Bend it with AI — Yoga and Artificial Intelligence

ISB Institute of Data Science
3 min readJun 21, 2021

Renu Chaturvedi
Email:
renu_chaturvedi@isb.edu
ISB Institute of Data Science, Hyderabad, India

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

IIDS wishes all its readers a Happy International day of Yoga!

In a pre-Artificial Intelligence world, it was unheard of to use the words technology and Yoga in the same sentence. It was assumed the two have no synergistic qualities and the twain shall never meet. Fast forward to a post-AI world, and voila! To celebrate, This World Yoga Day, we delve deep to find out if there are any interfaces, and here is what we found…

Yoga is typically associated with natural things and not something one would relate to with technology. Artificial Intelligence technology has touched almost every industry including, financial services, education, healthcare, and retail. And now, AI has made its way to the fitness & wellness industry, too, including Yoga.

To make Yoga more accessible to people, Zenia, a startup founded in Belarus, used AI to help people find accurate ways to perform asanas. Zenia claims to be the world’s first virtual yoga assistance that uses machine learning and movement recognition technology to guide people through their exercises. In addition to making Yoga more accessible, it is a digital yoga coach that helps improve poses. A representative dataset of 2,00,000 images acts as training for neural network and is an essential part of the app. Zenia guides the user step by step, explaining the exact way to stand, stretch or bend for a particular pose. The voice-controlled commands also tell the user the feeling she should experience during the exercise. (https://analyticsindiamag.com/how-zenia-shapes-the-future-yoga-with-ai)

“Zenia’s core technology is based on algorithms of computer vision and neural networks. Through the front camera, the app recognizes movements of 16 major joints and within seconds gives feedback.” — Zenia founder Aleksei Kurov.

(https://www.producthunt.com/newsletter/3666-ai-apps-are-disrupting-yoga)

MixPose, a San Francisco-based Yoga posture-recognizing application, aims to improve yoga poses for the user with help from AI. Yoga instructors broadcast live-streaming videos with a skeletal line for students to understand the angles of poses better. This assistance helps the practitioner to deepen the poses for maximum impact. The technology thus enables more hands-on teaching. (https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2020/03/12/yoga-app-among-10-winners-of-hackster-io-jetson-competition/)

Yet another AI-powered personal yoga instructor is Sofia. It is integrated with a voice assistant for giving instructions to improve the poses of the practioner. It uses Computer Vision and Deep Learning models to guide through the asanas and awards stars depending on the accuracy of the pose completed by the practioner. (https://github.com/sbis04/yoga-instructor)

Wellnesys, an Indian Startup, is seeking to revolutionize Yoga globally using AI, ML & IoT. YogiFi Mat — promises to be the future of At-home yoga. This smart mat is equipped with an innovative built-in sensor that tracks all the yoga postures and offers corrections in real-time. All this is done without using a camera. The mat also can calculate the strength, flexibility, and balance of the user. The interactive & intelligent mat offers personalized service to the user. The AI platform on the Cloud collects data from the mat & the wearables, collates, and provides the user suggestions of poses that have worked well for her. (https://analyticsindiamag.com/meet-wellnesys-the-indian-startup-which-has-revolutionised-yoga-using-ai-ml-iot/)

With AI powering both hardware and software to help users improve their yoga poses, the users can benefit through improved health. In recent times, the lockdowns have forced people to stay at home. In such times online classes and yoga apps have been a blessing. These apps have the potential of providing a superior experience to a physical yoga studio where typically, there are several students in a class taught by one instructor. Apps provide a customized digital coach with 100% focus on the practitioner. AI offers the added benefit of making content available in multiple languages and accents. In the future, the more well-developed AI-enabled interactive apps will ensure higher patronage of the same.

The sophistication of the apps will help improve both the user experience and engagement that will ultimately result in better physical and mental health. Both Yoga and AI are here to stay. The combination of the two offers an unbeatable experience that is sure to spread worldwide.

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ISB Institute of Data Science

ISB Institute of Data Science (IIDS) brings together data science enthusiast to drive research into AI and Data Science