Deborah Crooks is a California-based writer, singer-songwriter and performer. She has…
When it comes to finding yoga in Los Angeles, it not so much about if or how, but about who and when. Yoga in Los Angeles is near ubiquitous. From traditional Iyengar to Ashtanga, Kundalini to Yin and newly patented approaches to asana, it’s easy to find yoga in Los Angeles to suit both your lifestyle and taste for established lineage. Likewise, famous yoga teachers are nearly as prevalent as Hollywood stars, with leading teachers such as Bryan Kest, Seane Corn and Gurmukh having made names for themselves as familiar to the ear as the forms of yoga they teach. And if you’re looking to be a teacher yourself, most established studios offer teacher trainings.
But it wasn’t always that way. The first seeds of yoga in Los Angeles were planted in 1925, when Yogananda first spoke at the Philharmonic Auditorium and subsequently established his global headquarters in California. Indra Devi, the first female (and Western) student of Krishnamacharya, opened a yoga studio in Hollywood in the late 1940s, teaching yoga to Hollywood stars of her day including Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo.
Yoga in Los Angeles has flourished ever since. Influenced by his wide range of yoga studies, including Vedanta, Sivananda, and Iyengar, Ganga White founded the influential Center for Yoga in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. In 1984, B.K.S Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles opened its doors, and continues to offer daily yoga classes in los angeles and teacher’s trainings in the Iyengar tradition. Another Krishnamacharya student, Pattabhi Jois, first taught in Southern California in the 1970s inspiring a host of Mysore-style Ashtanga classes.
Two of his former students Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller, founded Yoga Works in Los Angeles in 1987, opening their first studio in Santa Monica to harbor a full range of yoga styles, including Iyengar and Viniyoga as well as Ashtanga, becoming pioneers in their field in the process.
Under the guidance of Ezraty, Yoga Works’ groundbreaking Teacher’s Training fostered the diverse talents of leading instructors including Lisa Walford, Seane Corn, Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, and Vinnie Marino. More than 25 after its beginning, Yoga Works has grown into a national chain, and while under different management, it remains a leading light for yoga in Los Angeles. There are 23 Yoga Works studios in Southern California alone offering a full range of Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Anusara, Forrest Yoga and more.
Many Yoga Works’ alumni still teach or make workshop appearances at Yoga Works; many run their own LA based studios. Corne famously leads Off the Mat, Into the World, traveling the globe for conferences, workshops and humanitarian initiatives. When home in Southern California, she can be found teaching yoga in Los Angeles weekly at Exhale Spa. Exhale in Venice has a full yoga schedule in addition to its other fitness offerings. Rea now leads her Prana Flow® classes at the Exhale Center for Movement in Venice, which also offers a Prana Flow® Certification Program.
Santa Monica just may have the highest concentration of top-level yoga in Los Angeles Pioneering, influential and oft-traveling teacher Ana Forrest was based here for years before moving to Seattle. Forrest Yoga, which takes its name from the transformative approach to asana created by Ana on her own yogic path to healing, continues to be taught throughout LA. With roots in Ashtanga, Bryan Kest heads his exceedingly popular Power Yoga classes in Los Angeles at two Santa Monica Power Yoga studios. Home Simply Yoga boasts a green studio built on environmental sound principles and features privates and teachers trainings based on Ashtanga Yoga Therapy. Bruce Bair founded Santa Monica Yoga which offers classes form sunup to sundown. It’s possible to not only attend a Kundalini, Ashtanga, Anusara or Restorative yoga class at Yoga Glo in Santa Monica, but stream one from the comfort of your living room. Meanwhile, YogaHop pairs energizing vinyasa flow classes with hip-hop, rock and pop music. They have two locations in Santa Monica and Pasadena. South Pasadenan’s enjoy Anusara classes at bright and sunny Mission Street Yoga.
Meanwhile, several flourishing studios are dedicated to traditional Mysore-Style Ashtanga Yoga in Los Angeles: Ashtanga Yoga Nilayam and Ashtanga Yoga Los Angeles in Silver Lake, and OmKar108 Yoga in Culver City.
The wealth of options for yoga in Los Angeles hardly stops there. Golden Bridge, (CLOSED now) was led by the revered Gurmukh offers a full range of Kundalina instruction, from 4am Sadhana, late-morning pre-natal and evening restorative classes.
Controversial but nonetheless wildly popular in his own right, Bikram Choudhury’s Bikram Yoga World Headquarters are to be found on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, where you can take one of his trademark hot classes or complete your Bikram Yoga training to lead your own. Beach dwellers flock to a full range of beginner and advanced classes Harmony Yoga in Redondo Beach which West Hollywood residents hone their urban yoga skills at Rising Lotus Yoga serves Sherman Oaks with an extensive schedule of Iyengar, Flow, Meditation and ‘Yogacupuncture’ classes and workshops.
Tony Giuliani is popular for his advanced instruction at Yoga at the Raven, a sanctuary for the practitioner in Silver Lake. Another yoga teacher making a name for himself is Steven Earth Metz, who has synthesized his studies with Guru Singh, Shiva Rea, Pattabhi Jois, B.N.S. Iyengar and others to establish his Earth Power Yoga on Melrose Ave in Hollywood, which is at once athletic and meditative. Moksha Yoga LA on La Brea has its roots in Canada but has attracted a steady stream of So Cal yogis in search of its signature Moksha Hot Yoga classes as well as Yin offerings. Christine Burke and Gary McCleery, whose roots are in Jivamukti, founded Liberation Yoga in Los Angeles which offers a full range of hatha classes, from Iyengar to Anusara-inspired, for all levels of practitioner. Another studio dedicated to making yoga friendly to every body is Yoga at the Village in Glendale. A Place Called Home is a haven for youth in South Central Los Angeles and offers yoga classes four days a week. “Happy Yoga” author Steve Ross heads up Maha Yoga in Los Angeles on San Vicente, where students flock to his motivational and music filled classes. Dancing Shiva and Ayurveda on Beverly Blvd, offers hatha classes, detox yoga and a full Ayurvedic healing center.
Yoga Circle Downtown has been going strong since 1999 has a schedule that boasts a Happy Hour Series. Finally (though hardly exhaustively) Archway Yoga Studio is on a mission to “mission is to provide accessible, affordable, and unintimidating yoga classes to the locals of the Arts District and beyond.”
Given that it’s possible to take classes at all times, seven days a week, it’s important you have a yoga wardrobe. Many of the yoga studios mentioned in this article boast yoga boutiques and can take care of your yoga clothing and mat needs as well as well as instruction. It’s also easy to find yoga clothing in Los Angeles if you’re someone who prefers to separate your shopping from your sangha. Founded in Santa Monica in 1991, Hard Tail Forever’s soft, impeccably dyed yoga wear remains a favorite of dedicated yoginis in search of comfort and style. Canadian born company lululemon athletica has nine outlets in the greater LA area with items from their lines of active wear available in many in-studio stores. Divine Blessings sells its eco-friendly yoga wear in Marina Del Rey., while Lucy active wear has a retail shop in West Los Angeles. Shore Fit in Manhattan Beach sells a full array of fitness and active wear brands, including Beyond Yoga. Bright and light Electric Yoga wear is available throughout Los Angeles.
If you’re a beginner or visitor, it maybe hard to figure out where to start your practice of yoga Los Angeles. Many studios offer a first class free and beginner series’ so you can sample a variety of teachers and traditions to find what best suits your needs. The good news is you’ll have plenty of company on your quest.