Los Angeles has perhaps the highest number of yoga practitioners per capita outside of India, and the city proudly offers enough variations on the ancient philosophy to appeal to just about any demographic. Sure, one can study with rock star instructors inside the mothership studios of Iyengar, Bikram, Hatha and Kundalini styles here. But for those searching for a truly unique experience, read on for our guide to alterna-yoga in Los Angeles.
Take advantage of the pleasant year-round weather and take a class outside. There’s nothing like doing tree pose under palm trees, surrounded by hummingbirds and the occasional stare of a groundhog. The instructors at Runyon Canyon Yoga have been offering three classes per day (paid by donation) for over ten years to a diverse bunch of students. All body types, levels and modes of dress welcome (some people roll up in jeans). Bring your own mat. Snacks and water available by donation on the honor system at base of the hill.
Best way to see the Hollywood Sign upside down? Try the Friday morning 8 a.m. class at Barnsdall Art Park, right in front of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. Offered by donation by actor/Yoga Journal cover model/longtime yoga instructor Lauren Peterson, it’s the best deal in town with a breathtaking view of the Hollywood Hills and Peterson’s dog Koko, who does downward facing dog at the end of every class on command—in Sanskrit!
Of course there’s plenty of waterside yoga, like the giant weekend classes offered by Beach Yoga with Brad and Friends or the Saturday gatherings held by Friends of the L.A. River, but for the extra challenge of yoga on the water, stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga may be just what the guru ordered. Yogaqua - “where the ocean is your mat” - leads group classes in Marina del Rey every weekend and offers private instruction by appointment. No worries if you’ve never been on a paddleboard. Founder/instructor Sarah Tiefenthaler is a lively guide who puts safety first.
Siesta Yoga sits right in the heart of Hollywood, ready with a wide variety of flow and alignment classes as well as a monthly modular sound bath. Brandee and Christian invite you to bask in the vibration of quartz crystal singing bowls, tuned to the key of your chakras. Candlelight flow classes, morning meditation, and various workshops make this a unique stop for anyone’s spiritual journey.
For those who want a little party with their poses, there’s Yoga & Wine, an ongoing class happening every first Saturday of the month at Yogaraj, a West L.A. studio with a plethora of innovative classes on their schedule. Try Om Shalom (which weaves Jewish prayer into the movement) or their Friday night sound baths (accompanied by gongs and singing bowls). Yogala, an Eastside location, also raises the good vibrations via gong relaxation classes, candlelight meditations and kirtans.
You can do a Cat Stretch (Marjaryasana) or Lion Pose (Simhasana) with an actual feline at ME-OM: Yoga With Adoptable Cats, a yoga class series sponsored by Best Friends Animal Society/No-Kill Los Angeles. For a $20 donation you get to mingle with furry spiritual masters while giving them a chance to socialize outside of their condos. Mats and snacks provided. The CatCafé Lounge also hosts weekly drop-in yoga classes. Check their website for schedule. Purrrfect.