost robotic. Now they even have different voices to choose from(some are only in the Pro version).
7. Impressive Support
The guys at Down Dog respond immediately to your emails. Top notch customer service from a top notch app. They are constantly improving and updating the app. From when I started using the app, the level, length and type of practice has only increased in the app.
There was just two thing we felt could be improved:
1. Lacks actual videos (before April 2018)- Down Dog heard us and introduced videos!
In our initial post, we found the lack of actual videos as a very negative point of the app. But Down Dog heard its users and introduced videos. This is another example of their top notch customer service where they worked on their users' suggestions.
(Old Post when DownDog App did not have any videos- The sequences/poses are actually pictures and not videos. It is probably the trade off for having the functionality of a dynamic sequence for each session. Even though the instructor gives very good explanations for each post, this app may not be very ideal for absolute yoga newbies. So we recommend doing a few local yoga classes before, if you are practicing Yoga for the first time. For someone who already has experience in Yoga, if you are having trouble with a particular pose, they have a YouTube Channel/Playlist with detailed pose breakdowns.)
2. No Pranayama or Breathing exercises
Every physical Yoga practice or class is incomplete without Pranayama or Breathing exercise. Down Dog does not have any breathing exercises included in any of the Sequence types. We felt this was a major missed point.
To Pro or not to Pro?
The basic version of Down Dog app is free to use and ad free (Yippee). Currently the app's Pro version costs around $8 per month or $50 for a year (half the price of the monthly payment). I had the Pro version for a year when there was a hefty discount offer. But after it expired, I am doing just fine with the Basic version. I do sometimes after a long day at work, crave for the boosts of chest shoulder opening and twists that are available only in the Pro version.
Should you get the Pro version? We think it depends on whether you want the following features of the Pro version:
|Option||Free version||Pro version additional options|
|Boost||None, Aerobic, Hip Opening||Back Strength, Chest Shoulder Opening, Core, Flexibility, Hamstring Opening, Hip Flexor Opening, Low Back Opening, Standing Balances, Twists, Upper Body Strength|
|Voice||Original, Carina, Carlos||Sammi, Chad, Mars, Isaiah, Xinia||Music||Alt Beats, Spiritual, None||Alt Beats(Fewer Lyrics), Acoustic, Ambient, Piano and Strings None|
|Pace||Slow, Normal||Slowest, Fast, Fastest|
|Visuals||Standard Video, Low Quality Video, Images, None||HD Video|
New to Yoga? They have an app for that now
The guys at Down Dog are just amazing- always improving and not resting on their laurels. Downdog launched the free for life Intro to Yoga app which has set practices/routines for complete beginners. They have options of short routines of the following:
Intro to Hatha Yoga
Intro to Vinyasa Yoga
Intro to Restorative Yoga
The poses are thoroughly explained(with a choice of different voices) so someone new to Yoga can learn the nuances of each pose. Once a newbie has the basics down and is ready to practice every day, they can move the main Down Dog app.
A final word
So the final verdict is that this app has just bowled me over and become a part of my journey towards a healthy body, mind and soul. It is undoubtedly one of the best fitness apps out there for the Yogis among us.
You can read more about the app on their page at https://www.downdogapp.com/ . The app is available both on Android and Apple / itunes.
Disclaimer: Always consult a Doctor or Healthcare practitioner before commencing any exercise. Any opinion or post on this website should not be substituted for Medical advice.