iYoga Premium App Review

iYoga Premium App Review
iYoga Premium for iPad. Image Courtesy of iYoga Premium

With so many yoga apps now available for your tablets and other mobile devices, it's tough to discern which ones merit your attention and which ones just offer another variation on the electronic flash card theme, a well-saturated market. iYoga Premium distinguishes itself from the herd by offering a unique visual approach. Respected yoga teacher Amy Caldwell acted as the model, yoga expert, and voice-over instructor for the project, making the quality of yoga information on offer well above the average.

Caldwell was filmed performing the featured poses while wearing a special motion capture suit, which allowed technicians to create an anatomically correct avatar whose musculo-skelatar system is on display as she demonstrates each pose.

Option 1: The Pose Library

The app offers two basic modes, a pose library or a sequence builder. In the pose library, the user can select postures by type (arm balance, backbend, etc.), body region, level, or thumbnail image. About 80 poses come with the basic download and more may be purchased through an upgrade once you have the app. After a pose is selected, audio instructions play and users can then customize the display to their preference by selecting a profile or three-quarter view of the pose and opting for more detailed alignment instructions. The coolest feature is the ability to turn on the "active muscle" display, which highlights the muscles that are being used for each pose, color coded for flexing, stretching, or a combination of the two.

Since the active muscle display gets right to the point, the muscles and bones shown on the "regular" avatar do feel a bit unnecessary. Anatomical illustrations are the specialty of the app creators, 3D4Medical, but an option to have the regular teacher look a bit more regular (i.e. with skin and clothing) would be appreciated by this user.

It's actually a little disconcerting to follow along with the skinless teacher, especially since her exposed musculature doesn't serve much purpose when the active muscle display is turned off. I'd love to have the option toggling between a clothed avatar and the one with the active muscles highlighted.

Option 2: The Sequences

The app also comes with seven preset sequences, varying from ten to thirty minutes, and the ability for the user to create their own sequences with an easy drag and drop from the pose library. The presets, which include routines like the Lunchtime Energizer and the Daily Tune-Up, are also customizable: the pose order may be changed as well as the duration of the poses. It's a great tool and my only criticism here is that some of the movements from pose to pose are a little awkward, including pauses that interrupt the flow and transitions that are unnarrated. Still, it is among the most fluid user-initiated sequence interface that I have tried.

The Verdict

iYoga Premium provides a lot of innovations that are beneficial to yoga students, including the expertise of yoga teacher Amy Caldwell, the ability to easily create personalized sequences, and the option to see exactly which (and how) muscles are being used in each pose.

Though I appreciate the complexity of the process that creates the anatomical avatar, I question its usefulness when the active muscle display is not turned on. It's a slight case of overkill, which renders this application a bit less user-friendly than it could be. Nonetheless, it's easily one of the most fully realized yoga apps I have tried and comes very close to having it all. It's a great addition to the home practitioner's toolkit.

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