Yoogaia – my top three picks

So after extensively trialling the amazing Yoogaia website over the past week, I’ve learnt an awful lot about the different types of guided yoga sessions available. If you’re a beginner it can be tricky to choose, so here are my top three picks!

1. Yin

When I visited Yoogaia HQ in Helsinki*, studio manager Katja told me that yin was the most popular form of yoga practiced in Finland – and I can understand why. This is a really mindful and slow paced yoga, with poses being held for three to five minutes each. The aim is to open up the body and sessions often focus on particular areas. Through Yoogaia I learnt that many yogis believe the hips are the key to unlocking pent up emotions – apparently people can even unexpectedly burst into tears or laughter when doing poses that target the hips. I haven’t had this experience myself, but I have felt amazingly calm and content after every session.

Instructor Heidi Poon reminds us that patience is love, and yin yoga creates a moment for you to love and appreciate the incredible machine that is your body. Many of those who practice yoga see it as a way of taking care of yourself before you can take care of others, and this practice helps you become aware of any areas of your body which are tight or ache or need to be looked after a little better. The required physical stillness leads to a mental stillness which enables you to focus on all the things you have to be thankful for, starting at the most basic level with the physical body that allows you to experience life, and this unity of mind and body in the moment is what yoga is all about for me personally.

2. Glute Max

At the other end of the spectrum is Glute Max with Linda Torbet. Anyone who has ever asked me about my gym routine knows I’m all about booty exercises – I cannot get me enough deadlifts and hip raises – so I was bound to love this class! And it wasn’t just a gentle workout, oh no. My glutes were genuinely aching by the end so I knew it was doing me good. Some of the exercises felt a bit silly so it’s really nice to be able to do this one from the privacy of your own home rather than in a crowded yoga studio, but then again if you like training glues you’re probably used to doing exercises which look / feel weird…

Also worth a mention here is Michael Musch’s Abs Express – another genuinely tough workout which is more ‘turbo charged’ and less ‘chill out’. Eat right and do that on the daily and your six pack will soon be making an appearance!

3. Morning Flow

Somewhere in between these two is Morning Flow, a vinyasa session designed to energise. Vinyasa is a faster paced practice so it warms the body and gives you a chance to move and stretch – particularly good if you’re facing a long day that will likely be spent sat at your desk. The practice closely links your breath to the movements, which is both invigorating and grounding.

Yogis often talk about setting an intention for your day, and allowing yourself a half hour of vinyasa when you wake up gives you the opportunity to cement a good feeling that you can draw on long afterwards. I’ve done yoga every morning this week and whenever I’ve felt stressed I’ve reminded myself of the promise I made myself to have a positive day. You might well be feeling cynical reading this, but try it – it works!

Do you practice yoga regularly? What kind? I’d love to know, as I’m sure there are types I haven’t discovered yet!

*This was an all expenses paid trip courtesy of the lovely people at Yoogaia.

Behind the scenes at Yoogaia HQ

I’m writing this post from my hotel in Helsinki. Okay to be more specific I am writing it from the bar in my hotel in Helsinki…! I’ve been invited here by Yoogaia*, to help them let yoga fans around the world know about a really easy way to keep up their practice while they are holidaying or travelling abroad.

The main point of the trip is to use Yoogaia to practice yoga in my hotel room and write about the experience, but as the business’ HQ is in Helsinki I was keen to take a look around while I’m here. I learnt lots whilst chatting to Katja, who is a Yoogaia instructor and manages the Helsinki studio, so I wanted to share some of that with you!

For those of you that don’t know, Yoogaia is an online platform that you can log on to anywhere and at any time to follow a recorded yoga class or join a live one. The unique thing about Yoogaia is that it uses two-way visuals, so as well as being able to watch the yoga instructor live from your own home (or hotel room), you have the option to allow them to view you as you practice – so that they can give advice, correct posture or make recommendations about how best to tailor the session to your individual needs. 

The business launched 18 months ago right here in Helsinki, but has since opened up two new studios in London and Hong Kong. Classes aren’t actually held at the studios, but having more locations where instructors can film from means that Yoogaia can offer classes in more languages and to suit more time zones. Growing at a pretty impressive pace, the business already has its eye on other markets too, keen to capitalise on its USP before the idea catches on and competitors start popping up across the globe – which they inevitably will do with a concept this good.

One of Yoogaia’s other selling points is that the team take their yoga pretty seriously, with scores of different types of session available covering everything from mindful yoga and chakra meditation to, you guessed it, Broga! Katja tells me that yin yoga is the most popular here in Finland. Yin is a slow-paced practice – poses can be held for up to five minutes with the aim of increasing circulation and flexibility. It’s definitely one I’m keen to try and I’ll be checking in for a session this weekend.

In addition, all of the instructors, no matter where they’re based, are carefully recruited and put through their paces before being offered a place on the team. This is really important for maintaining a high quality across the board and ensures that, if you fancy trying something different from your usual practice, you won’t be disappointed by your new instructor.

While I’m here I’m going to be joining as many different classes as I can fit in around being a very excited tourist in a new city. If you want to join me, why not sign up for the one week free trial? If you’re not yet convinced, check out Yoogaia’s stunning Instagram feed which is full of yogis practising against beautiful backdrops of green meadows and peaceful lakes. If that doesn’t get you feeling inspired, I don’t know what will!

*This was an all expenses paid trip courtesy of the lovely people at Yoogaia.