Photo courtesy lulumonatheltica on flickr.
Yoga is good for your body and soul, but getting that ‘om’ face can get expensive, so it’s helpful to know what your options are for learning and practicing yoga on the cheap.  If it works for you, you can get yoga instruction and practice for free, but one thing you will need to buy is a mat.  The poses require that you have firm, non-slip contact for your hands and feet.  But it only takes a little bit of homework to find a mat for under $20.  Check your local thrift store for mats, taking care to gently clean and disinfect it before use, and regularly cleaning it between uses thereafter.

For free instruction, head to your local library and check out what kind of yoga dvds they have.  It can be difficult to learn how to do the poses properly and in a fluid motion, so a book about yoga may be inadequate.  You can check online through your county’s library system to see what yoga dvd titles are available and which branches have them.  Many counties will allow you to reserve a title or will transfer it to the library closest to you.  To keep your yoga workout from becoming boring, and to keep from neglecting muscles or areas of your body, check out a new yoga dvd every few weeks.

More and more people have a DVR in the home, and this is a very useful tool for the frugal budding yogi.  Fit TV offers the series Namaste Yoga by Kate Potter, with a wide range of poses and combinations, and if you record the shows, you can combine shows as you build your workout length and difficulty.  Also available is Kundalini Yoga, which is a gentler show, and focuses on working with the chakras.  With a little personal creativity one could craft a serious workout in the privacy of the home.

If going your own way just isn’t your way, however, then you need a good deal at a gym or a yoga studio.  Most chain gyms, such as Bally’s and 24 Hour Fitness, offer a wide variety of yoga classes.  Bodies in Motion, a chain unique to California and Hawaii, even offers 5 different kinds of yoga throughout the week at some clubs, allowing you to experiment with different disciplines.  The trick is that most of us sign up for the gyms with long term contracts, then don’t go.  Once you’re locked into a contract, you’re stuck paying for the length of the contract.  The contract functions like a loan!  It’s only a savings if you’re going to stick with the gym you’ve signed up with.  If you want the ability to go to any gym instead of just your “home” gym, it’ll cost you.  Also, these “all purpose” gyms have a lot of distractions and a whole bunch of people.  If you have the ability to put on imaginary blinders and can focus your way past the mini shops to get to the yoga class, then this might be a good choice for you.  Make sure you’re the type who can commit.  If you are, you’ll find a lot of good deals right now; many gyms are struggling with declining memberships and so prices are dipping lower and lower.

Finally, if you’re ready to move on from your DVR, or you’re the type of person who benefits from working in a class, but you don’t care for the hustle and bustle of a large gym, you may like a yoga studio the best.  There are many to choose from in Southern California offering hundreds of styles and disciplines, so it’s likely you’ll find the right studio for you without traveling too far.  Many yoga studios, like Yoga World Studio, with locations in Long Beach and Orange County, offer flat rates for unlimited attendance of classes within a month, quarter, or more.  With many classes each day at different times, and classes every day of the week, this makes it easier for folks who need to be flexible in their schedules.  Ja Yoga has a new student special, allowing you unlimited access your first month for only $40.  No other yoga studio in the area offers unlimited monthly use at that price.  Ja Yoga also offers several different styles of yoga practice, depending on your ability and sense of adventure, and well-qualified instructors with years of experience and practice.  Another option is donation-based yoga.  Some centers, like Svastha Health Yoga and Ayurveda Community Center, offer yoga classes and more on a donation basis.  The theory is that when you’re up financially, you’ll contribute more, so that when you’re down, or for the less fortunate around you, you can contribute less, but still take advantage of the professional instructors and services offered.  You can also take the hybrid approach, and combine practice at home with small class instruction.

Some yoga instructors, like Crystal Dawn who works in Long Beach and the surrounding communities, also offer semi-private instruction. Crystal not only works at the Svastha Heath Center, but she also teaches a once-weekly class on Fridays at Practical Magicka, in Bellflower.  Four classes costs $20, and classes are very small, usually numbering less than four people per session, and lasting over an hour.  This is a fantastic way to make adjustments to poses to get the most out of a stretch, and then take what you’ve learned home.

The yogi in you will thrive as you practice the poses and chase inner peace.  Your wallet will thank you as you explore the frugal choices around you.

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