Stepping into Ja Yoga feels almost like stepping into a jungle paradise, with plants spilling from their pots and energizing sunshine streaming in from a floor-to-ceiling window. It is within this relaxing space that Ja Yoga’s seven instructors, led by owner Mic Ja, teach three levels of classes: relaxing beginning classes, strengthening intermediate classes, and rigorous advanced classes. To offer their client's a range of options and class times, they hold classes 27 times per week in the bamboo-floored studios.
Gabriel Hall, owner of Yoga World Studios, discovered yoga at the age of 19 while pursuing his degree in philosophy. Dr. Allen Arnette—already the clinical director of the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Department—began studying yoga as a way of researching the role mental well-being plays in healing physical ailments. Katherine Ostrout studied dance science at Cal State Long Beach and turned to Pilates after a ballet injury laid her low. These three weave their diverse backgrounds into the rich tapestry of talent made up by Yoga World’s team of yogis.
Having studied extensively in particular schools of yoga, instructors bring their individual training into the studio, focusing on disciplines that range from the physically challenging to mentally reflective, and include Iyengar, Ashtanga, Viniyoga, and Anusara. In addition to their regular yoga lessons, the Yoga World team also leads mat-Pilates classes, workshops, and private instruction. They use the art of yoga for healing in one-on-one sessions of Thai yoga therapy, which blends shiatsu massage with acupressure, or they coordinate beachside retreats full of yoga, surfing, and yoga-surfing.
The instructors at FreeSpirit Yoga lead a variety of classes that keep pace with students of all experience levels, from beginning yogis to 4-year-old kids already well versed in stretching toward the cupboards. In introductory-level sessions, teachers impart the simple poses and breathing techniques that springboard into higher-level disciplines, such as Sculpt n’ Core's blend of Pilates and strength training. An intense cardio workout set to Latin-inspired beats, Zumba sets hearts thumping and legs moving atop the studio's hardwood floors surrounded by lavender walls.
Kava Yoga's certified instructors sprinkle elements of Ayurveda into every class and workshop while helping yoginis of all flexibility levels balance the mind, the body, and the spirit. Selecting from an expansive schedule sorted by skill level, novices can build balance in a Flow 1 class, filled with breathing exercises and basic stretches, or try a Hatha 2 class, which challenges seasoned body benders, teaching them to arrange their chakras in alphabetical order. Gentle restorative yoga's soft music helps beginners to ease into yoga with candles lit along the studio wall, a practice that can be recreated more effectively at home with an aromatherapy candle than by filling the fireplace with air fresheners.
Outside We Love Yoga’s salmon and teal façade, the quiet sounds of soft music and chanting penetrate the world’s regular veil of noise. Within the space, students and teachers explore motion and meditation through 10 class types, including yoga styles such as Ashtanga and Vinyasa, Bollywood and ecstatic dance fitness, and restorative movement styles such as the Feldenkrais method. Instructors enhance some workouts by turning the temperature up to 88 degrees, and other workouts become more intense with the incorporation of ballet-barre techniques. In addition to regular classes, the studio holds workshop intensives in popular subjects, such as yoga, the Feldenkrais method, and how to work a thermostat.
Leah Marsh discovered Pilates in college, but she never though it's where her career path would end up. After working at a luxury magazine and then for an eco-fashion designer, however, she found her way back to Pilates and opened a studio in her hometown of Long Beach. Marsh now operates two Pilates X studios, each of which hosts a diverse array of Pilates, yoga, and cardio classes. For all of their differences, these classes share an emphasis on toning muscles with Pilates techniques. Marsh has even put to use her background in eco-conscious fashion, stocking her studios with boutique sportswear and encouraging her students to only deadlift renewable trees.