I think most people who have tried yoga would agree: it's a great way to improve flexibility and blood flow, increase stamina and strength, and even reduce back and muscle pain.
OK, but how can you find nearby classes, especially if you're traveling or you've just moved to a new town?
Yep: there's an app for that. Om Finder for iOS locates nearby classes, studios, and instructors wherever you happen to be in the world. It needs a few tweaks, but it's definitely a handy tool for the om-minded.
After agreeing to let the app use your location, you'll see a map with a Find Class button in the center. Tap it and Om Finder lists all the classes for the current day. You can tap left/right arrows to cycle the day, but you can't choose a specific day from a pop-up calendar.
What's more, the class list is sorted by time, from soonest to latest. That's fine, but the app definitely needs the option of sorting by distance. What's more, all distances are listed in kilometers (developer Lululemon Athletica is based in Canada); those of us living in the U.S. would welcome a toggle for miles.
The good news is that you can filter the results by class, teacher, or studio, and in fact Om Finder has tabs that let you switch between listings for those very categories. But the filter is great if you want to limit the results to, say, hot-yoga classes, or a specific instructor.
For any given class, you can tap through to get the name of the studio and teacher, the address (with a map, natch), an add-to-calendar button, and share/invite options. (You'll need to register for an account or connect to Facebook if you want profile, sharing, and friend features.)
I like that Om Finder has its own Schedule page so you can see upcoming classes you're planning to attend, without having to switch over to the Calendar app. Also, the Friends tab helps you keep track of classes any friends might be attending (and vice versa).
As with any app like this, the overall usefulness depends on the breadth of its listings. I live on the outskirts of metro Detroit, and Om Finder found a goodly selection of classes in my area. However, my local Lifetime Fitnesses and Powerhouse Gyms offer lots of yoga classes, and the app didn't show any of them. Here's hoping the search results get even more comprehensive down the road.
In the meantime, Om Finder is still a useful tool for finding yoga action in your area, especially if you're traveling. And you can't beat the price: it's free.