gaiam TV: yoga/inspirational online television for the rest of us

Recently viewed selections from my Gaiam TV playlist!

When Gaiam contacted me about their new website streaming fitness and inspirational videos, I was most excited about the documentaries and movies. However, once I received my password and started to explore Gaiam TV‘s extensive video library (over 2,000 titles, with more being added every day), I ended up spending a lot of time in both the Yoga Studio and Fitness Studio. Yes, actually working out!

Gaiam has built their brand on quality yoga and fitness videos/products, and their new website allows access to their entire library (for only $9.95/month). With the addition of broadcasts, feature films, documentaries and special interest programming, Gaiam TV is a new addition to the online yoga/fitness market (which at the moment is dominated by sites such as YogaGlo and YogaDownload). Their long-standing brand, the quality of their teachers, and multidisciplinary programming sets them apart from their competitors.

Using an interface obviously modeled on NetFlix, you can easily search for videos, make a playlist and preview choices. Once you’ve watched the videos, you can rate them and share them on social networking sites so the whole world will know you just did an amazing abs workout or yoga class or whatever.

The Yoga Studio features classes with Rodney Yee, Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Amy Ippoliti, and many more. I had fun trying classes with teachers like Jill Miller and Rod Stryker, whom I’ve heard lots about but have never had the opportunity to take workshops or classes with. The Fitness Studio includes classes with industry leaders such as Jillian Michaels, Mari Winsor and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (okay, not sure if he counts as a fitness industry leader, but his “killer arms” workout was seriously killer). There were also some delightfully bizarre finds, like the “Astrology Workouts” (that’s right ~ a fitness program based on your sun sign and endomorph/ectomorph/mesomorph body types). Workouts from the 80s and 90s have been cleverly repackaged as “Vintage.”

The yoga and fitness “studios” are very well-organized and user-friendly. You can narrow down your options based on level, style, instructor and amount of time available. This is definitely one of Gaiam TV’s strengths. I found the Films & TV programming, along with the Spirituality, Metaphysics and Environment options, to be rather weak. The selections were thin and a little dated. There were some videos with big name spiritual luminaries like Deepak Chopra and Byron Katie, and a lot of New Agey documentaries. Some of them seemed to have been produced by Gaiam, and others are things that they somehow got the rights for. I watched and enjoyed The Real Dirt on Farmer John, which was wonderful, and documentaries on Donna Karan and Tenzin Palmo (a Western woman who lived in a cave the Himalayan mountains for 12 years). I tried to watch The Titans of Yoga, but it wasn’t available in my region.

The best thing about Gaiam TV is that it’s like having a yoga/fitness studio in the comfort of your own home – and when you need to take a rest between workouts, you can watch a little enlightening television.