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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Back from US, Bengaluru woman brings AR Yoga instructor to your iPhones

The idea to develop Prayoga came from Rao and her husband’s personal experience of using Yoga apps.

Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi |
Updated: March 9, 2021 8:13:01 am
Prayoga app, Prayoga Yoga app, Prayoga app iPhone, Raksha Rao app developer, international womens day 2021, Apple iPhoneWith the help of ARKit and body tracking, Rao’s team thought of bringing an instructor right inside your living room as a 3D render.

For the past 20 years, Raksha Rao, 33, has been learning and practising Carnatic vocals and even ran a music school in the US with 50 students. But this mother from Bengaluru now runs Parjanya Creative Solutions, the company behind Prayoga, an app that uses augmented reality (AR) and body tracking technology to help users learn Yoga.

The idea to develop Prayoga came from Rao and her husband’s personal experience of using Yoga apps. “When you go to a trainer or a gym, what they try to do is, they’ll give you a set of exercises and you will have to perform in front of them. They come and correct you if the form is wrong. That part was really lacking in terms of all these apps,” Rao tells Indianexpress.com.

Rao was clear from the beginning that the Prayoga app would give some form of feedback, mimicking how an instructor corrects people as if they are attending an in-person session in a Yoga studio. The solution to the problem was augmented reality, a technology that can superimpose a computer-generated image on top of your view of the real world. With the help of ARKit and body tracking, Rao’s team thought of bringing an instructor right inside your living room as a 3D render. All you need is your iPhone and you can learn Yoga asanas and correct them as you perform. The app also offers well-produced instruction videos.

Prayoga app, Prayoga Yoga app, Prayoga app iPhone, Raksha Rao app developer, international womens day 2021, Apple iPhone Rao has been the force behind Prayoga, an app that uses augmented reality (AR) and body tracking technology to help users learn Yoga. (Image credit: Raksha Rao)

“We wanted to combine our passion areas with technology, and try to come up with an innovative product in this,” she says, adding that her husband’s expertise in AR and VR helped — he used to work at a Hollywood Studio in Los Angeles.

Rao, an MBA in Information Science from California State University and an engineer who moved back to India in 2019 with her husband, says the development of the app has been done entirely in-house. She and her husband primarily work on the development part along with product strategy. Currently, Rao’s team has 10 people, a mix of full-time employees and interns, and most of them women.

It’s been almost a year since the Prayoga app hit the App Store, and Rao and her team are already working on the second version. “Our aim for this app was to make Yoga a lifestyle, and not a fitness fad or anything,” she says. The existing version of Prayoga has been well received, getting over 100,000 impressions on the App Store when the app originally debuted in June last year.

Prayoga app, Prayoga Yoga app, Prayoga app iPhone, Raksha Rao app developer, international womens day 2021, Apple iPhone Rao has been learning Carnatic music, the Indian classical music style for the past 20 years. (Image credit: Raksha Rao)

Based on the feedback the app has received, the second version will include as many as 75 asanas, created by Yoga experts. The app also features a customisable option where you can choose a specific time and perform Yoga asanas as per your needs. There is also a new option to mirror the app on your TV and see the instructor performing the action on the big screen.

But Rao isn’t done yet. Being someone learning and practising Carnatic classical vocal music for years, she wants to bring this old art form to the masses using immersive technologies like AR and VR. “We are trying to bring a product that helps us do that,” says Rao, who is about to complete her masters in Carnatic music from Jain University.

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