I have accidentally (not entirely) taken an entire week off from strength training. I finished up Chalean Extreme and then things came roaring to a halt. I’m really bad for that – if I don’t have a program, I spend too much time thinking of things to do and not enough time actually doing them. I still cycled to work and did quite a bit of walking, but I’m disappointed in myself for not planning what I’d be doing when Chalean Extreme finished.
Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, and considering I’m off on holiday today, I am definitely looking to the future!
Yesterday I decided to do the Lean Arms Pyramid workout from the Tone It Up girls. I had seen this graphic floating around for the last few weeks and kept meaning to try it (see what I mean about too much planning and not enough doing this week?). I’ll be baring my arms, shoulders, and back over the next week and that was inspiration enough for me today.
I only did this pyramid through once, and I did the bicep curls with 10lb dumbbells. I had to stop a couple of times but I could definitely feel it in my arms when I was finished.
Then I tried out a new free yoga app that I downloaded called Black and White Vinyasa. I didn’t realize this prior to having a Google, but you can actually watch the whole 15 minute class on youtube (which is the only one that you can download for free) without downloading anything. If you like the class, it is very convenient to be able to download this app and take it with you on your phone.
On the website (and youtube video) it says the app is recommended for people that have taken at least 20 vinyasa classes. Vinyasa is a dynamic form of yoga and involves moving quite quickly – flowing – between poses. This kind of yoga is more about physical fitness and getting the heart-rate up than my usual classes, and it was definitely a workout!
Since I don’t have the recommended experience this app requires, I did find it a bit fast. I think, though, that if you are familiar with Vinyasa yoga this would be a good app for you. The fifteen minute class is great if you don’t have much time and I was surprised how warm I was almost right away.
This app jumps rights into the practice, so if you wished to include a warm up or some breath awareness or meditation first, you would have to do that separately. It would be great to add to your regular exercise program for a bit of a stretch following some strength training, which is exactly how I used it.
I also liked the fact that there were some some ab exercises before savasana. Yoga often works your core without actually focusing on it, but it was nice to have bicycle-crunch-style ab exercises included in the practice.
There were two things I didn’t like about this app. It’s all fine and good to critique an app you’ve paid for, but this is a free app, so honestly I am always pleased with those I download for free. These two things would not stop me from using this app and doing this 15 minute class again.
First, I found the saturated black and white style a bit difficult because I couldn’t always see where the instructor’s hands were, especially when watching the video on my phone and trying to follow along. In triangle pose, for example, the woman has her hand behind her leg on the mat. I couldn’t tell whether it was in front or behind, and though I am familiar with the pose, in my class we put our hands inside, rather than outside, the front leg. If you are very familiar with vinyasa yoga this will not be detrimental to your practice, but I wasn’t too keen on the black and white video because it sometimes made visibility difficult.
You can see where her arm is here, but I struggled when I was trying to follow the practice.
Second, during savasana at the end, it was obvious that this was filmed at a public beach. I kept hearing kids shouting and other noises that sounded like they were coming from a nearby playground. This wasn’t noticeable during the practice, but at relaxation time when you are trying to clear your mind, I found it a bit hard not to concentrate on the noises. There’s also the sound of the waves rolling in, which is beautiful. I just wish the wave sound was a bit louder. I think this could possibly be fixed with a wave soundtrack added in or made louder during post-production.
Instead of upgrading the whole app, you can purchase the 30 minute or 50 minute vinyasa class for a set price. In the UK, this is £1.99 and £2.49, respectively.
Overall, I liked the Black and White Vinyasa app. As I mentioned above, it was a bit fast for me, but it’s always difficult the first time you try to follow an unfamiliar routine. I did feel like I was really working out, and I warmed up very quickly. Sometimes it takes a while when I am doing a more hatha-style practice, so I definitely appreciated this since it was part of my workout today, and not part of my cool down.
I don’t like spending a lot of money on apps without trying them, so I really appreciate that Kathleen Holm and her app posse let you try one class before committing to paying for others. I especially like the fact – now that I know about it – that the video is available to watch on youtube, but you could download the app and take it with you if you enjoyed the practice.
The producers’ aim is to get 400 million people doing yoga by the year 2020. I think this is definitely possible by providing free apps for at-home yogis to practice on their own schedule! Myyogaminute.com, the company behind Black and White Vinyasa, offers quite a few free apps, so I am looking forward to giving them a test drive (test practice?) in the future.
What’s your favourite app? Do you use your smart phone for your at-home practice?