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Bay area yoga deals and steals

Tim Thompson, director of Monkey Yoga Shala in Oakland, strikes a pose. The local studio offers an introductory rate of $20 for 14 days of unlimited classes in its 1200 square foot yoga space. (Emily Songster/Tim Thompson)

Yoga is supposed to be relaxing. While students pose in a yoga class, the teacher may tell the class to stop thinking. She may tell them to let the pressure of life drop away; stop worrying about school, work and money.

Money? That may be a harder worry to stop thinking about.

Teachers regularly repeat and regurgitate the yogi philosophy and lifestyle as people perform pose after pose in hardwood floored, candle-lit, Nag Champa incense filled studios. And while yogis may appreciate much of this spiritual lifestyle, it can be hard to let go of outside worries and finance induced stress when just one class can often run nearly $20.

So how can Mills students get the best yoga offered while paying fair but not obscene amounts of money for it?

Yoga studios all over the East Bay have stumbled upon a new way of getting more students into their studios: new member specials. These introductory offers allow people to take yoga classes for as little as one dollar per day for unlimited classes.

Plus, yoga studios all over offer deals to members where regulars can get discounted classes.

Loka Yoga in Oakland offers a free introductory class for newcomers. After, the studio’s rates are five classes for $70.00, 10 classes for $120 or 20 classes for $220.

Loka Yoga instructor Alice Joanou said not only does the complimentary class allow people to get a feel for the studio, it may draw in more prospective clients as well.

“You just walk in and it’s just a nice way to get introduced,” Joanou said. “It works out. With that kind of feeling of good will, I think we have more people interested.”

Creative writing major Veronica Phillipsborn tested out Loka Yoga in Oakland a while back when the studio was offering an introductory rate of three classes for $15. The senior said despite the low cost, the classes are high in quality.

“The teacher is super nice and accommodating,” Phillipsborn said. “And even with a new class, she called everyone by name and took the time to correct newcomers as well.”

For students who want to break a sweat without breaking the bank, Yoga College of India Oakland offers newcomers 10 days of unlimited Bikram yoga for $10. After the introductory first ten days, their normal drop-in rate is $15, a 10 class card for $100 and a variety of other offers.

Bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures performed in a room heated to an average of around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Yoga College of India Oakland’s 3000 square foot studio can hold up to 35 sweaty stretchers at a time.

Yoga College of India Oaklan’ds director Tony Carr said he started offering the introductory rate to keep up with other local yoga businesses.

“I started that in 2002,” Carr said. “I started it because the competition was doing it.”

Not into all of that sweat? Monkey Yoga Shala in Lake Merritt offers a variety of yoga practices including Vinyasa and postnatal yoga at $20 for two trials weeks. After the two week trial, their drop-in rate is $15, or four classes for $48 or twelve classes for $120.

Monkey Yoga Shala instructor Tim Thompson said he found that the discounted entry rate helps people decide if the 1200 square foot yoga studio is a good fit or not.

“How long does it really take to know if you really like something?” Thompson said. “Five times? 1o times? I think it only takes five times.”

So it really isn’t too difficult to find reasonably-priced yoga in the East Bay. And with so many offers for newcomers, it’s easy to test the waters and see what fits best.

Studios & Specials:

A. Loka Yoga, 2701 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland: first class is free

B. Yoga College of India Oakland, 478 Santa Clara Avenue, Oakland: $10 for 10 days of unlimited classes.

C. Monkey Yoga Shala, 3215 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland: $20 for 14 days of unlimited classes.

D. Flying Yoga, 4308 Telegraph Ave., Oakland: $20 for 7 days of unlimited classes.

E. Namaste Yoga, 3229 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland and 5416 College Ave., Oakland,: $30 for 3 classes.

F. Mountain Yoga, 2071 Antioch Court, Oakland: $25 for 3 classes.

G. Yoga Mandala, 2807 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley: $30 for 3 classes.