When it comes to yoga, L.A's reputation precedes it. Ask any east coaster, and they'll tell you that we're a bunch of Lululemon-wearing, namaste-saying hippies who have jobs that allow us to practice Iyengar at 11:30 on Tuesday mornings.
And in some cases — like that of the freelance writer — they're not entirely wrong. But that doesn't mean we'll drop mat at just any old class; we're selective about who we let guide us into a nice, easy downward-facing dog. Here are the top ten studios in Los Angeles that we frequent:
10. The Yoga Collective
Once Santa Monica's biggest yoga studio, The Yoga Collective recently moved to Venice in order to offer a little Zen to the hugely overexerted beach community. The schedule of Hatha classes isn't as jam-packed as it once was, but classes are still offered late into the evening; the last session most days is from 8:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. 512 Rose Ave., Venice.
9. Bikram Yoga College of India
Some of us might feel that hot yoga is for masochists. But the truth is that a lot of people wouldn't have their practice any other way, and for that group — whoever you are — there's the granddaddy of hot yoga, Bikram Yoga College of India in West L.A. There, participants sweat their troubles away for an hour and a half in 105 degree heat. On purpose. 11500 W. Olympic Blvd., West L.A.
8. Black Dog
As is the custom for businesses located in the Valley, Black Dog Yoga can be found on the second floor of a strip mall near a frozen yogurt facility. Decorated in invigorating yet spiritual pinks and oranges, the quaint Sherman Oaks studio offers an impressively robust schedule — doors open at 4 a.m. on some days — and a wide range of class options including Hatha, flow and strength-building. 4454 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks.
7. Liberation Yoga
Stepping into Liberation Yoga on La Brea Avenue feels a whole lot like returning to the loving embrace of your old college dorm room. Rice paper lanterns dangle from the ceiling, curls of Nag Champa waft through the air, and the light remains dim and cocoon-like throughout the day. Classes are held both indoors and outdoors in a semi-enclosed garden area, so you can have the enlightening experience of communing with nature without having to camp or anything. 124 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles.
6. Runyon Canyon
Up at Runyon Canyon, the daily free yoga sessions double as a near-perfect reflection of L.A. life. Classes start at 8:45 a.m. during the week and 10:30 on weekends, per our city's average waking time. Students congregate nearly 365 days a year, complicit with sun in its promise to shine throughout the year. And the lack of fee is a nod to each and every one of our profound, beautiful, aspiring actor/singer/comedian friends. 2000 N. Fuller Ave., Hollywood.
5. Silver Lake Yoga
Nestled deep in the corner of Glendale Boulevard and Rowena Avenue, Silver Lake Yoga offers a calming retreat for those seeking some earnest mind-body awareness amidst a sea of ironic hipsterdom. In addition to yoga, the studio offers Pilates and a number of kids classes, the better to keep the wrist-tattooed among us from taking things too seriously — it is, after all, hard to remain cool while trying to coerce a three-year-old into pigeon pose. 2810 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake.
4. Urth Yoga
Adhering to the traditional ethos of the yogi lifestyle, Urth Yoga in Silver Lake emphasizes a sustainable and organic environment. Dolled up in recyclable, biodegradable decor made from natural materials, the studio offers classes that include relaxation sessions, as well as a multilingual option at least one day a week. 2809 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake.
3. City Yoga
A West Hollywood staple for over a decade, City Yoga's original location is a bright and sunny studio on Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The company opened up a second location in Studio City this year, and each offers programs for kids, as well as one of the best-known teacher-training programs in L.A. This is your spot if you're looking for no frills, reasonable prices and reliable teaching styles. 1067 N. Fairfax Ave., West Hollywood.
2. Golden Bridge Yoga
If you prefer to take your yoga with a hefty dose of spirituality, Golden Bridge Yoga in Hollywood will be your jam. Outfitted with heavy lanterns, saris and images of Buddha tacked up to the walls, the studio emphasizes Kundalini, which focuses on meditation and consciousness-raising. For those students who don't see conquering consumerism as part of the path to enlightenment, Golden Bridge also has a delightful store and cafe. 6322 DeLongpre Ave., Hollywood.
If yoga were to be taught at a factory (the good kind of factory; a happy yogic factory), it would look a lot like YogaWorks. The company has nine locations in the L.A. area, all streamlined and clean and painted in trademark spa-like light green and white. Most offer nearly 20 classes a day, churning out fully functioning yogis like trucks on a General Motors assembly line. 230 N. Larchmont Blvd., Larchmont.