I have been to several yoga studios in LA but only recently decided to include them in my blog posts. There are so many fitness options in Los Angeles so if you are in the area, it’s very easy to keep up your workout routine or to try something new. Celebrities are also interested in these public studios so while I don’t review non-yoga studios, I will say that I had a very fun SoulCycle Survivor class in Hollywood where Vanessa Hudgens biked on the bike the instructor usually occupies and the teacher walked around the class instead.
I took a class with Danielle Zuccarelli (who was substituting for Travis Elliot.) The class wasn’t too packed (although it was the Thursday before Labor Day weekend,) and the practice offered a good mix of inspiration and “working out.” I found the class to be more basic. We also spent 10 minutes or so repeating Warrior I and the teacher did the “go ahead and repeat this sequence of poses for several minutes” thing, which some people don’t like.
1.) The teachers interweave in spiritual aspects of the practice
2.) They provide free mats
3.) Studio is next to lots of restaurants / centrally located in Venice Beach
1.) No showers; only one bathroom so can be annoying if you have to wait in line but you have a class that is about to start
2.) Studio space itself is old so the ventilation isn’t good; it gets warm in there but the air system isn’t as sophisticated as some newer hot yoga studios are so it can feel “stifling”
3.) The practice didn’t feel challenging enough for seasoned practitioners
Monkey Pose (a.k.a. splits) – Hanumanasana (Hanuman was the semidivine chief of an army of monkeys who served the god Rama. Hanuman once jumped in a single stride the distance between Southern India and Sri Lanka and this split-leg pose mimics that famous leap)
Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana (setu = dam, dike, bridge; bandha = lock; setubandha = the forming of a bridge, dam)
Working out in Japanese is a curious activity: If you are from a major city in the United States, you are used to people jogging on the sidewalks and seeing workout studios and gyms everywhere. With the exception of the path around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, you won’t find people exercising and working out. People generally get their exercise by walking to the subway or to their destinations so it was challenging for me to find yoga or exercise studios.
YogaJaya 2nd Floor, 1-25-11 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan, 105-0021
I didn’t actually get to take a class here but this was my first choice yoga class in the Ebisu neighborhood, mostly because of their English language website, large number of classes each day, and their easy to read Mind Body Online schedule. Having practiced yoga for almost a decade, I wanted to go to an “Experienced” level class because most beginner classes aren’t as interesting. I saw that on their website, they said you could not progress to higher levels without starting at level 1 as a part of their “BASEWORKS” leveling system. However, I dismissed that consideration, thinking that it would be fine and maybe “BASEWORKS” was another optional program that people signed up for. I was wrong; if you are new to this studio, they will not let you take anything but a level 1 class. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or if you are a yoga teacher–the Japanese are generally very rule abiding and don’t make exceptions so I was not able to get into this class. Because I got rejected from this class, I went on a quest to find other yoga studios in the Ebisu neighborhood.
Yoga Lava 〒150-0013 Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisu 壱 番館 2F, Tokyo, Japan
I think this studio is a chain since I have seen Yoga Lava studios in Singapore and several Yoga Lava studios in Japan during my Tokyo yoga Internet research. They offer exercise classes (which I am interpreting as Pilates,) and heated yoga classes. One thing I noticed is that people in Tokyo like their yoga classes hot. Yoga Lava is likely a female-only studio. Compared to the United States, Japan has very distinct gender roles and yoga is strictly a woman’s exercise; for example at the Sheraton Miyako, the yoga studio is inside the women’s locker room (so no men allowed) and the weight room is inside the men’s locker room (so no women allowed.) I didn’t practice at this studio since the next available class that day wasn’t a yoga class but it seemed like a nice studio and the ladies were very helpful and directed me to the next yoga studio.
Bali Hot Stone Yoga is the Equinox of hot yoga in Tokyo. The address listed above is one of their 3 yoga studio locations. I stopped by this one but their next class wasn’t a yoga class so I went to the Jinja location across the street near the Ebisu Shrine (this Allure location is on the 4th floor of a multi-purpose complex with restaurants at the bottom.) The studio has plenty of amenities including lockers, showers, towels, and you don’t need to bring your own yoga mat–the studio provides them although they are of cheap quality and slip on the floor (high quality yoga hasn’t really made it big in Tokyo yet, although there is a Lululemon in Shibuya and Manduka has a Japan website) but very few people actually wear brand name America yoga wear here. The coolest thing about this yoga studio is their hot stone floor; if you are into hot yoga, this is the studio for you, although you have to really like hot yoga because they heat the studio to 39 degrees C / 102.2 degrees F, 49% humidity. The studio was beautiful and the staff was wonderful, the issue I had with this studio was that while I went to an Intermediate Level class, the yoga was so basic that I didn’t feel like I got a workout at all, despite sweating profusely. The most advanced pose in this Intermediate class was Warrior II–there were no standing twists and instead, a lot of basic stretching. It was more like a spa experience than it was a workout experience. It’s important to note that there is a large women’s locker room but there isn’t a men’s locker room and there wasn’t a single man in the class (all the staff is female) so I don’t think men are allowed at this yoga establishment. All in, I recommend checking out this yoga studio if you are curious as to what yoga in Japan is like because it was taught 100% in Japanese and it has an amazing first-time drop-in rate of 1,000 JPY (equivalent to about $10 USD,) which includes a bottle of water; after that, it is 3,000 JPY / class.
The Yogi Bar Paseo de la Marina 3 | Local 7, Puerto Vallarta 48335
I was recently in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and decided to go to a local yoga studio to experience yoga in a different way. Major caveat: Everything in Puerto Vallarta is geared towards tourists–there are Americans everywhere and almost everyone speaks English. However, at the Yogi Bar, I was able to take a yoga class from Miguel who spoke half Spanish and half English throughout the class (plus the Sanskrit yoga poses.) This was the “international yoga” experience I wanted (I didn’t want to be led by a teacher who emigrated from the US.)
1.) Good teacher with extensive yoga experience (teacher was very flexible and emphasized flexibility as a part of the practice.)
2.) Conveniently located spot if you are staying in any of the hotels nearby; close to other restaurants/spas.
3.) Amazing prices ($5 US dollar/class is amazing); fresh juices and smoothies are both enormous and very reasonably priced at $3 US dollar/drink (about 70% cheaper than anything you will find in San Francisco.)
1.) There is a wide variety of experience levels in the class so it’s not as strong of a Vinyasa Flow as I would normally like.
2.) If you aren’t somewhat familiar with the basic Ashtanga yoga poses, then you might feel lost since the class is taught in English and Spanish. I personally really enjoyed this part of the practice but some novices may not.
Now if you can get on the water in Puerto Vallarta, the water is quite warm (by North American standards–I would guess 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit,) grab a standup paddle-board and try some yoga moves on it (it’s really hard to balance on the open ocean!)