The Best Yoga Class for Cheap: Santa Monica Power Yoga

— by Caroline on Crack

Balance by kk+ on Flickr

Several years ago, a friend turned me on to Santa Monica Power Yoga. “It’s on a donation-only basis and the classes are always crowded. You HAVE to take a class with Bryan. He’s the best.” Mind you, back then I had never done yoga before so everything was new to me. And it was sorta baptism by fire: the rented mats, the closed windows and steamy air from the student-generated heat, and 90 minutes of painfully held poses. But she was right, it was quite a satisfying workout. After the class I was in pain but in a good way.

I went with my friend twice before she said, “I don’t want you to go anymore, it makes me nervous.” I guess my turning red in the face and doing child’s pose for 70% of the class didn’t help.

Since then I’ve never returned but recently I keep hearing about it from many different people so now I’m considering giving it another chance. The yoga studio has now expanded to two studios (its new one is nearby on 2nd Street) because of its popularity. Unfortunately, because of said popularity, the star teacher, Bryan Kest, is hardly there to teach classes as he’s usually off traveling the world spreading the joy of yoga to other lands. Yet, there are so many instructors to choose from that you can’t go wrong taking a class here. If you don’t like the new agey approach of one, you might enjoy the spartan approach of another. It’s just trial and error until you find one that suits you.

The classes are offered in three levels:

  • Level 1-2: For anybody and everybody (for beginners)
  • Level 3-4: A private class where permission is needed prior to day of attendance (intermediate)
  • All Levels: For anybody and everybody

Yeah, I don’t really know what the difference is between Level 1-2 and All Levels.
    If you’re going for the first time, know that it’s best to arrive at least 30 minutes before class as a long line forms pretty quickly and you want to be able to stake out a spot before the room fills up. If anything, try taking a class during an off time rather than the popular times of right before and after work.

Things to bring:

  • A towel (you’ll be sweating buckets)
  • A yoga mat (or you can rent one at the studio for $2, but I strongly recommend bringing your own)
  • A 1.5-liter bottle of water (with the warm air and workout, you’ll need it)
  • Wear comfortable clothes, especially a form-fitting top so that your shirt won’t fall over your face when your torso is inverted for forward bends

As mentioned the fee is donation-only, but $11 is the recommended amount. After class everyone drops their money in the donation box by the door so no one is counting your money. And if you can’t donate $11 now, drop whatever amount you do have in the box and make up for it next time.

The class is quite a workout as you’re holding yoga poses and moving from one pose to another pretty quickly, which can be difficult for first-timers. Fortunately, the instructors and your classmates understand if you have to retreat to child’s pose (a resting posture) every now and then. Everyone here is of the mind that you should always listen to your body and never overexert yourself, always go at your own pace. Something I was doing and shouldn’t have felt bad for.

Enjoy, and Namaste!

SMPY East (Bryan’s studio)
522 Santa Monica Boulevard (Upstairs)
Santa Monica, California 90401

Class schedule

1410 2nd Street
Santa Monica, California 90401

Class schedule

Since parking is such a hassle around the Promenade, check here for nearby garages and their prices.