An Unbiased Yogic Guide to San Francisco


Filed under: yoga, featured

I am an unbiased yogi with strong opinions towards different approaches to yoga as a personal practice and business. In this blog, which will be updated in occasion, I summarize the suggestions I have been giving to friends and travelers in San Francisco over the years. There are many ways of asking the same question and there is really just one question to answer, where can I take yoga classes? Both fortunately and unfortunately, I’ve always hesitated to give a simple answer. In a way, I don’t want to disappoint. Many Vinyasa seekers probably won’t be interested in taking a level-1 Iyengar class where much of the class is used to rearranging chairs and sticky mats. A Bikram enthusiast may scoff at my recommendation to other styles of yoga (and I have gotten my share of it so this is a fact). My general approach in answering this question is to first figure out the level and preferred style of the person, then make suggestions within her comfort zone. When I detect her air of approval, I further provide alternatives, which can be something of totally different style.

As an unbiased yogi, I find truth to different styles of yoga. After all, there is only one style of yoga, by the name of Patanjali. Every other style of yoga is an interpretation of Patanjali yoga by its creator.

The 7x7 square-mile San Francisco has plenty yoga studios and teachers. The biggest chain is Yoga Tree with eight studios in the city of San Francisco and one in Corte Madera, which is less than 20-minute North crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Yoga Tree also employs quite a few ‘celebrity teachers’: Jason Crandell, Janet Stone, Annie Carpenter (who recently moved here from Los Angeles), Pete Guinosso, and Darren Main. Google for ‘famous yoga teacher San Francisco’ if you want to find their information or other famous teachers I fail to mention here. If you go to their classes, you’ll likely be among many students, sometimes with TAs, and probably a decent practice. But this blog is not about the top x-number of yoga teachers you can’t miss in San Francisco.

There are many local favorites who have not quite made it to the cover of Yoga Journal and get invited to teach at major festivals and conferences. The bottom line is that every seasoned yogi has her favorites who may not be others favorites. For this exact reason, I omit some teachers that I enjoy and whose teachings resonate with me.

For travelers and newbies who would like to experiment without having to dish out $20 for a class, I recommend free or donation-based classes. For those who want to do a fun yoga workout, I recommend party style yoga with DJs. For yogis looking for serious practice, I point them to Iyengar. The list below reflects the general strategy I employ when making recommendations.

Teachers and Studios

In Party Mood

Free Classes

Donation-based Classes