Ease of Use
- OK for beginners
- Good introduction into yoga, meditation and it's overall health benefits
- Lots of reading materials & charts
We didn't like
- Doesn't offer much for experienced yogis
- Not much variety and mostly low intensity classes
- Some videos have low sound and video quality (mostly in the bonus section)
Summary: Shapeshifter Yoga is a program designed to help new yogis develop a consistent yoga practice that might ultimately also help them lose weight, build muscle, and feel good about their body inside and out.
This program is designed to be a starting point! It alone will not guarantee weight loss or toning but it might set you on the right path.
Do you want to loose weight?
And do you think about yoga as a great practice to loose weight?
Then you might miss out big time!
When I talk about my yoga practice, I always get the same reaction: “Yeah, I should stretch more”.
It makes me sad to hear this because yoga is such an incredible tool to tone your body, get stronger, and build muscle. I feel like weight loss is a secret side effect of yoga that nobody knows about! It's certainly time to get the word out!
While yoga does encompass a lot of stretching that results in flexibility, the strength and cardio components definitely aid in creating a leaner, more slender physique regardless of your starting point.
Do you enjoy tucking yourself under a down comforter during the winter months as much as I do? This time of year always seems to slow me down, and inactivity really adds to the winter doldrums and weight gain.
Instead of forcing myself to spend extra time on the elliptical at the gym this year, I tried something a bit different this year: Shapeshifter Yoga. It’s an online program designed to get started with a regular yoga practice and help you lose weight.
Shapeshifter Yoga involves two full-length classes as well as a bunch of short bonus classes, reading materials, and short video tutorials. If you’ve been eyeing the program but aren’t ready to pull the trigger, give my Shapeshifter Yoga review a quick run through and hopefully I can help you decide!
The Science Behind Yoga and Weightloss
Here are a few facts to get you thinking about using yoga as a tool for weight loss:
- People who regularly perform yoga have significantly lower levels of cortisol, the stress-produced hormone that is blamed for abdominal fat.
- Yoga increases insulin sensitivity, making your body burn food as fuel instead of storing it and turning it into fat.
- Taking regular vinyasa classes gives you the benefit of cardiovascular exercise and muscle strengthening, resulting in both fat loss and muscle building.
- If you’re a dedicated cardio junkie, adding yoga to your routine will help build muscles and decrease the stress on your joints.
- Even if you only take restorative or yin classes, the practice of yoga cultivates enough awareness that you’ll end up eating better and making healthier life choices.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Shapeshifter Program
This program is designed to get people into yoga and start the process of losing weight. If you’ve never done yoga before, this is a good starting point for you. There are enough short tutorial videos that slowly break down core yoga poses without overwhelming you.
These videos familiarize you with essential poses and their proper alignment to prevent injury and advance your practice as quickly as possible. The more quickly you learn the poses, the faster you'll start seeing the physical benefits of yoga, including weight loss.
The “peak” flow linking all of the video tutorials is challenging but not difficult, so no matter how little yoga you’ve done, the final practice is accessible once you’ve gone through the entire program.
Because this is a program for beginners, I don’t recommend buying this if you’re an intermediate or advanced yoga student. If you want to learn about alignment, then this is full of useful information, but the tutorials are slow moving. This is something to consider if you're taking challenging flow classes or you have some familiarity with yoga.
What is Shapeshifter Yoga?
When you pull up Shapeshifter’s sales page, you’re immediately bombarded with words and phrases like “sexy”, “toned abs”, “firm butt”, and “skinny jeans”. Clearly, Shapeshifter Yoga is intended as a weight loss program and not as a complete mind, body, and heart yoga practice.
As I scrolled through the (very long) page of information, I got confused. Was I reading about a yoga program or a diet infomercial? This was a pretty big turn-off for me, and I can see how it would send a lot of potential customers away with such a heavy sales pitch.
I much prefer informing people about the overall benefits of yoga--including weight loss--before I pitch it as a great workout, but that differs for everyone. Yoga is so much more than what Shapeshifter is offering, but weight loss is an inevitable side effect of a regular practice.
According to the page, when you purchase the program, you get:
- A quick start manual
- A yoga pose video library
- The full-length Shapeshifter Yoga program video
- The Everyday Flow follow-along video
- A yoga pose manual
- “At a Glance” wall charts
Once I got into the actual program, the information packed on the sales page began to make a little more sense. After I spent some quality time with the program, I weighed what I liked most about it and what I disliked.
- easy to follow, meaning it’s great for beginners
- the final flow linking all of the poses together is accessible for yogis of all sizes and ages
- lots of reading materials/charts are great for visual learners
- the program doesn’t offer much to experienced students unless you’re interested in tons of alignment information
- there are only two “real” classes. If you’re looking for variety, this isn’t the program for you
- the videos aren’t that well-produced. Some of the bonus materials have videos that look like they were filmed in the 1990s and only recently uploaded.
Shapeshifter Yoga Features
Now let's break down the various aspects of the program:
The program materials are fairly comprehensive which is why I think this program is best suited for beginners. I’ve been practicing yoga for a little over two years, so everything included in these materials were things I’ve learned from yoga class, my home practice, or books/blogs I’ve read over the years.
Quick Start Manual
The Quick Start Manual gives a better breakdown of the entire program. The overall premise of Shapeshifter Yoga is to help people lose weight. The creator, Kristine Fondran, wanted to make yoga accessible to everyone regardless of their size or experience.
The program includes a variety of reading materials, wall charts, pose tutorials, and a full yoga routine that’s an hour long. If you don’t have time for the full one hour class, her Shapeshifter Flow is about 10 minutes long and is made up of 14 poses that stretch and tone the entire body.
The second part of the Quick Start guide goes into the benefits of stretching. It tells you the importance of stretching, how often you should stretch your body, the phases of stretching, and how to safely stretch your joints.
Once you’re thoroughly educated, the manual goes on to break down the poses in their entirety and how they benefit the body.
A few examples:
- Shoulder Socket Rotations: these poses open the chest and shoulder girdle. These are great poses if you sit at a desk or in front of a computer all day.
- Neck Movements: these gentle movements release accumulated tension in the neck. These movements are performed at the beginning of the flow and are meant to warm up the neck and remove any stiffness.
- Crocodile Pose: an effective pose for yogis with slipped discs or lower back pain.
- Child’s Pose: a resting posture utilized during fast-moving flow classes, child’s pose is also a great counter stretch to take after lots of extension or to release the shoulders after inversions and arm balances.
- Cat/Cow Pose: used to increase the flexibility of the shoulders, neck, and spine.
The guide then goes into more detail about the rest of the core yoga postures found in the series.
Finally, the Quick Start guide provides a breakdown of the entire program.
The pose manual is an excellent visual guide that breaks down the essential poses into easy-to-follow directions.
If you’re going through the final Shapeshifter class and you get stuck on a pose or can’t remember the proper alignment, this guide is handy to have next to your mat as a quick reference.
I really like this aspect of the program. It’s hard to find a yoga program that includes written materials you’re encouraged to print, write on, and use as you need them.
At A Glance wall charts
The At A Glance wall charts are incredibly useful, too. When you’re a new yogi, it’s fun to pop into poses while you’re brushing your teeth, drying your hair, or cooking dinner.
Print these charts out and put them on the wall around the house. When you practice consistently, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there, you’ll notice great strides in your flexibility and strength.
The “Bonuses” section has additional videos and audio downloads to further enhance your yoga practice.
Shapeshifter Cardio Flow
The Shapeshifter Cardioflow is a very short flow designed to get your heart pumping and your muscles working under three minutes.
This is a really complicated flow, and I’m not sure if saying it’s 100 percent yoga is correct. I had a really hard time following a lot of the poses. Most of them had names I’ve never ever heard of, and I’m fairly proficient in the Sanskrit terms of most yoga poses.
I’ll admit I’m completely ignorant on what a curtsy lunge, mountain climber, Rocca press, or rear lunge are. Because I don’t know what these things are, I was completely lost during the routine, and despite having done it multiple times, I still find my advanced flow classes much easier to follow.
However, there is an included manual with drawings of the poses and direct audio taken from the video. A transcription of the audio really doesn’t help much, though, when the directions are so vague.
“Stretch the back leg out, squeeze the glutes, back up to standing” and “Knees back down, hands to the front. Bring the far leg across, slide the other one through, balance, drop back down” weren’t that helpful for me.
However, once you get the hang of this flow, I see how it could be really beneficial in helping you burn some calories.
Ninja Secrets of Flexibility
Ninja Secrets of Flexibility sounded really promising. I’m always looking to improve my flexibility, especially in my hips and hamstrings.
Honestly, I couldn’t make it through these two videos. Not only was the teacher’s head cut off through the majority of the 20-minute video, the quality was pretty terrible, and it was more of a martial arts routine than a yoga class.
A lot of the movements were described using martial arts technology, so unless you’ve been practicing martial arts for a while, I think you’ll be as lost as I was. I think if I watched the video over and over again, I’d probably be able to catch on, but the quality of the video would make it difficult to power through that many times.
On top of that, it took a few times to download properly, and there are comments from subscribers going back three years saying they have difficulty watching the video. I think if you're able to make it through the video, it would be an effective tool to aid in your weight loss goals.
There are a few breathing meditation videos in the Bonuses section, too. The Breath Awareness meditation video was hard to get into, but once I got about five minutes in, I found I was really relaxed and still.
I did find it difficult to get past the poor recording quality (papers rustling, chairs moving).
Sleep Your Way Slim
Sleep Your Way Slim is a bonus manual filled with tips to sleep better, wake up more rested, and fall asleep more quickly. If you’re already focused on your health, a lot of this information is old news, but it’s still good to brush up on.
More studies are showing sleep is an integral part of a weight loss program, and people who get less than seven hours of sleep per night often weigh more than people who get seven or more hours every night.
People who don’t get enough sleep eat more because they have more waking hours, higher levels of hormones that trigger hunger pains, and less energy to exercise.
This guide goes into detail on regulating your sleep/wake hormones, such as cutting out screen time 30 minutes before you go to bed and making your sleeping space as dark as possible.
Do you have difficulty falling asleep? You also get tips on how to quickly fall asleep and make it a nightly habit. I found the guide to be a good source of material, and I think it is incredibly helpful for people new to living a healthier lifestyle.
Exercise Video Library
These videos are the core of the Shapeshifter program. This is where you learn how to do the essential poses that will eventually make up the 60-minute class.
Depending on the pose demonstrated in the video, the lengths vary from 60 seconds to a little over three minutes. If you’re familiar with yoga and know a variety of poses by their English names, some of these might be confusing.
For example, this is a very beginner-friendly program, and I thought it was odd seeing “eight point pose” on here since it’s a fairly advanced arm balance. However, it ended up being “knees, chest, chin”, a lovely stretching and strengthening pose that's totally beginner-friendly.
Other poses, like equestrian pose, I had never heard of and actually ended up being a low lunge. Some names were completely off. Half-moon pose, for example, is a standing pose where one leg is elevated level to the ground with the foot flexed. In this program, it’s a low crescent lunge.
Again, this isn’t a huge deal if you’re new to the practice, but it could lead to some confusion if you take your home practice to a studio.
Shapeshifter Follow Along Peak Class
Finally, we’re to the meat of the program: the Shapeshifter flow!
After you’ve busted your bottom working on the core poses and learning how to smoothly sequence them, you’re definitely ready for the hour-long practice. This is a slower-moving practice combining strength and flexibility.
More advanced students might find this practice to be a bit too beginner-friendly, but I felt really loose and gooey afterward. Don’t dismiss it if you’re looking for a good stretch! Kristine takes you through every pose you practiced in the video library, off your wall charts, and in the pose manual.
It may take a few tries to really feel the “flow” aspect of the class if you haven’t done yoga prior to this program, so don’t give up if it’s difficult to begin with!
The program recommends getting the hang of the 60-minute class before you move on to the flow. With all of the talk about the flow class, I was pretty shocked when I saw it was only seven minutes long.
While seven minutes is enough time to get a small sweat going, it’s hardly a full practice or even a complete workout in my opinion. Instead, they suggest repeating this flow five to 10 times for a complete workout.
That’s doable but inconvenient to have to memorize or constantly repeat a video I paid for.
The flow class will get your heart pumping and help you work up a sweat. I think it’s a great place to start with new yogis because it skips things like chaturanga, jumping forward from down dog, and multiple vinyasa repetitions, all of which can be intimidating to people that are new to yoga.
The flow moves at a fairly good pace without being too fast, so you will feel like you're burning some calories. It truly does work your entire body from top to bottom, so if you’re willing to replay the video five or more times, you will feel like you’ve gotten a full practice in.
Supported Devices and Technology
Not only can you download the video files (and burn them to discs, according to the Shapeshifter staff), but you can also download the audio files for both of the classes so you can take your practice to the park, beach, or backyard on your phone or MP3 player.
The classes can be streamed on computers and tablets. It’s best to have a broadband connection for effortless streaming. A fast internet speed is doubly important if you’re downloading the files to save on your device.
Look and Feel
Overall, the site is clean and easy to navigate, but it could use some major updating. I’ve probably grown accustomed to the aesthetics of more current sites, so going from a fancier site to something so plain was a bit of a change.
Not happy with what you read so far? Then let's look into some alternatives, because there are plenty and we have selected the best for you:
Gaiam TV has hundreds of online yoga videos. While the variety is nice, there are also specific programs designed to help you reach new goals or target a certain area of your body.
Gaiam’s Guides are included in the price of your Gaiam TV subscription ($9.95/month) and incorporate videos that already exist on the site. Take an eight-day Introduction to Power Vinyasa Yoga with teachers like Faith Hunter and Jesse Enright.
If you’re set on kickstarting weight loss, give the Get Lean, Get Healthy guide a try. It incorporates healthy eating and mindful living tips with powerful yoga classes designed to build muscle, increase your endurance, and feel good about the skin you’re in.
- You can’t download the Gaiam videos like the Shapeshifter videos, but you have 24/7 access to the Gaiam library.
- Gaiam has significantly more variety than Shapeshifter does and focus on more than weight loss, so if the heart and mind aspects are important to you, you’ll enjoy Gaiam much more.
- If you don’t care for a flowing yoga class, there are different types of yoga classes available on Gaiam, including yin and restorative classes.
I’ve reviewed Dirty Yoga, and I was really pleased with their 28-Day Dirty Challenge. It definitely isn’t a “get fit quick” program, but it does give you the tools to utilize yoga for toning your body and increasing your overall fitness.
Instead of just one long class, you are sent a new yoga class every day of the challenge. The classes vary in focus; some are cardio driven while others focus on strength and flexibility.
I really enjoyed this program. It wasn’t geared towards weight loss (having a singular goal of losing weight makes me obsessive and irrational), and instead focuses on getting off the couch everyday and working towards the goal of being more active.
- Shapeshifter Yoga is a program you’ll own forever; you only have access to the Dirty Yoga materials for the 28 days.
- All you need for the Shapeshifter program is a yoga mat. You need hand weights for the Dirty Yoga challenge.
- Dirty Yoga’s videos are better produced than Shapeshifter’s with better sound and video quality.
- Dirty Yoga focuses simply on being active for 28 days to develop healthier habits. Shapeshifter is geared towards weight loss.
I recommend Dirty Yoga over Shapeshifter if you’re a more advanced yoga student.
My final reaction to Shapeshifter Yoga is that it’s a well-rounded, thoughtful program that is geared towards students who have no background in yoga that want to lose weight without having to take up running or weight lifting.
If you're coming from an extended period of inactivity and you're dedicated to losing weight, this program is worth the purchase price! It gently introduces you to yoga and prevents burnout and injuries that are common with new exercise programs.
However, if you’re into fast moving classes, a variety of teachers, and advanced asanas, this program is not suitable for you. I do think if you’re recovering from a yoga-related injury, this could be helpful because each tutorial goes deeply into the proper alignment to avoid injury and pain.
Relearning certain poses certainly reduces the likelihood of getting injured because of poor alignment.
Shapeshifter Yoga offers everything you need to get started with yoga with all it's benefits. It is good for absolute beginners and offers detailed instructions.
It is not, however, an intense workout that will immediately help you to loose weight. But it might be your first step into a healthier lifestyle and therefore it is worth checking out!