Deborah Crooks is a California-based writer, singer-songwriter and performer. She has…
While perhaps less star-studded than the Southern California Yoga scene, the practice of yoga in San Francisco and its surrounding areas is equally vibrant and dynamic. The cornerstones of Asana lineage are represented by traditional Iyengar, Ashtanga and Sivananda communities and a host of thriving well-established studios offering a full-spectrum of class styles and levels that draw on both tradition and new forms. True to the city’s reputation for embracing diversity, yoga in San Francisco also makes room for those innovators who stretch bounds of tradition through AcroYoga, dance, and even naked yoga forms.
It isn’t a stretch to find Yoga in San Francisco in most every corner of the city as well as the North, East and South Bay. In fact, yoga practice is one of the first options available to visitors arriving to the city via San Francisco International Airport. The groundbreaking San Francisco Airport Yoga Room in Terminal 2 gives the option of practice between flights by providing travelers with a studio space equipped with mats and a handful of chairs.
The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre is one of earliest founded institutions for yoga in San Francisco. Founded by Swami Vishnu-devananda in 1957, it offers courses in yoga and meditation and runs a Sivananda Yoga Prison Outreach Program, which brings yoga to the incarcerated. The Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco‘s Noe Valley, is founded on the principles taught by Sri Swami Satchidananda, offering gentle classes, teacher trainings, class series’ that focus on equal parts pranayama, meditation and asana.
The teachings of B.K.S Iyengar are transmitted by a number of Certified Iyengar teachers in the Bay Area, the hub of which is the Iyengar Institute of San Francisco. The Institute has fostered a number of great teachers and dedicated practitioners to its many teacher trainings and advances studies programs, many of who have gone on to found successful studios of their own Iyengar flourishes in the North, East and South Bay as well: Certified Iyengar teacher Elise Miller co-runs and directs the Iyengar focuses California Yoga Center in Mountain View and now Palo Alto; Gini Savage co-founded and directs the Yoga Center of Marin and Donald Moyer founded The Yoga Room in Berkley in 1978.
Yoga Tree and Yoga Works are two of the larger yoga franchises in San Francisco with multiple locations. Yoga Tree was founded by Tim and Tara Dale in the late 1990s and now has seven San Francisco locations, including The Castro, Hayes Valley, The Mission, as well as Corta Madera (Marin County) and Berkeley, offering a full menu of vinyasa, hatha, Iyengar and Restorative classes, a 200- and 500-hour teacher’s trainings and a prenatal yoga program.
Established in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, Yoga Works‘ Northern California arm reaches all corners of the San Francisco Bay Area, including two locations in Marin, a handsome studio and boutique on Divisadero Street in San Francisco and the newest location in Walnut Creek. Again, a full spectrum of offerings ”” Ashtanga, Forrest Yoga, DanceWorks and Kids Yoga to name a few ”” ensures that every yogi who walks through its studio doors will likely find at least one class to their liking.
Steeped in deep Iyengar study, influential teacher Richard Rosen co-founded Piedmont Yoga Center in Oakland along with the very popular Rodney Yee. Rosen teaches asana and pranayama when he’s not penning books about practice; Yee maybe best known for his video series, and while he’s since relocated to New York, he still makes appearances at Piedmont Yoga. Former Ballet dancer and Yee student, Chris Hoskins draws on dance, Ashtanga Yoga, Personal Fitness Training and Viniyoga to run Studio Yoga 6 in Berkeley.
The Yoga Loft on Divisadero St in the Lower Haight, is a second floor oasis of Hatha and Iyengar yoga as well as Tai Chi. The Yoga Loft. Divisadero St, which runs across the city from the Bay to the Castro District, is somewhat of a yoga corridor, with more than one thriving studio along its route. The Mindful Body was created by Roy Bergman in 1994 to provide a one-stop shop for yoga practice and complimentary healing bodywork modalities. Class offering include Mysore-style Ashtanga as well as pre and post-natal, Hatha and Community yoga classes. Several other yoga studios in San Francisco are anchored by, if not dedicated to, a traditional morning Mysore program, including Yoga Garden (again on Divisadero) Mission Yoga and Mysore SF. In the East Bay, traditional Mysore-style yoga is found at Ashtanga Yoga Berkeley.
A slew of Bay Area teachers are making names for themselves as top sources for diverse interpretations of yoga in San Francisco. Janet Stone leads classes, trainings, immersions, workshops and retreats to share her take on Vinyasa yoga melding “awareness with movement, breath, heart, and humor.” Yogi and life coach Pete Chandonnet, who teaches privately and at Yoga Works, has a devoted following of his musical, Zen, Anusara and Vipassana inspired classes. Alice Joanou built on her extensive Ashtanga background study of the teachings of Krishnamcharya to found Loka Yoga in Oakland where she teaches in the vinyasa krama tradition.
Influenced by the teachings of Gurumayi, Richard Freeman and John Friend, Sienna Sherman is one of Yoga Tree’s popular teachers, leading classes based on “alignment, therapeutics, potent sequencing, mythology, and Tantra.” Medical Doctor turned passionate yoga teacher, Baxter Bell draws on his extensive medical background combined with his studies of the work of TKV Desikachar, Donald Moyer and training with Rodney Yee, Patricia Waldan and Erik Schiffmann to teach throughout the East Bay as well as direct the Deep Yoga Program at Piedmont Yoga Studio.
A host of other studios offer yoga in the East Bay. Namaste Yoga has steadily expanded from its Rockridge base to Grand Lake and Berkeley (in the former 7th Heaven space), becoming another force for yoga in the San Francisco Bay Area. Vinyasa Flow, Jivamukti, Iyengar and restorative yoga are just a sampling of the styles offered. Likewise, Berkeley Yoga, in Strawberry Creek Park, features two light-filled studios presenting Vinyasa, restorative, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Yin and Kundalini classes and workshop. And The Alameda Yoga Station makes practice accessible for those yogis living on the East Bay’s island of Alameda with its recent move to a mid-island location on Lincoln Ave.
As far as outfitting your yoga practice in San Francisco, lululemon has locations in the Marina District and Oakland, Prana just opened a San Francisco store on Fillmore St, and Yoga Works Divisadero and Larkspur boast extensive boutiques packed with numerous brands of yoga clothing.