In business for 20 years, Santa Barbara Yoga Center boasts diverse instructors who shepherd students through more than 100 weekly classes in styles stretching from Anusara to Iyengar to Ashtanga. Each instructor channels a passion for tranquility through beginner- and advanced-level sessions, fitness-oriented classes, and specialized instruction for soon-to-be mothers, athletes, seniors, and those suffering from injuries. After the deep breathing and mantras of meditative Kundalini sessions, students emerge centered and better calibrated to weigh the souls of others. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Peak Performance yoga classes mold and fortify the physique through a mix of Vinyasa and strength training. As a bonus, Groupon holders will receive a 10 percent discount if they purchase an additional class series within one week after their month of classes.
Yasa Yoga’s name comes from the Sanskrit words for “good-hearted,” a reflection of the studio’s noncompetitive, welcoming community of yogis and instructors. They gather to practice in a red-tiled, Mission-style building originally constructed in 1912. Husband-and-wife duo Ryan and Stephanie Besler lead a majority of the classes, accommodating students of all skill levels with a variety of yoga styles. During Yasa Basics classes, students absorb foundational yoga poses and breathing techniques in a naturally lit practice space with 20-foot arched ceilings. Yasa Flow yoga instructors crank up the room temperature to bolster flexibility and teach challenging, inverted moves during workouts suited to intermediate stretchers. Students also gather inside the building—Charlie Chaplin’s former home and production studio—for a variety of other classes such as prenatal, deep-stretch, and flow-style sessions.
Though each course strengthens core muscles and focuses the brain, students also calm their minds with meditation or revel in the camaraderie of like-minded classmates as they learn to control their breathing or tendency to constantly blurt out their credit-card numbers.
Source Yoga's intimate class sizes and wide array of offerings for every ability level ensure a personalized yogic experience. Ninety-minute sessions, such as Yoga Basics and Gentle Yoga employ doable postures to improve strength and flexibility. Assorted Vinyasa disciplines forge a harmonious marriage between rhythmic breaths and flowing moves, and a one-hour Yoga Fitness course dials up heart speed, allowing full-body conditioning for races with heartless tin men. Precision posing forms the basis for Iyengar-style classes, which use props for both support and muscle training. The studio also caters to kiddo-size energy stores with children's yoga lessons, cultivating uncanny abilities to karmically attract every dessert at the lunch table.
At Bikram Yoga Santa Barbara, instructors, each of whom was personally certified by Bikram yoga’s eponymous founder Bikram Choudhury, guide students through 26 classic poses in 105-degree heat. The patient teachers accommodate yogis of all skill levels, modifying poses and offering corrections during each class’ 90 minutes of sitting, standing, balancing, and core-strengthening. The sultry heat of the practice space helps melt muscles to make limbs more pliable while summoning sweat, boosting blood flow, detoxifying the body, and soothing soreness from injuries, stress, and overzealous hokey pokeys. To facilitate healing of the body and spirit, students may visit the studio's wellness center, where Shems Heartwell clears energy pathways with Qi Gong, acupuncture, and life-coaching sessions.
Lisa Babiuk spent 20 years getting clients into shape before discovering yoga held the complete package for her. In addition to healthily strengthening the body and increasing flexibility, she uses yoga because it’s fun. When speaking of exercise, she says, “We need it for our soul, too. If it isn’t fun, you won’t go back.”
She and her staff impart their light-hearted yet dedicated approach to yoga in classes seven days a week. They teach in dual studios under one roof, with one studio specifically engineered to host hot yoga classes.