Need a boost of vitamin D? Here are 9 outdoor yoga classes to try this winter in L.A.
It’s no secret that Angelenos can be smug about the weather, especially in the winter. And we’re justified in our smugness; while much of the country is hunkered down at home under a pile of blankets, we’re strolling down Sunset Boulevard in our T-shirts.
This perennially good weather has many perks, and we’re here to shine a light on one you maybe haven’t considered: year-round outdoor yoga classes.
L.A. is a yoga town and has been for quite some time. The city’s fascination with the ancient Indian practice can be traced back to Self-Realization Fellowship founder Paramahansa Yogananda, who popularized yoga in the West starting in the 1920s.
These days, there are hundreds of yoga studios across greater Los Angeles that offer all variations of the practice: Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Yin — you name it.
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I’ve always enjoyed yoga the most though, when I practice it outdoors. I find that natural scenery and the sensory cornucopia it offers — the wind rustling through the trees, the birds chirping, the sunshine warming my face — helps me to feel extra calm and focused.
In this guide, we bring you nine excellent options across L.A. for getting your flow on outside. With the exception of a few, almost all of these classes are donation only and pay-what-you-can. Yoga studio memberships are costly, and community classes make the practice more accessible for those who can’t afford to pay upward of $200 a month.
Los Angeles is a vast city brimming with outdoor yoga opportunities, so we only scratched the surface. But with this guide alone you could plan a week of yoga classes and never set foot inside a studio. Namaste.
Yoga in Griffith Park
On Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, Phillips leads her students through a gentle Vinyasa flow that works well for seasoned yogis and beginners alike. Her energy is serene and genuine. She started offering the Griffith Park class a few years back when she moved to the area from her home state of Indiana.
“This is my West Coast community,” Phillips told me. The class definitely had that feel. At least two dozen people were there when I went, their yoga mats resting on a soft bed of pine needles.
When: Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. Exact times vary based on the season (check for updated times).
Cost: Pay what you can.
Yoga at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
For the organizers of community yoga in Hollywood Forever, the venue makes perfect sense: “In Buddhist and Hindu teachings, the graveyard, or charnal grounds, is an auspicious place of practice where yogis must confront our mortal destiny, our fear of death, and our aversion to constant change,” they write on the cemetery’s website.
Personally, I appreciated the Kundalini yoga class held on a warm Thursday morning along the edges of a reflecting pool flanked by masoleums. It was my first time doing Kundalini yoga and instructor Jay Moton made the poses, breath-work and chanting less intimidating for a novice like me. Moton incorporates incense and music into his class, which is certainly pleasant for many people but could present some challenges for sensory-sensitive folks.
Hollywood Forever has donation-based yoga classes at the Fairbanks Lawn every day of the week, including silent disco(!) yoga.
When: Mornings, mostly. Check out the schedule here.
Cost: Pay what you can.
Stand-up paddleboard yoga on the Westside
An instructor will give you a brief paddleboarding lesson while you explore the placid lagoon of Mother’s Beach (in other words, no waves here!). You’ll then drop an anchor for your Vinyasa flow. I’d never been paddleboarding before, let alone tried SUP yoga, and I found it easier than I expected — and really fun. Corpse pose was particularly enjoyable as I let my hands flop into the cold water, the warm sun hitting my face.
When: Throughout the week, mornings and afternoons. Check out YOGAqua’s schedule here.
Cost: $44 a session.
Yoga in Elysian Park
Now you can find him there every Saturday and Sunday morning, guiding locals through a strength-building Vinyasa flow. I felt like I got a workout in Steven’s class without it moving too fast (a sweet spot for me). I could hear birds warbling in the jacaranda tree above me. It’s a peaceful spot, and you might even meet a few neighbors there.
Elysian Park is big, so check out Steven’s Meetup page for detailed instructions on how to get there.
When: 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Cost: Pay what you can.
Yoga at Norman O. Houston Park in Baldwin Hills
“I do it because I love it,” Rhabb told me. “There’s something about seeing how helpful it is for people and giving them an outlet.”
Rhabb sets up every Saturday morning under a few shade trees. Her teaching style is friendly and gentle. I got a real workout from the Vinyasa flow, but I also felt serene and buoyant after — which is to say, exactly what I want from a yoga class.
When: 11 a.m. Saturdays
Cost: Pay what you can.
'Yoga on the Mountain' in Calabasas
True to the practice of Kundalini, this class incorporates intentional breath work, chanting and selective pressurization of certain areas of the body, like the forehead or stomach, all under a canopy of sycamore trees. Geer and Thiry play live acoustic instruments at the end of the class, making it an extra special experience.
The class is co-sponsored by the National Park Service and Western National Parks Assn. and is free, but you’ll want to sign up ahead of time on Eventbrite (there were dozens of people there when I went in October). Afterward, you can wander the grounds of King Gillette Ranch, which is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
When: 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. last Saturday of each month
Yoga in Runyon Canyon
Overberger’s been running the class in a fenced-in children’s play area at the Fuller Avenue entrance of Runyon for 18 years now. He’s an attentive and hands-on instructor, and will politely adjust you (with your consent) as you move through your Vinyasa flow. During the class you’re bound to overhear the gossip of passersby and someone talking to their agent. This is Hollywood, after all.
When: 10:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Cost: The class is donation only, with a $5 suggested fee.
Yoga in South Pasadena's Garfield Park
Chu calls her class an “intuitive approach to yoga that caters to the community.” She asks everyone about what’s going on in their bodies and what could use some support, and tailors each class to those needs. Sometimes it’s restorative, sometimes it’s Yin and meditation, and other times it’s focused on power and Vinyasa. Chu incorporated the use of resistance bands into the class I attended, and my arms were sore the next day.
When: Saturday and Sunday mornings, Tuesday afternoons, Thursday mornings and afternoons. Exact times may vary based on the season. Check Kathy’s schedule here.
Rooftop yoga in Koreatown
If you’re into smaller classes with sweeping views of the city, Stock’s Wednesday night class is for you. When I went, there were six students total. The sun was setting, casting a soft pink sky over Koreatown, and there was a pleasant autumnal chill in the air. Stock led us through a Vinyasa flow that got our blood pumping but was still accessible for beginners.
When: Wednesday evenings. Start time varies based on season.
Cost: $20. Buy tickets here on Eventbrite.
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