a reader wrote to me recently and asked me to suggest some cheap yoga classes around town. i replied with a short list of options for him to try out and promised him a more comprehensive list sometime soon.
well finally, here's that list. or at least my first pass at it, only because i know i'll find more after i hit the "publish" button :)
anyway, as far as trying to find the least expensive classes, you really can't do better than FREE. so i'll start there.
all the lululemon athletica stores offer community fitness classes on a regular basis, usually on sunday mornings before the stores officially open for the day. while their offerings can run the gamut from dance, to martial arts, to strength training, a good majority of them are yoga classes. lucky us!
here are all the lulu locations in the LA area; click on the store name to access the store's community events page:
if you're a member of meetup.com , you can find yourself some free yoga groups to join:
Free Community Yoga at Escape Above - this free class is taught every monday evening at the escape above spa and yoga lounge in long beach by a rotating group of teachers. i managed to join their first meetup and found the all-levels class quite enjoyable. the room did fill to capacity that first evening, so i suggest you show up early to guarantee a spot in the class.
Yoga Potluck - psalm isadora teaches this all-levels class held one sunday evening a month at the KULA space in santa monica. while the class itself is free, students are asked to bring a dish to share with the group -- after all, this is a potluck :) on the evening i showed up, not only were the yoga and the food delicious, but the conversation was pretty yummy, too!
of course, there's always the "first-class-free" deal available to new students at many yoga studios in town. just be aware that since the goal is to attract students who are likely to return, some limit this offer to local residents only.
the idea behind donation-based classes is that even if you're really struggling to make ends meet, you still have access to yoga classes. give as little or as much as you can afford, but just remember that the yoga instructors are trying to make a decent living themselves with the cash that ends up in the donation box.
i'll start with the places where ALL classes are donation-based:
guerilla yoga - the classes are literally taught by a roving band of fun-loving anusara teachers led by marc holzman. depending on the time and the day, classes are held at either the hollywood dance center on highland avenue or the women's club of hollywood on la brea. some yoga experience is recommended; be prepared to work hard, sweat profusely, yet enjoy every minute of it! the suggested donation is $10.
bryan kest's power yoga - there are two locations, both literally blocks apart from each other near the third street promenade in santa monica. most of the classes are described as all-levels, but since they can get pretty strenuous, i suggest newbies get their feet wet first in the beginner level classes listed on the schedule. the suggested donation is $12.
runyon canyon yoga - i finally found the time to drive out to the foothills of hollywood to get to this outdoor treat. you really can't beat practicing out in a park under a clear sky (or as clear as LA skies go)! classes are taught every morning -- yup, seven days a week -- at 10:30am, with sunset yoga at 6pm on mondays through thursdays during the summer. the entrance to runyon canyon park is at the northernmost end of fuller avenue, just off franklin avenue. parking can be scarce, so be prepared to hike uphill from your parking spot many blocks away. once you walk through the park gate, look for the grassy expanse surrounded by a hedge on your left. the class i took was taught by daniel; i believe there are four other teachers who share the teaching responsibilities with him. there is no suggested donation amount, so please give with your heart.
then there are the studios that have a few donation-based classes woven into their regular class schedule. the teachers and/or times are subject to change; however, the information below is current as of the date i compiled the list.
santa monica yoga - recent SMY teacher training grads get to share with the community all the good stuff they've learned on tuesday, wednesday, thursday, and saturday afternoons. help support a budding yoga instructor and enrich your own practice in the process.
truyoga - rainbeau mars teaches her raYoka classes (a yoga/martial arts/core conditioning hybrid) on tuesday and thursday mornings. aras baskauskas, who also teaches at kest's studio, powers (and empowers) his students on tuesday and thursday evenings. suggested donation for each class is $12.
yogahop - tamal dodge (this guy is on almost every westside studio's schedule!) teaches at this santa monica studio on tuesday and thursday evenings. unlike the usual hip-hop vibe yogahop is known for, tamal's choice of music is mellower, but the workout is just as intense. suggested donation is $12.
yummy yoga - katrina palandri holds her classes right around lunchtime in los feliz on sunday afternoons. sounds like the makings of the perfect lazy weekend... get up late, take a yoga class, then have a really late lunch...
some teachers hold regular donation-based classes at various venues around the city. here are a few of them:
psalm isadora (see yoga potluck, above) leads her weekly classes on saturday mornings at 10am at the church in ocean park in santa monica. during the summer, the classes are moved outdoors to a patch of grass on the beach a few blocks away. a few more oceanview classes remain on the schedule through the end of august, so put that on your schedule before the season's over. i know i will.
vanda mikolowski does comedy yoga on the beach on mondays, wednesdays, fridays, and saturdays at 9am. it's a fun class, with a little bit of stretching here, some meditating there, and a whole lot of laughing throughout. you'll find her happy group of yogis where rose ave meets the water in venice beach. she's currently in the midst of filming a movie -- a comedy, go figure -- so whenever she's out on a shoot, she has other teachers fill in for her. you'll need to be on her mailing list to make sure you hear about any schedule changes.
stella valente , another upcoming comedienne, teaches donation classes at the BACE pilates studio at the corner of wilshire and la brea on sunday mornings at 11am, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.
colleen carroll teaches a therapeutic yoga class in the top o' topanga clubhouse library every saturday at 10am. calm and soothing yoga in a beautiful and serene mountain setting? i'm so there!
as far as trying to land a discount on yoga classes, the best option is usually to purchase a class pass series or a membership -- sometimes the per-class rate works out to as low as $10 a class! and for those who prefer to pay the single class drop-in price, there's still hope for you :)
community classes are usually held in the middle of the day (with the assumption, i would think, that those who are most likely to need the financial assistance are those who are unemployed, and therefore available to take mid-morning classes).
here are the studios that offer community classes. i've indicated their discounted per-class price (note: many studios require cash payment for these classes):
rosemary walden handed out flyers about her beach yoga class at aaron reed's beach yoga tribe gathering last week. while aaron's series of free classes is held only during the summer, rosemary's classes are held year-round, rain or shine (although we all know it never rains in southern california) on the sand in the marina peninsula. i'll look for her one of these saturday mornings to try her out -- 9:30am where hurricane street meets the ocean. $10 per class.
hillary kimblin teaches an outdoor yoga class EN ESPANOL on saturday mornings at 10am for members of the LA spanish language meetup group. it's an all-levels class -- yoga-wise and spanish-wise -- and is held adjacent to the beach at crescent bay park in santa monica (just south of pico). $10 per class.
siri nath and sat prem teach a kundalini class at newcastle park in arcadia on saturday mornings at 10am. join the yoga in the park meetup group for more information. $5 per class.
while i continue to search for more classes/studios to add to the list, i certainly will welcome any suggestions you send my way!