Insight Timer App Review: Your In-Depth Guide for 2022

Insight Timer Review

Sleep, Anxiety & Stress

Insight Timer boasts to be the #1 free app for bettering your sleep, anxiety and stress. Where they lack in the visual appeal of a Calm or Headspace app, they make up for it with value in the creators they work with. The value of all they offer for anyone at a free base level is something that can’t be overlooked.

Here is Insight Timer App Review: Your In-Depth Guide for 2022

Welcome to our review on the free meditation app Insight Timer. In this Insight Timer app review I am going to over everything needed to help you decided if this mediation and sleep app is right for you.

There are a few things I love about Insight Timer that I haven’t found in other meditation apps. For one, the variety of its offerings are incredible, and I suppose that’s what you get from using an app taught by teachers worldwide rather than one or two people. From the music and meditation to the yoga classes, I love that this app doesn’t limit the user in any way. For instance, you don’t just click on a category like stress only to be left with what the app’s creators believe is best for you or the average person. Instead, this app lets you go deeper (only if you want to) to choose what style of practice is best for you.

Could scrolling around on this app be a bit overwhelming for a beginner who has never heard of concepts like a body scan or sound bath? Yes. But this app has such a strong sense of community that it makes you feel okay about starting where you are. Plus, most of what is offered is happening in real-time, where meditation and yoga teachers understand that, for many users, it’s like they are walking into a meditation circle or yoga class for the first time. That said, you can always utilize Insight’s timer, selecting a duration and bell sound if you ever feel like just doing your own thing.

I believe that whatever you are searching for, you will find it here — but more than that, you might discover things you weren’t expecting if you are willing to keep an open mind.

Is Insight Timer a Good App?

Insight Timer is a good meditation app that offers a ton of value to its members, premium or not. If you’ve ever been even remotely curious about meditation apps and done a little bit of research, you’ve probably heard of apps like Calm or Headspace. But Insight Timer is the biggest meditation app you’ve probably never heard of. With over 115,000 meditations, Insight Timer offers the largest free library of guided meditations in the world.

When I talk about offering value, I don’t just mean quantity or that users spend more total minutes meditating on Insight Timer than Calm, Headspace, or any other meditation app.

Insight Timer offers essentially the same features you will find in similar apps, from meditations to courses, music, and yoga. The difference is in how they’re delivered and organized: my two favorite aspects of this app.

But before we dive into those specifics and other features in our Insight Timer review, is it too late to change my answer? 

Insight Timer isn’t just a good app…it’s a great one! Still, I’m not here to tell you what to do or think — I’m just here to tell you everything I’ve learned about this app in just over a week, so you can decide whether it’s worth giving a try. However, I must admit that Insight Timer makes my job of (hopefully) leaving you all with plenty of meditation goodness easy.

Whether you are completely new to meditation or consider yourself a bit of a pro, I do not doubt that you will find something about Insight Timer to benefit from. And all you need to access it is a smartphone (Apple or Android) or a computer. With that, let’s get down to business.

Insight Timer Cost

Member Plus cost: $29 USD

If you’ve just downloaded the Insight Timer app, all you have to do is create an account with your email, and there are just a few short steps to follow from there.

The app will ask you to select a few things you came to the app seeking — things like work stress, negative thinking, or learning more about meditation in general.

From there, you can select from a handful of teachings types that interest you, such as spiritual, religious, or scientific. The last question they ask is your experience with mediation and self-care, and they give you some options to help you answer, including apps or local classes.

I assume that these questions help personalize your home page, which is where you end up next. Unlike other apps, you aren’t immediately bombarded with ads or pop-ups informing you of their premium plan before you’ve even tried a single meditation.

It honestly took a bit of digging until I started to find courses with a small “member plus” icon at the bottom of the featured image. As you scroll through the app, this helps you know which ones not to bother clicking on if you’re on the free version.

You might think because they offer so much meaningful content for free that they would at least turn to ads or charge you for all the top-notch material, but nope, Insight Timer offers a massive library of quality content and meditations for free.

Only those who wish to upgrade to Member Plus will pay $29.99 USD per year, even though the website and all other info online at this time (Nov 2021) say it will cost $60. This does include a free one-week trial. 

Insight Timer Free

As you navigate the app, you don’t get the impression that you are limited with the Insight Timer free version in any way.

It wasn’t until my 2nd or 3rd meditation that I tried to pause a meditation after I got distracted and realized I couldn’t. At that point, I received my first notification about the paid version of Insight Timer, saying that I could utilize functions of their advanced player, including fast-forwarding and rewinding.

I’m no developer, but that seems like a fairly basic function to me. So I was a little surprised to see that highlighted as a Member Plus option, but it’s probably because they already offer so much for free that they needed to have something worth selling you on!

I decided that as much as I use features like that with almost everything I do – like other meditation apps and workouts – because I’m so easily distracted and always hit start too soon, that I wasn’t going to be bitter about it. After all, there are no pauses in real life, and I think it was an important message and part of my meditation practice to go with the flow.

Insight Timer Premium

Now that I’ve used this Insight Timer review to go way too in-depth about what is probably their most basic premium feature let’s talk about what else Insight Premium (Member Plus) offers!

The biggest thing that stands out about Member Plus is the course section. With a paid subscription, you can get access to 1,000 courses published weekly by the world’s top teachers.

The courses seem to be a great place to turn to for taking your personal growth to the next level. You can search by topic and go at your own pace. Most courses appear to be 10 days, although some have 30 or 40 days (lessons).

Apart from unlocking hundreds of courses, the only other main premium feature I haven’t mentioned yet is the offline listening feature. With offline listening through premium, you can download meditations to listen to even when you’re not connected to WiFi! So that’s a nice touch because you never know when you’ll need a quick breathing exercise when on the go.

As far as premium meditations, I’m pressed to find any meditations with a Member Plus icon. None of the meditations seem to be tucked away in some inaccessible section on the app. So I assume they are all free, and upon a little bit of research, I can confirm it’s because Insight doesn’t care for the conflict that can come with locking your daily meditation behind a paywall.

How to Use Insight Timer

After putting in a few weeks with the Insight Timer I have pulled out the most valuable points to help you decide if this mediation app is right for you. Or if you have already bought it, I hope you can take away some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this app.

Insight Timer Homepage

I’m not going to lie to you — when I first came to my Insight Timer home page, I remember looking at several black and white buttons thinking, hmmmm, this isn’t the colorful layout that I’m used to. There isn’t a schedule lined up for me telling me what to do that day. And who in the world are these people in this inconsistent sea of photos of headshots, selfies, and pictures of yogis holding poses out in nature?

This is a screen shot of the insight timer app homepage
This is a screen shot of the insight timer app homepage

It turns out the black and white buttons at the top might become your new best friends. These buttons help to quickly navigate you to guided meditations, yoga, courses, sleep, music, and more.

At any rate, I didn’t know what to think initially, so I released my expectations and kept scrolling around for answers. The more I did this, the more intrigued I became.

Insight Timer Meditations

You might never think that searching for what you need among thousands of meditations could be possible, but Insight Timer makes it so.

Insight app’s meditations are organized by and offer many benefits from stress & relationships, healthy & happiness, recovery & healing, sleep meditation, and many others. And those are just the main categories.

From there, you can search for meditations on topics like compassion, connection, depression, motivation, clarity, grief, anger, and letting go…the list goes on. And you can also filter your search by time in 5-minute increments.

Depending on how specific you’re looking to get, it’s possible that even from there, you can spend some time digging for a title that fits your needs. However, the categories and filters help and will bring up all meditations containing tags for those you’ve selected. From there, you can also easily sort by most played, highest rated, newest, shortest, and longest.

Pro tip: You can also keep an organized library of your favorites and create playlists of any (non-live) meditations. This is all saved under your “My Library” tab (the “🖤” tab at the bottom of the app), where you can also access any courses you have started.

This is a screen shot of the insight timer app section called my library

After doing my first two meditations led by two different people with entirely different voices and teaching styles, I understood the reason for all the beautifully inconsistent photos of teachers all over the app. I realized that these are REAL people, and there was something so unique and special about that.

I’m not saying that the people behind apps like Calm or Headspace aren’t real, but there is something so genuine and captivating about the idea of hearing from so many people around the world. It felt like a real-life meditation, almost as if I was sitting there with that person. And that’s when I started to realize one of the most significant aspects of this app: the live features.

Insight Timer Live Features & Events

Insight Timer has a great mix of prerecorded and live meditations. Although, it’s not just guided meditations that you can search for. Within their live events section, you can search for music, talks, and yoga.

This is a screenshot of the featured events desktop on insight timer

You can also further filter by practice, origin, and benefit — the same optional filters you can use when searching for a non-live meditation. For example, you might select “guided,” “mindfulness,” “new age,” and then “relationships”; the app will then show you all of the relevant live meditations happening or coming up in order by time.

this is a screenshot of the live events on phone from insight timer

Insight Timer Yoga

Yoga is not just a section filled with prerecorded classes like other apps. All of Insight Timer’s yoga classes are live…and free! You can access the Yoga library by clicking the Yoga button at the top of your home page.

You can also use the Live section (the main center icon on your app) to filter for yoga classes. So when you’re selecting practices and benefits, you select from the same broad categories as you would with other searches — broad in the sense that they aren’t specific to yoga. Although it would be nice if you could at least sort by yoga style (such as a slower or faster-moving class), it makes sense that you can’t because, again, there isn’t a separate tab just for yoga.

this is a screnshot of the yoga section on insight timer
this is a screenshot of sadhguru yoga routines on insight timer app

That said, you can utilize the home screen search bar to type in something you’re looking for. For example, if you start typing in the word “vinyasa” and look under Tracks, you will see mostly relevant results for prerecorded yoga classes and user-created music playlists (something that could be great to save in your library). To search for classes, however, you’ll want to slide over to Events, and the app will list upcoming classes with “vinyasa” in the name.

Apart from that, the quality and variety of yoga are wonderful. I could see why this department could be a little overwhelming for beginners, as there is no consistency with the titles of the classes. But yoga styles and class names can be confusing for beginners no matter what. That said, I’m actually a fan of how most of the instructors seem to use the name of their upcoming class as a very brief description. 

Some examples of class titles you might see include: “Yoga for Back, Shoulders and Neck,” “Gentle Yoga for Inner Peace,” “All Levels Vinyasa Yoga: 60 Min”, and “Yin Yoga for Grief.”

this is a screenshot of the yoga section on insight timer app
this is a screenshot of the yoga nidra for sleep section in insight timer app

These class titles are written underneath each featured image, while on the image itself, it clearly shows the date and start time of the class. The only thing it doesn’t show is the length of the class. You can usually find this information in the class titles and descriptions provided by the instructor, but some instructors don’t mention it anywhere, which makes it harder to plan for. Come on, Insight teachers — we’re not all that free-spirited and spontaneous.

As a final note on the Yoga section, my first experience was fantastic—the night before, I chose a class to try in the morning. I selected “attend” and later noticed it then showed up at the top of the Live tab. I didn’t have to wait to receive any email or zoom link — I just clicked on the class when I was ready, and it opened right up.

I used my desktop, and it was just like watching a live YouTube video, with a little chat box to the left to connect with the community or leave feedback for the instructor. I left mine a note about how much I loved her Yin class afterward, and as I was about to close out, I noticed that she started replying to comments and saying “hi” to each class attendee by name. She seemed excited to hear that my experience with Insight Timer was going great so far. It was an overall cool experience.

After this class, I started to see that, although this app has some social features, it’s not just a social app where you rack up points or challenge other people. Insight Timer is a community! I then found that it’s the largest meditation community on the planet, with 19 million users from over 100 countries speaking over 50 languages.

Each of the teachers has a profile that you can follow to stay updated with their content. So from my homepage (at the very top), I searched for that instructor by name. The only unfortunate thing about the live events is that you can’t access your history, as they don’t appear under your Activity section within your profile. And you also cannot follow instructors on the desktop version, even though you can find them and the button to follow them is there. So I would have been bummed had I not almost immediately searched for that instructor’s name and found her.

How to Become a Teacher on Insight Timer

Signing up to become a teacher on Insight seems to be a pretty quick and straightforward process. You can find everything you need by clicking “Become a Teacher” under the Resources tab on the homepage of their website.

From there, you update your teacher profile with a photo and bio. There are different sections to share your history of training and education to ensure credibility.

Insight Timer does require a yoga certificate for hosting live yoga sessions, which you can upload under “Yoga Certification.” There is a separate section titled “Teacher Certification” to upload a certificate if you have one. I believe this could be for teaching meditations, but you could always hop into their live chat if you have questions.

this is a screenshot of the how to become a teacher on the insight timer app

From there, the approval process takes 72 hours. At that time, you can start publishing one track every 24 hours, which is their way of regulating an influx of new teacher (publisher) videos on a user’s homepage.

Teachers split the revenue with Insight Timer 50/50. They can also choose to accept donations. So, users, note that if you leave a review at the end of a class, the app will pop up and ask if you want to donate.

I could see where that could be off-putting for some, but they’re not in your face about it. And I think it’s nice to have that opportunity after engaging in a session that benefited you.

In my opinion, with all the free resources this app provides, I might stick with the free version and donate directly to my favorite teachers. Or possibly the other way around. You can also do both, of course, and thankfully Insight Timer’s affordable yearly price makes giving a teacher donation here are there more than feasible.

Best Teachers on Insight Timer

Insight Timer doesn’t try to reel subscribers in by slapping images of today’s pop stars on your home page. It’s not until you go to the desktop version on Insight Timer that you might see some faces you know, including Gisele Bündchen and Russell Brand.

this is a screenshot of the russel brand course on insight timer

Goldie Hawn’s not-for-profit organization, MindUP, is one of the many great resources for children on the Insight Timer app. And for parents looking for more resources to help their kids do anything from boost confidence to get better sleep, you can click on the Parents button on the home page.

Insight Timer has some of the world’s most respected leaders and experts in meditation, including zen master Thich Nhat Han, Buddhist minister, activist Lama Rod Owens, and spiritual teacher Sadhguru. The app also features business leaders, scientists, and musicians.

this is a screenshot of the wim hof course on insight timer

With Insight Timer, you can access meditations from Sharon Salzberg, a New York Times bestselling author, and Wim Hof, motivational speaker and athlete. In this app, you can also find some beautiful music by Pablo Arellano, a Mexican musician, and composer.

The Insight Timer Review Takeaway

Overall, I’m grateful to have found this app. Not only is there a ton of content, but there is no drop in quality or value, even for what is free.

I could see how more advanced practitioners might benefit from additions in navigating and filtering specific courses or classes. However, the ability to search for something as specific as a 10-minute visualization practice for happiness is better than what I could ever think up to type in a YouTube or Google search.

That said, beginner meditators need not panic. You might not quite know what a secular practice would be like (and neither do I) or what a self-observation practice consists of. So, start with what you know! Look at the mental health benefits, like stress, anxiety, or performance, choose your time length, and go from there. Or, as Thich Nhat Hanh would put it, “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

This app is the real deal in a world where everything can seem so commercialized and disingenuous at times. It’s probably the biggest app you’ve never heard of, partly because it’s not so picture-perfect on the surface. But if you decide to dive deeper into exploring this app, you’ll be on your way to a supported journey through a deeper exploration of self.

You can also check out the other leading meditation apps on the market.

Calm vs Headspace: What’s Better?

Calm App Review: Your In-Depth Guide for 2022

Headspace App Review: Your In-Depth Guide for 2022

Ten Percent Happier App Review: Your In-Depth Guide for 2022

Sam Harris Waking Up App Review: Your In-Depth Guide for 2022

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