Yoga for the Budget Traveler: Donation-based Yoga in the US

Travel Tips — By Lauren Quinn on September 3, 2009 at 7:44 am

Travel can be tough on the body. Your legs get cramped in the confines of coach; your back aches from standing in museums all day; your feet throb after tromping around town sight-seeing. You could have your travel pains massaged, soaked and otherwise pampered away at plush hotel spas, or you could do it the (very) old-fashioned way: yoga. And with a growing number of donation-based yoga studios sprouting up across the United States, downward-dogging for the American visitor just got a lot more budget-friendly.

The philosophy behind donation-based yoga is accessibility: making yoga available to all people, regardless of fitness level or finances. This makes for a refreshingly un-elitist and welcoming atmosphere, where you can loosen those stiff muscles without feeling ridiculous. A seemingly haphazard business model, studios of this type are gaining in popularity, for obvious economic reasons. Suggested donations range from $5-20, and drop-ins are always welcome. You can generally look for a well-situated tissue box to drop your dollars in.

Read on for a list of donation-based yoga locations in the United States.

Leader of the pack, Yoga to the People is based in New York City’s East Village, with satellite studios in Berkeley and, now, San Francisco’s Mission District. Classes are a mixed-level Power Vinyasa Flow, where the focus is on breath and body awareness. Instructors play music from their own iPods, everything from Joy Division to Nick Drake to Outkast. Perfect for the traveler, rental mats are available at a reasonable $2.

Los Angeles’ heavenly weather makes year-round yoga-in-the-park possible. The folks from fire dancing school Fire Groove host a daily outdoor yoga class, with an additional Sunset class during the summer months. Bring a mat or blanket, and Warrior 1 in the warm California sun.

Up the coast, Portland’s integrative-health-and-fitness-center-in-one Kaninga has added donation-based yoga classes to its repertoire of wellness. If that doesn’t get your Qi flowing, try a low-cost DaoZhen Body Work Clinic (phew!).

Always-funky Austin has gotten on board the donation train with the opening of Black Swan Yoga. Classes range from Power Yoga to Hatha Flow, and the convenient Downtown location means there’s no excuse for not busting a bridge pose in the Lone Star state.

In the windy city, Yogaview Division serves as Chicago’s only donation-based studio. Dead-center in the bustling Ukrainian Village neighborhood, the studio’s back patio makes for a wind-sheltered post-yoga kick-in spot. Classes are divided into three levels. Most fun? The whatever-goes Freedom Style class on Thursdays.

Venturing further off the beaten path? Donation-based yoga studios aren’t just a big-city thing anymore. Check out Yoga by Donation in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Rubber Soul in Athens, Georgia; and Yoga Energy Studio (YES) in St. Petersburg, Florida.

[Photos: Barefoot yoga: lululemon; city yoga: lululemon; beach yoga: Carnaval King 08, half dome yoga: lululemon, all Creative Commons]

Tags: America, Austin, Chicago, donation-based, fitness, Los Angeles, New York, portland, travel, United states, Vinyasa, yoga


  • Serge says:

    In Miami our studio, Synergy Yoga South Beach, is doing all classes by donation now. If you are in Miami next time, come practice with us. Here’s our website for more info.

    As the oldest Yoga studio in Miami Beach with a history of 15 years in yoga and healing arts we are now the first Donation Based Yoga studio in Florida.

    Our mission is to make Yoga, wellness and inner peace available, accessible and affordable to all.

    Offering over 50 scheduled classes per week of Yoga, Meditation and the Movement Arts, we are sure you will find a teacher and style that is suitable and enjoyable for you.

  • Divina Mcleary says:

    Grab a yoga mat and go! This is what I’m thinking about right now…


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