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I Tried Yoga in the Metaverse. It Was Not What I Expected

Here's what happened when a Gen-Z non-gamer enters the metaverse.

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In case you missed it, the future has arrived. You can now buy clothes, travel, hang out with friends, and even practice yoga in the metaverse. Yes, yoga and meditation has officially come to the metaverse—the immersive digital cyberspace where real-world activities become virtual realities—and as Yoga Journal‘s resident Gen-Z writer, I had to try it for myself.

In a new collaboration with Alo Yoga, the online gaming platform Roblox launched an immerse space for yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices. The space, called the Alo Sanctuary, is free and available now on Roblox’s platform. In the virtual space, users can shop at the Alo store, practice yoga, and meditate.

Mindfulness practices might be new for Roblox, but it’s a concept they want to embed into their platform. “Our mission is to connect billions of people in the metaverse with optimism and civility, and this just fits so well because you can connect people together, introduce civility even more, and [encourage] well-being,” says Christina Wootton, Roblox’s vice president of global partnerships.

Members of Gen-Z are already familiar with meditation and yoga practices. So a mindfulness-centered experience on their go-to gaming platform seems like a logical next step. But will it make sense to me?

My yoga and meditation experience in the metaverse

I dabble in Wii’s MarioKart and the occasional Just Dance, but I’m definitely not a gamer (far from it, really). Prior to testing out this new experience on Roblox, I had never been on the platform. Admittedly, I was skeptical. There are thousands of YouTube videos, apps, and online classes for meditation and yoga. Could a gaming platform really offer a truly immersive environment to practice yoga and meditation?

I downloaded Roblox on my computer, created a free account, and logged in around 5 p.m. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I swapped my jeans out for leggings and rolled out my mat (IRL). Due to my lack of gaming knowledge, I wasn’t sure how to personalize my avatar, so she didn’t exactly resemble me—she had shaggy black hair and wore a sweater with pizza on it. Soon after we (she?) dropped into the world, I used the up, down, right, and left arrows on my keyboard to move my avatar around the space, which resembled a virtual island retreat.

The rushing sound of the island’s waterfall and the chirping birds lingered as I roamed. After a long day of work, the sanctuary’s soothing sounds seemed to calm me down. And I hadn’t even practiced yoga or meditation yet.

I headed to the Alo store to pick up my virtual yoga mat, and then wandered around the island in hopes of finding a yoga pose. In the game, users have the chance to discover seven poses around the island. Once you discover a pose, your avatar is able to practice it at any time. Once my avatar discovered Triangle Pose, it was reminiscent of the “drop and give me 10” energy of a high-intensity workout class. Suddenly, my avatar could break into Triangle Pose whenever I clicked the pose button. (My real-life self was admittedly laying on my couch at this point.)

Avatars practice yoga at the Alo Sanctuary on Roblox
(Photo: Roblox)

Practicing yoga in the metaverse

Eventually, I navigated my avatar over to the dedicated yoga space to expand my practice beyond Triangle Pose. In the space, a practice from Alo Moves teacher Ashley Galvin played on a screen in front of the avatars. I opted to zoom in a bit on the screen to view the practice, as it doesn’t expand to fill your whole screen. However, once we arrived at the space, we could only join in where the practice was at that point, rather than being prompted to start at the beginning. This seemed a little odd, but I went with it.

While my avatar stood on its mat in the metaverse, I moved onto my mat in the real world. My avatar was only able to practice the poses it “found,” which consisted of Triangle Pose and Tree Pose. I could click on those poses to cue it to practice them (even if they didn’t match up with Galvin’s sequence)—or my avatar would just sit its virtual mat. In the real world, I was doing a lot more work than my virtual avatar.

After moving through the flow for about five minutes, I navigated my avatar away from the space. Frankly, it felt unnatural to drop into a practice at the midway point—my body wasn’t warmed up, and my mind wasn’t in the right headspace. I couldn’t get into the rhythm, like I do during other classes. As someone who already struggles with the lack of accountability in online classes, this type of practice environment wasn’t for me.

Meditating in an orb

Have you dreamed of meditating in an orb? Well, this is your chance. Or rather, erm, your avatar’s chance. At the meditation space, you can see other users who are meditating floating in orbs above the serene water. When we arrived, just four other orbs hovered in the air above my avatar. Not one for quiet meditation, I selected the shortest meditation available, which was just one minute. (The two other options were three and 10 minutes long.)

A backdrop of a serene blue sky appeared, and I was led through some deep breathing exercises. A minute of deep breathing? That’s something even I could handle. New meditation sessions appear daily in this corner of the metaverse, so even if I opted to revisit the one-minute meditation, a new practice would be available. Overall, I liked the meditation practice. It felt accessible and easy to follow for someone who doesn’t tend to enjoy traditional meditation.

Is the future of yoga in the metaverse?

So now that I’ve practiced in the metaverse, you’re probably wondering if I’m ditching my in-person classes and YouTube sessions in favor of yoga on Roblox? Definitely not. For me, dropping into the yoga practice midway through wasn’t ideal. And while I liked the meditation session, I would rather not spend any more time on my laptop. However, I was surprised to find how soothing the virtual experience could be, especially for someone who hadn’t spent time on the platform before.

But even if I’m not exactly a Roblox convert, this experience does have the potential to bring the practices of yoga and meditation to an even broader audience. Since its launch on February 10, the Alo Sanctuary has already been visited more than 6 million times, and Roblox estimates that users have practiced over 2.5 million meditations.

So, whether it’s in the metaverse, on YouTube, or through TikTok, making yoga and meditation more accessible is definitely something I’m rooting for.