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.
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 and 40% humidity. 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 recently-renovated studio with new flooring and heating system 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.
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.
Paula Brown has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1999, ever since she discovered that yoga went beyond mere exercise. As a registered Yoga Alliance instructor, she draws on techniques developed 2,500 years ago in India. Each posture cultivates flexibility and strength while calming the mind and fostering health. Paula's style is based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, a yoga master who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Iyengar's method is unique in that he emphasizes proper alignment, timing, and sequencing while moving between postures.
All of Paula's 14 instructors offer daily classes and private sessions inside the more than 9,000-square-foot Yoga Space studio, built in an old bank and furnished with eco-friendly paint, all-natural air, and an abundance of light. In addition to three yoga rooms, the studio includes a healing center that offers massages and more, an outside patio, and a tea bar. When students finish their classes, they can browse through the studio's store, which is stocked with yoga mats and clothes made with organic cotton and recycled karma.
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.