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Take a Breather: Apps to Help You Find Your Zen

LIFESTYLE

When was the last time you took a deep breath? A really deep, deep breath where you count to 8 on the exhale. If you can’t remember, that’s okay (and you’re certainly not alone). When life is speeding in the fast lane, it’s easy to let your mental health take a backseat. But it’s important to take care of your mind and body every single day, even the busiest, most stressful ones.

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to integrate mindfulness into your everyday routine. There are mobile apps for every type of zen activity, and some even bring yoga and meditation studios to the palm of your hand. Here, we rounded up 8 of our absolute favorites. Want to practice daily meditation? Do a bit of yoga from your bed? Either way, there’s an app that’s perfect for you. Take a deep breath, and start downloading.

10% Happier

What it is: A clear and complete introduction to meditation, featuring some of the world’s top mindfulness experts.

What you get: Personalized courses fit for your needs, with the addition of single sessions and non-meditation mindfulness talks that you can listen to on the go. The app features notable teachers from around the world, so you know you’re getting the best meditation education.

What it costs: The basics are always free, including a full introductory course and daily reminders. For $99 a year, you’ll get access to even more meditations and personal coaching, and can listen offline.

Why we love it: Perfect for meditation novices, the app doesn’t assume you already know how to meditate; it was founded by a former meditation skeptic — a news anchor who started his practice after having a panic attack on live TV. The approach to meditation is therefore simple and easy to understand. Plus, we love that even if you’re not in the best place to meditate, you can get a mindfulness boost from the talks by experts on subjects like managing difficult emotions or relationships.

Download here

Insight Timer

What it is: A no-fuss meditation app offering individual sessions across all topics and in any time increment.

What you get: Access to a library of 30,000+ meditation sessions. You can browse by length of time, teacher or subject.

What it costs: Free for regular access. For $59.99, the memberPlus option unlocks 200 insight courses for deep dives on topics like sleep, workplace challenges and managing stress.

Why we love it: The app’s huge meditation library means that you’ll never have to listen to the same meditation twice. There are teachers from all over the world, and you have the option to follow the ones you like best to keep tabs on their most recent uploads. We also love that they give a portion of the memberPlus fees back to the teachers.

Download here

Oak

What it is: A minimalist meditation, breathing and sleeping app.

What you get: A tailored collection of guided meditation, breathing and sleep sessions. You’re in control of the duration, the gender of the instructor, background noise and whether you want a warmup beforehand. There’s also unguided meditation for those who just want a timer, chimes and background noise for their own practice.

What it costs: Free for regular access, or $5.99 for their 10 Days of Mantra Meditation workshop.

Why we love it: The minimalist approach to meditation and breathing exercises means there’s no pressure to build a big routine. You can just pick up wherever and whenever you want. We love that the breathing exercises show a visual representation of when to breathe. For the meditation and sleep sessions, you can choose soothing background noises, like rain or a crackling fireplace.

Download here

Smiling Mind

What it is: A unique tool providing meditation basics for people of all ages — including kids — as well as classrooms and workplaces.

What you get: Programs for adults, kids, families, classrooms and workplaces. The programs offer meditation to improve sleep, relationships, study skills and general mindfulness. You just tell them how old you are, what you’re trying to improve with your meditation sessions and the app will choose the best programs for you.

What it costs: Free

Why we love it: Whereas some meditation apps only offer sessions for adults, this app is perfect for families and parents who are trying to integrate more mindfulness into their kids’ everyday routines. The app is integrated with Google Home so you can simply ask your device to play a meditation. What’s more, each program is broken down into bite-size segments — so even if you only have 10 minutes, you can easily squeeze in some chill time.

Download here

Zen Koi

What it is: A meditative game where you can grow, breed and collect koi fish.

What you get: A single-player game where you use your finger to direct your koi fish around a pond, to eat and grow. As you grow, you can expand your pond and unlock new koi fish. Your ultimate goal is to follow the ancient Japanese legend of morphing your fish into a dragon.

What it costs: Free

Why we love it: Some mobile games can wind people up or make them think way too hard. This game is the complete opposite. The koi fish move swiftly around the pond in a way that’s ultra-calming — perfect for bedtime, a bus ride home or stressful days.

Download here

Colorfy

What it is: A mobile coloring book that lets you choose from 1,000+ tap-to-color pictures.

What you get: Over 1,000 pictures you can paint on your phone, including mandalas, florals, famous paints and animals. You can also draw your own mandalas to color or upload your own images and turn them into black and white coloring pages.

What it costs: Free for regular access, or $9.99/week for Color Premium, which unlocks all features, including new pictures and no ads.

Why we love it: You get the calming benefits of a real coloring book, without the hassle of buying supplies. The “Get Inspired” tab shows completed artwork from the community, and you can follow your favorites to recreate later.

Download here

Down Dog

What it is: An at-home yoga app where you’ll never get the same class twice.

What you get: Over 60,000 different configurations, so you can customize your routine. You can customize your daily practice according to your skill level, the length of the session, the length of the savasana, the voice of your instructor and the addition of focused stretches.

What it costs: $7.99 per month or $49.99 per year

Why we love it: Unlike pre-recorded yoga routines on YouTube, this app ensures that you never have to do the same yoga routine twice. You can tailor your practice to your mood and your body’s needs with just a few taps. You can also download your routines to your phone so you can practice in situations where you might not have Wi-Fi, like in the park or on a beach.

Download here

Yoga Wake Up

What it is: An alarm clock-yoga hybrid app that wakes you up with 10-minute yoga sessions you can do from bed.

What you get: The ability to set an alarm the night before your practice. When the alarm goes off, it’ll wake you up gently with a practice that features words of affirmation, guided stretches and uplifting music. Each practice is around 10 minutes, so it doesn’t take too much time out of your morning routine.

What it costs: $9.99 per month, $34.99 for 6 months or $53.99 per year

Why we love it: They had us at “yoga in bed.” The app is the perfect solution for those of us who want to start our mornings with meditative movement, but find it difficult to wake up and get going. The yoga sequences are ultra-gentle and wake the body up in a slow-yet-energizing way. The app also has a community tab where you can learn more about the teachers from your sessions.

Download here