The second most populous city in the United States, Los Angeles, has been a spearhead for the nation's film and television commerce, with countless classics stemming from the film studios that are looked down upon by the landmark Hollywood sign that sits upon the picturesque Californian hillsides.

The globally renowned City of Angels is associated with a love for the arts, its ethnic diversity, coupled with a happy-go-lucky culture. The city also possesses a wide range of established theaters, music centers, and art museums.

Not alone is the place associated with the arts. It is also home to major league sports teams from all five major leagues.

Often looked upon as a 'sports mecca', one doesn't receive such accolades without having an association with high-level performance and an emphasis on wellbeing and physical activity embedded within the culture.

So, how exactly has Los Angeles adapted and endorsed the various exercising principles and approaches that have arrived from different cultures and countries?

Well, it's fair to say that in LA, you are never too far away from either a general or distinctive form of yoga and meditational practice.

Such ancient practices have been performed for thousands of years and their popularity has swept across the United States. The practice of yoga has been endorsed throughout the city, whilst gaining a diverse audience in the process.

With multiple studios across the city, occupants of this wonderful state are never too far away to get in on the action. Yet, those living here are almost spoilt for choice, as this physical craze doesn't alone have to be performed in a structured studio.

Another worthwhile consideration is identifying which setting you prefer to exercise. Due to the City of Angels residing on the Southern Coast of California, the climate is beneficial for sun-seekers and beachgoers alike. It is possible to partake in a range of outdoor exercise classes, with various yoga techniques included.

The following article will aim to identify separate styles of yoga as well as looking into the possibilities that are out there across the city.

'Hollywood'
There are ample opportunities across the city to do yoga outdoors! (Source: Visualhunt)

Vinyasa Flow

For all the beginners, it is important to acknowledge that there isn't just one style of yoga to practice.

From Kundalini Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Hatha Yoga to Vinyasa Flow, there is a lot to understand before jumping straight in.

Firstly, Vinyasa Flow is a style of yoga created in the mid 20th Century, and it constitutes of stringing postures together with an emphasis on fluidity and seamless bodily movement. Referred to as 'flow', it requires the participants to manage their breathing to ensure effective practice.

This particular style is accredited with building strength through the repetition of movement.

Vinyasa Flow is accessible to participants of all levels of ability and experience, and it's not only accessible in The City of Angels. From New York to Philadelphia, Chicago to Houston, Vinyasa is a common practice across the country.

Top-tip: When booking yoga classes, find out if the class caters for a particular level of experience/proficiency.

 Hatha Yoga

With the literal term translating to 'force', Hatha Yoga adheres to a system of physical techniques.

The practice requires the participant to use the body, mind, and breath and it incorporates traditional meditational techniques within its practice.

What to Expect from a Hatha Yoga Class:

Classes generally last between 45 to 90 minutes and many can be found across the city.

It is considered a gentle yoga, and it involves some of the more traditional yoga poses, starting with a calm warm-up to ready the body for the session.

It can be practiced by those with varying experience levels and is segmented into three stages:

  • Gentle Breathing Exercises
  • A variation of yoga poses
  • A meditation moment to close the session.

Yoga in Santa Monica

From Bikram (hot studio) yoga to more traditionalist approaches, those in the Santa Monica area are truly spoilt for choice!

Santa Monica Yoga, situated on Ocean Park Boulevard, is a renowned spot for yoga enthusiasts. From live-streaming sessions (which can be completed from the comfort of your own home), to outdoor yoga classes and specialist sessions in their home studio means it's truly tailored for all.

As the demand is so high, walk-ins aren't advised, yet their website is easy enough to register for upcoming sessions.

Prices are listed on their website and new and existing attendees can even purchase training attire from the boutique session of their clothing line through the website!

Pre-warning: Don't be deterred by the advanced symbols which occupy the companies website, the slogan 'Yoga is for Everyone' means all are welcome - regardless of proficiency level and experience.

Yoga in the Sunshine

five students perform a yoga pose on the beach.
The beach is a popular destination to do yoga in LA. (Source: Visualhunt)

Similar to Boston, outdoor sporting activities are common in Los Angeles, and considering the idyllic weather and access to picturesque, 'Zen' like backdrops, why wouldn't it be?

Also, research has shown that taking activities like meditation and yoga into the outdoors can result in additional benefits, as the YogaJournal points out:

  1. Spending time in nature can restore depleted energy
  2. Natural scenery heightens awareness
  3. Practicing yoga outdoors can restore and even build confidence from exploring a new environment
  4. The outdoors can boost meditation benefits.

If you're a sun worshipper who enjoys getting their exercise fix down at the beach, then Beach Yoga So Cal may just be the place for you!

From Facebook live feeds to online classes, if you're struggling for the time to get down to the beach, there are multiple options to choose on their website.

Advertised as a yoga retreat in your own backyard, the lessons take place in the heart of Santa Monica where Ocean Park Boulevard meets the Ocean!

From drop-in classes to group sessions and even parties (that's right!), the lessons can be booked rather simply through their homepage and experience level and style of yoga are listed on their online calendar.

To get a good feel for Beach Yoga So Cal, check out the videos they have posted on their youtube channel that are also embedded on the homepage of the website.

Exercising The Mind, Body & Spirit

It is all too well acknowledging the growth in popularity of yoga across the United States, but understanding why it has become such a trend is vital before setting foot in a local studio.

Yoga is known to be an effective method for relieving stress and anxiety. With regular training, it can be a tool that can restore a sense of peace and contentment with the present, and this in itself is a huge draw for beginners.

Once a participant becomes comfortable performing poses independently (without the aid of a yoga instructor), yoga can be used as a tool to relieve immediate stress and tensions that may have been created from the external.

So, whether it was a particularly stressful day at work, or it was that long traffic jam to and from the mall, roll out that yoga mat and get to work on averting such troubles.

After time, the student will begin to experience changes physically.

Creating a yoga routine will help to improve the overall level of fitness, and many competitive athletes incorporate yoga within their training to assist in the development of increased flexibility, thus reducing the risk of injury.

In all, this ancient practice is considered a holistic healer, and if done so effectively and consistently, it can better overall mental health whilst increasing muscle mass and flexibility.

A female student performs a yoga pose.
If exercising in the great outdoors isn't to your liking, there are additional options to choose from. (Source: Visualhunt)

YogaWorks, a company that rose to prominence in 1987, prides itself on being one of the most popular destinations for yoga in LA, and, with over 17 studios across the city, it isn't hard to see why!

Each of the studios offers a breadth of different classes including Vinyasa and Hatha (as discussed in this article), Iyengar, Restorative, Ashtanga, and Kundalini.

The studios encompass most areas and suburbs within the city and a quick search on their homepage will reveal the closest and most convenient studios. Some of these areas include:

  • Koreatown
  • Pasadena
  • South Bay
  • Valencia
  • West Hollywood
  • Woodland Hills

Top Tip for Beginners

For some people, alternating yoga instructors and going to different studios/outdoor practices helps to freshen up their experience whilst getting their yoga fix!

However, several people like to establish a strong rapport with a specific teacher and continue their development under the teaching of the same instructor.

If you are the latter, then a top tip is to visit as many studios and outdoor classes to help capture the best experience. Instructors and gyms/studios usually offer a group of lessons over some time that students can sign up to!

Therefore, being exposed to the more experiences allows the student to choose the environment with which they are most comfortable!

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Christopher