The concept of yoga is an ancient discipline, though, within the last century, it has evolved to become one of the most popular forms of exercise in the United States. Although there are several styles of modern yoga, some more spiritual than others, most, if not all, emphasize focusing on the here and now while disconnecting from distractions such as smartphones during practice. However, as yoga catches the attention of newcomers beyond its core demographic, technology is emerging to suit the lifestyles and needs of every yogi.
Jolene Cherry, a yoga instructor, based in Portland, respects the heritage of yoga but also acknowledges that it must flow and listen to the call of the times. She believes that technology can harmoniously intersect with yoga and even elevate it in certain circumstances.
In this article, Jolene Cherry reviews several exciting technological trends sweeping the yoga industry today.
Video Game Tech
Game manufacturers have been intrigued by merging gameplay with fitness since Nintendo’s Power Pad for the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) since the 1980s. The Japanese company delivered a more sophisticated solution in the 2000s with the Wii Fit. Consumers could even purchase the Wii Fit Yoga Mat.
Microsoft developed Kinect for the Xbox 360, a v2 sensor and software development kit, designed to respond to human movement, gestures, and voice commands. With games such as “Your Shape Fitness Evolved,” gamers can take a yoga class and receive “real-time” feedback on poses.
While videogame designers have yet to perfect interactive exercise via game consoles, the ingenuity of engineers and rising demand to workout from home will undoubtedly prove bright for this emerging demographic.
Smart Yoga Gear
Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2015, SmarMat promotes itself as the world’s first intelligent yoga mat. Its responsive sensors are calibrated to measure weight distribution in the feet as well as the user’s height and syncs to an app for a smartphone or tablet. Together, the user is guided through a yoga session aided by audio and visual indicators.
SoulCycle reimagined indoor cycling workout classes, and its vibrant energy has rubbed off on the entire exercise community. Part of SoulCycle’s appeal is how immersive the experience is. Although yoga isn’t infused with adrenaline by nature, several studios are using tech to create a sense of escapism and relaxation. Envision colossal 4K HDR (high dynamic range) TVs projecting cinematic visuals such as mountain ranges, oceans, and forests coupled with curated playlists. Science already suggests that nature or even viewing scenes of nature can evoke tranquility and reduce stress. Therefore it makes sense that mimicking natural environments in a yoga studio can create a spiritual experience.
Breath is at the center of yoga. Mindful inhales and exhales aligned with physical movement is essential to a bountiful practice. If your breathing is consistently out of balance, it can affect your overall well-being. That’s where iBreve, wearable tech that tracks and analyzes breathing patterns, enters the picture. iBreve is equipped with smart feedback that interprets your data and informs you of rising stress levels.
Yoga practitioners traditionally attend a yoga studio guided by an instructor, but that may not be the norm in a few years. Companies all around the world are developing streaming platforms to deliver yoga as video-on-demand or via live broadcasting. For example, Movement for Modern Life, already hosts more than 800 yoga, meditation and mindfulness videos on its platform. With a vast library of that size, yogis of all backgrounds are sure to discover digital classes to their liking.
About Jolene Cherry: Jolene Cherry is a certified and experienced yoga instructor and personal trainer based in Portland, Oregon. She has always been interested in fitness, meditation, and nutrition and decided to help others reach their desired levels of physical fitness. Her international training and experience, ranging from Hawaii to Thailand, along with her nurturing one-on-one sessions have helped propel her to a prominent personal trainer and yoga instructor in the Pacific Northwest. She excels in a variety of yoga styles, especially Vinyasa Yoga, traditional Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga, as well as meditation-oriented Yin Yoga.