Monday, August 31, 2009

Affordable Yoga in Pittsburgh!

Yoga. Outdoors. Free or Just a Few Bucks. Seriously? Yuh-huh- right here in Pittsburgh! Visualize yoga-ing on a brilliant summer morning or evening on the cool grass, energizing the body, breathing deeply, practicing pratyahara (sense withdrawal) by tuning out the sounds of the city to find your own inner happy place. Just what we need to wash the grime of a hard day's vending away, or rid our lungs of fibers from a day of mad knitting!

Several days a week,
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Breathe Yoga Studio offer classes led by trained yoga teachers in various areas of the city. Classes are open to all levels of students, from beginner to advanced. Move your body and rejuvenate your spirit while getting a good soaking of Vitamin D!

Photo by Melissa McMasters
Stretch, strengthen, center, and breathe at FREE CLASSES hosted by
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy! At Schenley Plaza across from Oakland's Carnegie Library, teachers guide students through a full practice on the plaza lawn. Through the last weekend in August, take a Monday lunchtime yoga class at 12 noon from Pratique Yoga, or venture out on Saturday mornings at 10am for a class led by Candice Lain. Some days the classes are serenaded by local musicians. If the weather is iffy, classes may be held under the pavilion at the plaza. Limited mats will be available. (Thanks to Heidi Zelli of Pittsburgh Yoga Examiner for the photo and for tipping me off to these freebie classes.)

Through the end of September,
Breathe Yoga Studio offers $5 CLASSES on Saturdays from 10:30-11:30am at behind REI at Southside Works, and on Sundays at 9am at Grandview Park in Mount Washington.

On most Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm, catch a class in Frick Park near Squirrel Hill just off of Beechwood Blvd and Nicholson, otherwise known as Blue Slide Park. Into the Fall, instructor Linda Meacci leads yogis through a mindful, challenging class surrounded by trees, bird song, and community. Classes are by donation (suggested donation $7)! If there is anything more than lite rain, class will be cancelled. For more info, contact Linda at 412-427-4781 or

There are several organizations in the city with a specific mission to make yoga accessible to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Becky of Folding Space Yoga explains the "pay-what-you-can system" on her website, stating that students simply pay "whatever you can spare." Becky teaches regular, indoor classes open to all skill levels every Thursday night at 6pm at The Union Project in Highland Park. She also offers ongoing classes at Magee Recreation Center in Greenfield on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7pm.

Human Race Yoga holds regular classes for students based on the pay-what-you-can system, too, believing that everyone should have access to yoga "regardless of race, age, income, or education." They offer an ongoing beginners-level class at the Dormont Public Library on Tuesdays at 7pm, and an all-levels class on Thursdays at 7:30 right after Becky's class at The Union Project.
Check out these great opportunities to learn from compassionate teachers, and begin or grow your yoga practice at a cost anyone can afford!

Ahh... that post-yoga zone when the mind feels refreshed, the heart feels calm, and the body feels expansive and strong can be even more wonderful after a class under the glow of the sun and with the earth under our feet. And without depleting our pockets! Who could turn that down? But to make sure your practice fosters bliss rather than stress, it's important to come to class prepared.

Firstly, arrive early to get a good spot, and leave time for parking (especially in Oakland)! I've missed the beginning of several classes because I couldn't find a parking space. As the days can be very sunny and warm, put your sunscreen (water/sweat-proof) on and bring water to stay hydrated. Wear cool, unrestrictive clothing in lighter colors, and you may want to have a hat and sunglasses with you just in case the sun is too bright. Bring a mat if you have one, and/or a large towel as they tend to slip less (mats can become slippery on grass and from perspiration). I prefer to use my mat, sometimes on top of my towel- I always end up using my towel for something during class. I've found it helpful to bring an additional small towel or cloth for wiping away moisture from my body and my mat, and for covering my face if it's super sunny during sivasana (final relaxation).

A final pointer? Honor your body's limitations and don't push past your comfort zone. An asana (pose) should be comfortably challenging, not painful. If you have an injury, it's best to bring this to your teacher's attention before class, if possible, and don't be afraid to ask questions during class or after. Finally, keep it enjoyable!

Take advantage of these terrific yoga-tunities before the season ends! Hope to see you there. :)

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