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Is Deepak Chopra the next Mark Zuckerberg?

Deepak Chopra launches a digital wellness platform
Photo: Deepak Chopra

Today Deepak Chopra, MD, a pioneer of the American alternative-health movement, launched a free wellbeing app called Jiyo. And with it, he says, he wants to reach and connect 1 billion people, and help them lead healthy, spiritually fulfilled lives. Call him the Mark Zuckerberg of wellness.

Before the social media age, and before Millennials had sipped their first green juice, tried oil pulling, or even went bike dancing at SoulCycle, there was Chopra. His 80-some best-sellers like Quantum Healing and Perfect Health, which have been translated into 40-some languages, laid the foundation stones of what we now recognize as the wellness boom. (Though Chopra admits he could never have predicted the current size of the fitness/juicing/social meditation movement.)

Now, with Jiyo (which loosely means “a prosperous life”), Chopra and technology expert Poonacha Machai will continue to popularize well-being practices in a digital format. It’s a “personal transformation platform,” says Chopra, shunning the word app, “and it’s meant to address all the facets of a healthy consciousness,” including personal growth, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and relationships. “It’s not solely about meditation,” Chopra points out, distinguishing the scale of his digital endeavor from the single-note apps. Though there are many meditation videos on Jiyo, and we share one exclusively below.

Deepak Chopra's new wellness app
Stills from Jiyo. Photo: Jiyo

While Machai and I scroll and tap through Jiyo (right now there’s “deliberately no typing”), it’s filled with what the duo call “healthy nudges”—task-y challenges like taking a break during the work day, advice on things like the benefits of house plants, and, as it gets to know your clicking habits, reminders on how to wind down for bed, for example.

Wellness scene luminaries are convening here: like Mark Hyman, MD, and best-selling beauty-detox author Kimberly Snyder (and W+G Wellness Council expert) are writing for Jiyo. And, you’re the first to hear this: Jiyo will also share articles from Well+Good. Stay tuned!

As a social platform, Jiyo wants you to share and document your wellness accomplishments via deliberately unfiltered photos and videos (“we want a more authentic approach,” says Chopra). You can also follow “people like you”—AKA other 30-year-olds with a torn ACL who are getting back into running. “It emphasizes the healthy ways people are connected that draw them together,” says Machaiah. “That you went to the same university isn’t often a real, meaningful connection.”

They’ve also thought about how your phone can be used to tell you about the light or (overbearing) sound quality in your space, and provide customized biometric factoids about your voice or facial expression (yup, you look and sound stressed), and they’ve teamed up with a genetics firm to analyze your saliva to provide even more direction about you.

Fitness is a little weak right now, Chopra says, though star yogis are signed on in various capacities. “We will be rolling out a yoga program with Eddie Stern that’s like what Peloton is doing,” says Chopra, with live classes and sensors that provide biomechanical feedback. You can also book fitness classes using MindBodyOnline, the software used by a thousands of workout studios—and soon you’ll also be able to buy your Thrive Market coconut oil via Jiyo, too.

“We’re trying not to overwhelm people with the first version of the platform,” says Chopra, who’s obviously thought long and hard about becoming a wellbeing service destination.

Chopra’s bold, Zuckerberg-like goal to create an online wellness clearing house—and clubhouse—seems well-timed, given that the Millennial generation is even more passionate about things like meditation and Ayurveda than the generations before them. But will they come? Jiyo doesn’t avail itself of stylish flourishes of wellness powerhouse brands like SoulCycle, Sweetgreen, or even more apples-to-apples apps like Headspace. For now, they’ll have to love it for deeper reasons.

To add to your quest for healthy (self) knowledge, here are the most exciting wellness books to read in 2016 and if you think meditation is hard, you should see what goes through Lena Dunham’s mind