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Gaia

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gaia.com

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Is it just me, or is 99% of the content featured on a majority of the premium streaming platforms on the market today entirely, utterly, and hopelessly vapid and superficial? I mean, seriously, what is going on? Have you watched the current number one show on Netflix? Blind Love? If you have never heard of it, I’ll break it down for you really quick … It’s a reality TV show, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do … basically two perfect strangers spend some period of time talking with a wall between them. The entire time that they are getting to know each other, they are not able to see each other. By the time the season is over, they have to decide to be together before ever laying eyes on one another.

Sure, okay, the argument could be made, I suppose, that this is not, in fact, as superficial as I am making it out to be, seeing as, well, the ‘lovers’ in question are not basing their decision to be with one another on physical appearance at all. Okay, I hear that. But if you have never watched this show, jeez, you should hear the ‘conversations’ that they have. They aren’t discussing anything if import. They are not delving into important matters of the mind, the heart, their core beliefs. For a show that seems to go out of its way to evade the stereotypical reality TV cliché of being vain and narcissistic, it is almost admirable how shallow it still manages to be.

But I am not here to discuss the weirdly false cash grab that is Blind Love with you. I am merely using this show, Netflix’s most popular, to illustrate a larger point … there is not much in the way of conscious, philosophical, deep, or cosmic content to be found on most of the mainstream streaming services. Where are the shows that speak to our soul? Where are the movies about the interconnectedness of all things in the universe? Where can I stream something that sheds off the entrapments of the ego and delves into the inner light of all living beings?

If you are hungry for something more substantial, something that counters the typical narrative of digital entertainment, then you have come to the right place. I believe that I have stumbled upon the perfect streaming service for harnessing a deeper understanding, challenging the societal narratives of commercialism and materialism, and exploring some of the most fascinating and unexplained mysteries of human existence. The streaming service in question is called Gaia. And it is nothing short of a game-changer.

Gaia, of course, is the mother goddess of all earthly things. In Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth, of nature. What an appropriate name for this streaming service that – through educational, exploratory, inquisitive, and thoughtful series and films (as well as instructional yoga and guided meditation lessons) – aims to enlighten its viewers, to make them one with the world and the cosmic energy plane in which they coexist. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Gaia.

History

The media company, Gaia (formerly Gaiam) was founded in Boulder, Colorado (because, of course it was) in 1988 by Jirka Rysavy. He had a vision of “serving the conscious consumer,” a demographic that has alternately been referred to by sociologist Paul Ray in 1966 as the “cultural creatives.” Rysavy apparently saw a huge missed opportunity in this underserved niche. And, thus, he decided to speak directly to consumers who are educated and tend to make purchases based more on their values than any other motivation. The original name of the company, Gaiam, comes from the aforementioned mother goddess, Gaia, being linguistically fused with the phrase “I am,” as a nod to “the interconnectivity of all things.”

Gaiam merged with the Californian company, Real Goods Solar in 2001. In 2005, Gaia acquired two media companies: Good Times Entertainment and Jetlag Productions. The company continued its ascent, acquiring more media companies in 2007 – this time in the form of the sites Lime.com and Zaadz.com in order to increase its online presence and begin to make the shift into digital media, the final frontier.

In 2007, the company also launched the streaming service, Gaiam TV. This initial iteration of Gaia looked pretty similar, even if smaller and less developed, to the current form of the streaming platform. It offered videos on yoga, meditation, and pseudoscientific theory. It wasn’t until relatively recently, in 2015, that Gaia would officially change its name and expand its offerings exponentially.

They did this through a few smart business moves. In 2012, for example, Gaiam acquired a DVD distributor from the Universal Music Group, a Vivendi subsidiary. They merged this distributor with its home entertainment division, resulting in a merger known as Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment. And in 2019, actually, USA Today listed Gaia Inc. as one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment retailers.

In addition to its constantly growing library of prerecorded original content, Gaia began live streaming events from a newly acquired events center on its Louisville, Kentucky campus. These events are live-streamed to 187 different countries and also come equipped with live translation. They often feature big names in the pseudoscience and spiritualist world, such as Graham Hancock, Gregg Braden, Bruce Lipton, Caroline Myss.

Design

Gaia, from a design perspective, can hang, so to speak, with all of the most popular streaming platforms. It offers a refreshingly sparse and minimalist layout. You will be greeted by a soft white background, with tags and a site menu bar at the top of the page for easy navigation. Below that, the site’s layout is strikingly similar to that of Netflix. In fact, if you have ever used Netflix before, then browsing Gaia should be a breeze. You’ll find a large banner toward the top that plays a preview (automatically muted, though, unlike Netflix), and tons of videos that are separated by genre and content type as you scroll down below.

In the site menu bar, quickly access whatever category or interest you like. You can choose from Yoga, Meditation, Series, Docs and Films, Topics, New Videos, Events, Recipes, or Articles. Below these options, your user menu is conveniently splayed out, allowing you to access your customized playlists, watch history, the community blog, or the live channel, Gaia Stream. Few streaming sites are so open in their design, and it makes for very effortless and streamlined user experience.

Content

This is one of the things that I absolutely love about Gaia. First of all, this streaming site has tons of content (they boast over 8,000 videos). But it is more than mere quantity that impresses me about Gaia. The range of different types of content offered is equally impressive. The fact that you can access yoga lessons, guided meditations, series about aliens and ancient mysteries, films about the collective conscious and metaphysics, delicious and healthy recipes, astrology, psychology, articles, a thriving community blog, and a live TV channel all in one place is astounding to me. Some of the stuff goes a little too far off the deep end for my preferences, but, hey, there is a little something here for truth seekers of all stripes.

Desktop and Mobile Experience

This may be the first streaming service that has inspired me to recommend the app over the desktop site. Usually, I am not a huge fan of watching content on my phone or tablet. But the Gaia app is so good, that you can’t make use of it is you subscribe. Other Gaia users seem to agree with me on this, seeing as it has an average rating of 4.8 stars on the Apple App Store (from over 49,000 reviews). I don’t think I have ever seen an app rated that highly.

Pricing and Plans

Gaia offers 3 basic subscription models.

-Monthly: $11.99/month -Annual: $99/year -Live Access: $24.92/month (or $299/year)

You’ll need the live access tier in order to view any of Gaia’s live-streamed events. You also get access to live chat sessions with experts and replays of all archived events. Gaia is, by no means, the cheapest streaming service. But it does offer a one-week free trial if you want to see if it is right for you.

Suggestions that I have for Gaia

I would love to see Gaia become a little cheaper as it grows in popularity. Also, there are a few design flaws, such as the fact that the scrub bar and title won’t go away when you play a video in full-screen, and the font of the descriptions on the Roku/smart TV app is way too small to read from a reasonable distance. Other than that, though, Gaia has pretty much cracked the code of conscious streaming!

Likes & Hates:
Tons of spiritual, pseudoscientific, thought-provoking content
Massive and excited community of users
Series, films, docs, articles, recipes, articles, lessons, guided yoga/meditations
Videos have a comments section
Amazing app
Some minor design flaws
Some content a little too out-there for me
Expensive