Feeling stressed by the thought of the holiday season fast approaching? Stressed about money on top of that? Maybe you’ve been laid off or you’re just getting by as a student or underpaid worker bee.
If it’s crossed your mind that yoga might be just the ticket to help reduce that stress you’ve been feeling, you’re in luck because a growing number of affordable and even free yoga classes are now available all over Portland. Many yoga studios also offer discounts for seniors and students, as well as specials for newcomers such as three classes for $25 or less. Read on to learn about some of the best places to find budget classes—between $5 and $9 or by donation—but you will surely find others, including classes at community colleges, community centers and health clubs. Although you can find classes in most neighborhoods, Northeast and Southeast Portland have the most studios and the most options for affordable classes.
If you’ve tried yoga before but hesitate to give it another go because you think you’re too old, too large, too inflexible or too busy, visualize yourself relaxed, refreshed and breathing deeply at the end of your first class. Aah…. And if you’ve never set foot in a yoga class, this might be the perfect time.
The best way to get started? Check web sites to get a feel for some of the yoga studios described below. Consider trying a class or two at one or more places—an excellent way to see if a class and a teacher are a good fit for you. Many yoga studios now have detailed information on their web sites, including class descriptions that go well beyond “beginner” or “intermediate” as well as a weekly calendar of classes. Calendars typically provide links to instructor bios, which give you additional information to help choose classes. Unless you have a yoga mat, don’t forget to ask about mats before attending a class for the first time; some studios have a $1 day rental fee.
New this year, North Portland Yoga is off the beaten track but is being discovered by people in the neighborhood, says Lilith Rockett, who opened the studio with fellow teacher Wanna Cancam. It brings a breath of unexpected serenity to an old, mixed-use industrial building north of Lombard in Northeast Portland.
The studio’s weekly mix of 30 classes includes six with community class pricing: a sliding scale of $5-$12. Payment above $5 supports a studio scholarship fund. You can even save 10 percent by riding your bike to class 10 times. The most popular of the community classes is the Sunday evening Yoga for Triathletes class. The rationale for the community classes? “A consistent yoga practice makes such a difference in a person's life, so we want to make yoga available to everyone,” says Rockett.
Many of the 11 current teachers have had training in Anusara yoga, a school of hatha yoga, which unifies a life-affirming philosophy of intrinsic goodness with universal principles of alignment. Nationally known Anusara teachers lead occasional weekend workshops.
55 NE Farragut Street, #1
Portland, OR 97211
Just as yoga studios are focusing attention on community connections, so are churches. This inner Southeast Portland church in a leafy residential neighborhood began a yoga program in September and is working to spread the word about yoga as well as other classes and activities. Most of the yoga classes are offered on a drop-in basis, on a sliding scale of $5-$10. A new yoga class begins in December, as well as a Qi Gong class. An after-school kids and teens class begins in January.
Parish administrator Melissa Reeser says that St. David's offers yoga “as a way for people to connect to their bodies and minds, because in the words of St. Irenaeus, 'The glory of God is a human being fully alive.'” The church also hosts music classes and meetings of community organizations. Yoga teachers are welcome to inquire about adding new classes.
2800 SE Harrison Street
Portland, OR 97214
Sunset Yoga Center
Sunset Yoga, on the edge of Beaverton, is a 10-year-old Iyengar yoga studio where all nine teachers are trained in a particular style of yoga that focuses on the body’s natural alignment to promote healthy joints, bones and muscles. A sliding scale discount for students who need it, is available for classes purchased in a series, not for drop-in classes.
Slower-paced “gentle” classes are designed for students not ready to take a regular beginning class; students in these classes may have chronic health conditions or be recovering from an injury. A back care class focuses on yoga poses that help relieve back discomfort. Several special holiday workshops are scheduled for Thanksgiving and the month of December.
10200 SW Eastridge Street, #125
Portland, OR 97225
Yoga goes to church again, so to speak, at TaborSpace, a project of the 100-year-old Mount Tabor Presbyterian Church on Southeast Belmont at 55th. A large church building with a small number of parishioners led to the idea of filling underutilized space at the church with a nonprofit coffeehouse and rental space for concerts, classes (music, art, yoga and more) and offices. The idea took off.
Three yoga classes are scheduled weekly—drop-in and for all levels. The fee is $5-$10 sliding scale. Heidi Whipple, TaborSpace events/space manager, invites yoga teachers to contact her with proposals for new classes.
5441 SE Belmont
Portland, OR 97215
Lisa Mae Osborn and Diana Hulet opened this inner Southeast Portland yoga studio four years ago with the idea of providing yoga and meditation for people of any income level as a community service. Now there are close to 40 classes a week, with three that are free or by donation and seven $8 “Seva” classes. All classes are available on a drop-in basis. According to Osborn, some students take every free or donation class offered until their finances improves and then return to taking regular classes again.
Half-hour free meditation classes are offered Saturday and Sunday mornings and on one Sunday evening every month there is a kirtan—a high-energy Sanskrit singing event. Admission is by donation, with money raised going directly to an individual or organization in the community that’s in need. Special classes offered on a donation basis include three classes on Thanksgiving Day, with proceeds going to Sisters of the Road Café.
2500 SE 26th Avenue
Portland, OR 97202
Thirty yoga classes are scheduled weekly at this long-established yoga and meditation center in Laurelhurst formerly known as the Nityananda Institute. The reverential atmosphere here is the opposite of what you’d find at multi-city yoga businesses or at health clubs such as 24 Hour Fitness.
Drop-in Community Yoga classes for all levels are offered six days a week at $5 or whatever you can afford. Other classes for beginning and ongoing students are available for the best price with a five-class punch card ($55) that’s discounted for seniors ($41) and students ($47). Numerous specialty classes include Healing Yoga Practice, Seniors Only, Healthy Back Yoga, Pre-Natal Yoga. Meditation, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Ten of the 30 teachers are longtime Movement Center instructors.
1021 NE 33rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97232
Michelle Sarchiapone was one of the first Portland yoga teachers to commit her studio to making all classes as financially accessible as possible. Just over two years ago she opened a small studio at Northeast 31st and Alberta Street and set a $6 rate for drop-in classes at a time when $12 to $15 was the average. A year later, she moved to a larger space at Northeast 30th and Killingsworth. Today there are 11 teachers, 33 weekly classes of varying styles and levels, and an average monthly class attendance of 1,600. The drop-in class fee has increased to $8, but a class card can bring down the cost and there’s a scholarship fund, too.
The studio’s concept, Sarchiapone explains on the web site, is based on the social business model, “aiming to be financially self-sufficient, if not profitable, in pursuit of a social, ethical or environmental goal.” After covering expenses and paying teachers, profits are funneled back into the community. Current community programs consist of a scholarship fund for both students and teachers and partnerships with local nonprofits Street Yoga and Living Yoga to provide classes and programs for underserved populations with specific needs.
The scholarship fund is supported by a popular Saturday evening Moonlit Yoga class—with tea after yoga practice and live music once a month—as well as $5 from each three-month unlimited classes membership.
3016 NE Killingsworth
Portland, OR 97211
Yoga NW opened in June in Northwest Portland in a historic building that dates back to the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition held a stone’s throw away 105 years ago. Owner Sheila Schmid has taught yoga for 23 years, most recently at Friendly House, the nearby nonprofit neighborhood center and social service agency.
Wonderful Wednesdays!—with $5 classes all day— is one of her efforts to make yoga accessible to more people. A Saturday morning class is offered on a donation basis and two weekday morning classes are available at a reduced price for students who register for a series through Friendly House. On Friday nights, teacher Nick Manci, leads a popular One Breath Yoga Club, a candlelight class with contemporary music. All classes are suitable for all levels of students.
1901 NW 26th Avenue
Portland, OR 97210
Yoga Shala, a well-established yoga center with locations on North Williams and Southeast Division, offers classes on a drop-in or series basis, including a monthly Beginners Yoga Sampler at each location designed to introduce students to four yoga styles and four teachers. Cost varies depending on number of classes scheduled. The December Sampler begins December 6; the fee for six classes is $56. Other well-priced options include community drop-in classes at both locations for $8.
Browse the web site and you’ll find information on workshops, music events, childcare and class series, such as a four-week Yoga for Baristas & Restaurant People class at the North Williams location.
3808 N Williams Avenue
Portland, OR 97227
3249 SE Division
Portland, OR 97202
Note: Please stay tuned for a story looking at some of the many specialty yoga classes available in the city.