Finding a yoga “home” in Santa Barbara

Last night’s private yoga sesh followed by farmer’s market dinner in the treehouse just blocks from Mesa beach. Magical. Photo cred: Anelise Salvo, Design Loves Company.

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Ommmmmmm-mazing! Photo cred: Anelise Salvo, Design Loves Company

Santa Barbara has some really great yoga studios it’s hard to choose just one. I like to bounce around between them and discover the classes and teachers I most resonate with— finding just the right match for how I’m feeling that day and what my intentions are for practicing— some days I just need a good sweat, and others I need some gentle, restorative love. Last night I had a private yoga sesh with a dear amazing friend Anelise (Annie), check her out on Design Loves Company, who is training to become a yoga teacher. I hadn’t practiced for nearly two weeks and this class felt like bliss, with each twist and breath I thought to myself: I need more yoga in my life! And of course, as the universe always collides in our favor, although at times we don’t feel like it is, or we don’t understand why things are unfolding the way they are, we come to realize days, months, even years later that the universe was indeed on our side the entire journey, I found out how to get more yoga in my life— for free! A new yoga studio in town, Divinitree, is offering free yoga for 30 days! Entirely free— zip, zero, nada, no strings attached. Santa Barbara friends, sign up quick! I’ve signed up for over 20 classes— kundalini, power vinyasa, eclectic flow, soul shine yoga, and yin & yang. I’m so excited to support a new studio, to practice (and for free—can’t get much better than that!), and to recenter and realign again through yoga.

The skinny on yoga studios in town:

If I had to choose a favorite, or recommend one studio to an out-of-towner, I would say Yoga Soup. This is a studio where you step in the door and you immediately know you are in the right place. You are greeted by radiant smiling faces, farmer’s market fresh carrots & chickpeas, and a mindfulness intention/prayer table where you can leave notes for yourself or for others. If it’s your first time or your hundredth time through the door you feel like part of the community. This studio offers over 100 classes each week and hosts some really cool events, like the Vagina Monologues and NECTAR performances. Plus, Eddie, the owner of the studio, has a great donation-based class “Yoga Soup” (practically offered every day!) that every yogi must go to at least once in their lives. It’s a lot of talking, a lot of holding poses and staying still, coupled with some ecstatic dancing and loud music. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s worth a go.

Another great studio in town is Santa Barbara Yoga Center. It’s been around for twenty years and I think it’s one of the older, if not oldest, yoga studio in town. And by old I don’t mean decrepit or outdated, I mean deep-seeded in our community with some long time, dedicated followers. The big yellow building is beautiful, the class selection is great, and I haven’t found any class that’s been too packed. There always seems to be enough room to explore and feel free on your mat, not preoccupied with worry about bumping into the yogi next to you. I’m partial to this studio because I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences here—in fact, I’ve taken one of my favorite classes ever here with Anne Van de Water. The Wednesday night crystal bowl sound healing is worth checking out, as well as the “Asana and Beyond!” class.

Other studios are great, like Source Yoga, which is where I first started to get really serious with my practice. It’s a smaller studio tucked away in a one-room location in downtown Santa Barbara. There are less frills with this studio, but they offer incredible, incredible ashtanga classes. Also, there are usually about six to eight people in any given class which means extra attention from the teacher and more space to practice. A win-win situation. Another studio in town, Yasa Yoga, is great, especially for a hot, sweaty vinyasa flow class. I know I will always get a good workout here.  The space is also really cool and they’ve just opened up a second studio room and are offering more and more classes. My only gripe is that they offer GroupOn deals all the time so classes are flooded with new students and thus you are oftentimes lined up like sardines to accommodate everyone. But, with that said, the flow classes are worth it if flow is what you’re in need of that day.

Other studios in town like Bikram Yoga S.B. and Iyengar Yoga Studio of S.B. are great specialty studios. There’s also Power of Your Om which offers hot yoga classes— not Bikram hot—but hot. It’s owned by a triathlete who will kick your booty with a thousand chaturangas and squats every single class. I went to a New Year’s class here and we all held a wide-stanced squat while we circled the room and shared our resolutions and intentions for 2012. Another hot yoga studio in town, Mesa Hot Yoga SB, recently opened. I’ve never been so can’t vouch either way, but I’ve heard it’s worth a visit. I’m happy that a studio opened up in Goleta, it’s called Better Days Yoga and features some of my favorite teachers in town. Again, I haven’t made my yoga trek out to the Goodland yet, so I can’t officially vouch for the studio, but I am totally stoked to check it out soon. Things in the Goodland are just a bit more relaxed and low-key, so I’m hoping the studio reflects that as well. Santa Barbara is also home of White Lotus Foundation, a world-renown retreat center. It’s a bit pricey for my means, but I’ve heard it’s ommmm-mazing!

Tonight, I am checking out my first class at YussaYog which offers yoga classes with ropes. I’ve never done this before, so wish me luck!

Sending my love and gratitude to all the yogis out there— if you ever find yourself in Santa Barbara I hope you will feel at home in one of our studios.

Namaste. Sat Nam.

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