Nowadays we can get virtually anything delivered, whether it's dinner, a masseuse, a glam squad, Botox or even a handyman. The newest lifestyle arena being tackled by an Uber-like startup? Yoga.
Easypose is the brainchild of Ruben Dua, who last winter launched a website and app making it incredibly simple to order an on-demand yoga instructor to your home or office for a one-hour session. (So far it's available in Southern and Northern California and the New York tri-state area.) Naturally we had to try it for ourselves.
As experienced practitioners of yoga, we were happy to see the range of styles available to us after quickly creating an account through Facebook. The website allows users to enter their ZIP code and find nearby instructors along with their self-written bios describing their approach to the practice, their certifications and specialties (i.e. vinyasa, hatha, beginner, children's, Bikram, Kundalini). There were at least a dozen options within a 30-minute drive of our Mid City L.A. ZIP code (depending on traffic, of course; the network apparently has thousands of teachers already), and all had five gold stars under their names. How could we go wrong? (Actual client-written reviews of the instructors are a new feature being integrated into the site currently, so in the future users can choose based on user experiences instead of just star ratings.)
We picked an instructor who is pictured in her photo in an impressive camel pose, and who promised her extensive dance background and creativity made for fun, meditative, flowy classes. We then paid the $80 fee for a single session for one to three people and moved onto the nitty gritty. Drop-down options require the user to choose a level (beginner through advanced), intensity (we chose moderate), goals (think flexibility and mobility, or healing) and type in any special needs. We requested a date and time, and were off to the chaturangas.
Easypose was created in part to encourage yoga newbies. According to a study by Yoga Journal/Yoga Alliance, 98 percent of yoga practitioners are beginners, and the Easypose team believes people need private instruction as a supplement to classes to get the true benefits of the practice. Says Dua, "Another interesting stat from the study is that of the 80 million people who tried yoga for the first time, only 6 percent continued on. We believe this is a result of most people not being satisfied with the current yoga experience - overcrowded studios, social discomfort, fish-out-of-water syndrome, inconvenience."
L.A. is certainly not lacking in yoga studios - they're almost as ubiquitous as green juiceries. But the other points are valid. For beginners, especially, the idea of stepping into a studio where others already know what they're doing could be a turnoff. This startup seems best suited for those types, but may not be a fit for yogis with a regular practice, unless convenience is a serious struggle.
The instructor we tried arrived sans yoga mat - luckily we had our own - or props (fortunately we didn't need blocks or straps) and without much of an introduction, asked us to lie down. Wanting to know a little more, we asked about her experience. She'd been teaching clients of Easypose for about a month, she said, and specializes in tantra yoga, which was not listed on her bio. Hmm.
We were outside on a grassy lawn on a sunny 68 degree afternoon, and the environment was perfect for a fun, flowy vinyasa yoga session. That wasn't quite what we got, however. The gentle sounds of the breeze in the trees drowned out her whisper of a voice. She didn't inspire confidence when she was unable to demonstrate a complicated pose we were supposed to somehow just figure out. And the sequencing was slow, uncertain and rather redundant - not the dynamic challenge we'd imagined after selecting "strength & stability" and "flexibility & mobility" as our goals. We did some stretches and sun salutations, down dogs, warrior twos and chaturangas before abruptly moving into the challenging birds of paradise pose. There were a few gentle adjustments here and there, but overall she was hands-off.
Of course, this may not be the typical Easypose experience, because every instructor is different. But a large part of committing to a yoga practice is finding the right match with your instructor. With this service you may get lucky, or you may go through several dates before you find someone who speaks your language. It seems that's the part that's not so easy.