Down Dog – A Yoga App Review

feet in tadasana pose on wooden floor

This probably is the strangest post you’ll ever see on this blog. First, because I don’t do reviews. And second because, of all things I could review if I were to, I doubt I’d ever choose to talk about an app (I’m so analog). But having stumbled upon Down Dog a couple of months ago made a real difference for the state of my chakras, and I consider this totally worth a shout-out.

By the way. I’m writing this out of my own free will – the good people behind this app have no idea I exist and did not hire me to write anything nice about their work.

The first time I ever tried yoga was shortly after the worst boyfriend I ever had dumped me in the most painful of ways (by getting his ex-girlfriend pregnant). I was so heartbroken I had to do something not to drown myself in tears of doom and close to my place there was this cute little yoga studio which shot a whiff of patchouli up my nose every time I passed it, and so I thought – why not give it a try? In the nine years connecting that first practice and me now, I’ve developed a consistent pattern of signing up for classes and/or workshops whenever I need to feel a bit better about myself, attending them for a couple of months, and then forgetting about it as soon as I think I don’t need it any more. Thanks to this, I’ve reached a level of eternal beginner, never really taking a step into a more serious kind of practice, but also having performed enough sun salutations in my life to know what kind of spinal alignment to look for in an asana.

Right now with my life as it currently is (full-time Toddler Wrangler and Household CEO, part-time screenwriter) it’s basically impossible for me to attend classes in an actual yoga studio. But, as I’ve been increasingly hungry for getting yoga back into my life, I’ve been looking for alternative solutions. I tried compiling a playlist of yoga sequences on Youtube, I tried downloading three of the most successful free yoga apps on my phone, but none of them got me to pull out my yoga mat more than a couple of times. Why? Because I found it a total turn-off that the sequences in my playlists were always the same, it made me feel like a hamster on a wheel repeating the same poses again and again, without any element of surprise, or growth.

Also, the recorded voices guiding the practices on most apps felt extremely mechanical, and more often than not the videos featured a computer-animated “human” illustrating the asanas, rather than an actual person. I was almost ready to give it all up when by complete accident I found Down Dog and fell in love with it from the very first try. It’s FREE, it’s very user-friendly, and it’s perfect for eternal beginners such as myself.

Here are the reasons why I love Down Dog Yoga  App:

  • Because EVERY SEQUENCE IS ALWAYS DIFFERENT! – I start my app, choose what kind of yoga I want to do (more active or more relaxing), pick my difficulty level, pick how many minutes I want my practice to last (anywhere between 15 and 90) and the app creates a sequence which is never the same, just like you could expect to find at a real-life yoga class. BOOM.
  • The BACKGROUND MUSIC IS AWESOME! – not some new-age’y meowing or the sound of a spring stream winding among cherry blossoms on a loop – each practice is accompanied by an always-changing playlist featuring pleasant, relaxing, cool music which you can also turn off, if you so prefer.
  • The VOICE GUIDING YOUR PRACTICE IS HUMAN! – and very personal, warm, relaxing. It guides your breath, your body’s position, it accompanies you along the flow just like a real-life instructor would.
  • Practicing with this app MAKES ME FEEL PROGRESS and keeps me EXCITED about my next practice just like attending a real class would, which results in me actually STICKING TO IT.

So. I’m really sorry for all my friends who are yoga teachers (and my sister, who is studying to become one) if this makes you feel betrayed. If it’s of any consolation, I assure you I would exchange the app with a class in a real-life studio anytime, as I’d much rather not have to stare at all the crumbs under the dinner table during my chaturanga. But, given the circumstances, I have to acknowledge that this app made a real difference for me. It brought yoga back into my life, it gave me a sense of possibility as I can now choose to practice whenever and however works for me, and if everything goes well in a week or so I’ll switch my difficulty level from Beginner 1 to Beginner 2.

And that, my friends, is progress.

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