Austin loves yoga. And why wouldn’t we? Inner peace, mind-clearing meditation, and a tighter booty? Sign me up.
Unfortunately, Austin – along with the rest of the country – loves yoga so much that we’re in the wake of another Starbucks situation.
Turn a corner (any corner) in Austin, and there sits a brand-new yoga studio, sometimes directly across from another studio. Walk in, and you’ll likely be blindsided by the cost of a single class, not to mention a month-long pass or yearly membership.
Yoga, like coffee, is something we can easily enjoy for next to nothing in the privacy of our own homes. And yet, we’re willing to pay extra for these daily-habits-turned-guilty-
But unlike our Starbucks/Coffee Bean/Thunderbird/Bouldin Creek/Cherrywood fixes, yoga is intended to calm us down and improve our health. Don’t let the sticker shock of certain studios yank you right out of your blissful savasana and send you straight into a panic attack because it doesn’t have to. Check out my list of free or donation-based yoga opportunities offered in this great city of ours. I have one (or two) options for every day of the week! Save your money for a cup of coffee after.
Lululemon just west of 6th and Lamar offers a free 60-minute vinyasa flow class every Monday from 7:30-8:30 PM. Classes are hosted by a different Austin studio each month (so you’ll get to experience a variety of instructors), and every class is geared toward all levels of yogis.
If you’re too tempted by the lure of the Lulu merchandise, head over to Palm Door at 401 Sabine Street instead. They also offer a free 60-minute class from 7:30-8:30 PM in their beautiful space usually used for weddings, parties, and other fancier shindigs.
Check out the new Practice Yoga off of East 6th on Tuesdays (or any day, since all classes here are donation-based). The studio prides itself on “absurdly high quality” yoga, and they’re not kidding. The instructors here are a mix from all over town and include the very well-respected Gioconda Parker, who leads national and international workshops in addition to teaching in Austin, and the incredibly lovable and spunky G’Nell Price. Other classes at Practice are led by Black Swan and Dharma Yoga vets, along with a few fresh-faced instructors eager to share their practice with you.
The lovely chandeliers adorning the space are an unexpectedly elegant touch.
Wind down in the middle of the week with a lighthearted class led by Stacie Hawkins. Classes are free and are held in the back space of Patagonia (yep, the outdoor clothing store) at 316 Congress Avenue from 6:30-7:30 PM. Stacie’s fun, all-levels vinyasa class will make you forget you’re refining your Warrior I among parkas and BPA-free water bottles.
Be sure to get there early, since there’s just enough space for around 12 people.
If you haven’t checked out Black Swan Yoga yet, it’s definitely worth a try. In the past few years, they’ve expanded beyond their original studio at 1114 W 5th to three other locations spread out across the city.
Black Swan features only donation-based classes, led by one of the widest varieties of instructors anywhere in Austin. My favorites are their Candle Flow or Candle Power classes, both of which are held at multiple locations at various times on Thursdays.
Start your weekend off on the right foot by making the trek down Mopac to SAY Om, located at the northeast corner of Slaughter and Mopac. On Fridays, SAY Om offers their only donation-based class from 4:45-5:45 PM. This vinyasa class is geared toward all levels and is a great way to cap off the work week and begin your weekend on a mindful note.
Several studios offer up free or donation-based classes on Saturdays. One of my favorites is the donation classes held at noon at Yoga Yoga South (1700 S Lamar) and Yoga Yoga North (2167 W Anderson). These classes are led by students currently undergoing teacher training at Yoga Yoga, and all donations benefit the non-profit Yoga Care Foundation. Side note: don’t miss the hot tea handed out after every class…so delicious!
Another Saturday option, if you’re up for it, is the donation-based class held at Pure Bikram Yoga in the Arbor Trails shopping center off William Cannon Drive. Class starts at 4:30 PM and lasts 90 minutes. The catch: the room is heated to a balmy 105 degrees, and the style of yoga is very unique. While this class isn’t for everyone, some feel the benefits of Bikram far outweigh any other style of yoga out there. Come ready to sweat with a mat, water, and a towel or two.
On Sunday, head over to Eastside Yoga at 1050 11th Street any time between 8:30 AM and 7:30 PM. All classes are donation-based on Sundays only and vary from “easy” classes such as mediation and Gayatri chanting to “mixed” effort classes such as hatha flow and Strengthen & Lengthen. With eight classes to choose from, you have no excuse for not fitting Eastside Yoga into your day.
Samantha Champion is an archaeologist at an environmental consulting firm in Austin. She moved here nearly nine years ago and can’t imagine living anywhere else. She currently lives in southwest Austin with her husband and two hound dogs.
What is your favorite yoga in Austin?
Cover photo via Flickr CC, courtesy of David Ingram.
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