Top Yoga Spots in San Francisco

Zoe Sullivan

San Francisco is one of the most forward-thinking, spiritual, and health-conscious cities in California. For this reason, the trend of contemporary yoga has flourished in the city, which boasts a plethora of stylistic avenues to practice the spiritual art. Whether you’re striving to align body and mind or just looking for an innovative new workout, these are some of the best places to practice yoga in San Francisco.

1. Yoga to the People

Yoga Studio

This ‘yoga collective’ holds true to its namesake – it offers no rules, no mandatory payment and an open, community-based spirit. Yoga to the People operates on a donation-based income and touts classes that are open to everyone, with a pronounced focus on practicing yoga with awareness. The brick walls, sprawling floor space, and mirror-less ambiance delicately enhance the relaxed, non-judgmental vibes of the studio. Classes are suited for all levels and follow a Vinyasa yoga style. The studio is set on the fifth floor of a building in the Mission district, providing a magnificent view of the San Francisco cityscape. Visit one of the Mission’s delectable restaurants afterwards to fuel up on energy post-yoga.

2. Yoga on the Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral

Cathedral, Church, Yoga Studio

At 6:15 p.m. on Tuesdays, this Episcopal cathedral, thought to be a site of international pilgrimage for regular church-goers and visitors alike, transforms into a spiritual center not only of the soul, but of the mind and body as well. Instructor Darren Main guides the group through a gentle and nurturing yoga rhythm, using a technique that encompasses a multi-level approach. One cannot help but feel a sense of spirituality while surrounded by De Rosen mosaics and sturdy stone pillars that exude a sense of peaceful sanctuary. While yoga itself is enhanced by tapping into a state of meditation, the labyrinth inscribed on the church floor is also said to initiate a state of meditation and reflection for those who walk its course. The class is donation-based and it is encouraged to wear warm, comfortable clothes, as the church can be quite cool inside. Be sure to remember to bring a mat with you to class.

3. Hiking Yoga

Yoga Studio

Hiking Yoga, San Francisco
© Seattle Yoga News/Flickr 
If you’re looking for a challenging and alternative way to experience yoga in the city, Hiking Yoga might be your best bet. Hiking yoga combines the exploratory elements of hiking to discover hidden spaces in the city with the integration of fresh air into breathe exercises. The drop-in classes are approximately 90 minutes long and vacillate between cardio-pumping uphill treks and centered, calm poses on the threshold of beautiful vistas. Hiking yoga is great for those who seek to add a social element to their practice, as participants are encouraged to chat and socialize with one another throughout the hiking portion of the practice. The group meets most Saturdays and Sundays in front of the ferry building under the clock tower at 9:50 a.m.

4. Body Temp Yoga

Yoga Studio

© Pixabay
For yoga practitioners seeking to engage the elements and push the boundaries of their practice, Body Temp Yoga offers heated sessions as well as sessions that incorporate weights. Body Temp Yoga offers warmth not only in practice but in their genuine approach to yoga that emphasizes compassion, fun, and equanimity. Heated sessions at Body Temp are set to 101 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not as high as typical Bikram classes, but definitely enough to relax your muscles and get your blood flowing. The studio’s innovative infrared heating system helps to get you sweating without the intensity of a higher heat setting, while promoting additional benefits such as detoxification, stress relief and glowing skin. If heated classes aren’t really your thing, the studio also offers a Yin class which is set at typical room temperature.

5. Union Yoga

Yoga Studio

Tapping into its location name and the Vedic Sanskrit literal meaning of yoga as ‘to unite,’ Union Yoga provides a variety of classes for those yearning to flow through Vinyasa. Union Yoga is the quintessential studio – with a humble and refreshing atmosphere that reflects the spirit of both the studio itself and the teachers who guide students to place of relaxation and ‘unity’ of body and mind. Sunlight gently reflects on the hardwood floors, providing an additional element of connection to the earth. Morning and evening classes are available, as well as private sessions.

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