Desk yoga is a wonderful way to release tension at work, which can lead to better mental and physical health for workers, as well as greater productivity. If you want to establish a yoga routine you can do at your desk, an app for your phone makes perfect sense. Although there are quite a few office yoga apps available, only a few stand out for their ease of use, quality of instruction, and adaptability to a real office setting. While we've gotten used to getting apps for free, unsurprisingly the best ones come at a price. You'll find them well worth it.
1 Salute the Desk
Salute the Desk App
Photo Courtesy of Salute the Desk
Australian yoga teacher Fiona Patterson's app Salute the Desk stands head and shoulders above the competition. The graphics are clean, modern, and intuitive. The narration and the video illustration match up seamlessly. You can move through a series of 11 poses that stretch the whole body or choose shorter sequences that focus on particular areas of tightness. You can also pick out just the stretches you want and save them as your favorites. Additional features allow you to set alarms to remind you to stop and stretch throughout the day and track your progress. This app really offers all you could want in a guide to doing yoga at your desk.
2 Self Centre Desk Yoga
This series of videos comes from Carole Baker of The Self Centre in Suffolk, UK. Baker's gentle, soothing voice and capable demonstration distinguish this series of 11 videos. Her explanations of the reasons that make each stretch particularly appropriate for office workers and her use of the desk and chair as props is also notable. That said, this really is just a series of videos, lasting 2-6 minutes each. It doesn't take advantage of any other app capabilities. If you find a few of the videos suit your needs and you're prepared to forgo other technological bells and whistles, however, you can get a lot of value here.
3 Office Yoga MD
Office Yoga MD, from Iyengar yoga teacher and M.D Mary P. Schatz, features more than 20 poses and relaxation techniques. The accompanying illustrations are essentially still images with a few animations to show movements in association with the narration. The app is also a little buggy.
4 Yoga for Office Professionals (The Zen Guy)
The Zen Guy is Michael Huffman, a yoga teacher and "corporate cube dweller." Huffman's goal of bringing moments of calm into the workplace is admirable, but his app is a little clunky. Each of the 20 seated and 10 standing poses includes small still photographs, written instructions, and audio narration. Some of the poses also have tiny videos, but these lack audio accompaniment. There is an option to set a reminder, which is a nice feature. There is also a free version of this app. Since it has just two poses, its only real use is to give you a taste of the style of the app to see if you want to spring for the full version.
5 Desk Yoga (Kat Mills)
A cute premise (covert desk yoga) with bare bones instruction. There is no audio, but the photos are pretty good. It's a little amateur compared to other apps.
6 Office Yoga
This app is adapted from a 2000 book of the same title by Darrin Zeer. It takes the format of a deck of cards that you can flip through. Each card has an illustration on one side and written instructions on the other. There is no voice-over narration. The illustrations are retro kitschy but don't do much to instruct the poses. There are also many cards that offer things beyond office yoga, like smoothie recipes and how to take a bath. There is an option to sort the cards, however, so if you found a few you liked, you could bring them to the top of the deck.
7 Office Yoga (Webdunia)
There are lots of options here for different stretches, but the illustrations and instructions are completely inadequate.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with these desk yoga apps. I did try several other free apps, but I found them hampered by poor quality, distracting advertising, and even the requirement that you log-in through Facebook or Twitter, which I just don't do. Don't waste your time when for just a few dollars you can get a really good app experience that will allow you to introduce some much-needed relaxation to your work day.