Free yoga isn't exactly hard to find in Austin. This is the home of Yoga with Adriene, who became one of the biggest names in all of yoga with free online videos; Swift Fit Events, which hosts community fitness classes around town; and a steady stream of Austinites just doing their own thing at parks.
Still, that hasn't always been enough to convince people to try yoga. If what's been stopping them is a lack of choice, the upcoming Day of Yoga at Waterloo Greenway is blowing that excuse out of the water with 24 different classes on September 4. This is also a great opportunity to sample classes by different studios around town.
Community yoga has always been beholden to the least practiced yogi who might stop by, and that's the point — we're not complaining. But with the breadth of teachings available during this one-day festival, the seasoned practitioners may even be stretched into both shapes and head spaces they've never been in.
Beginners may want to stick to the more standard class types, like alignment and vinyasa, which expect and especially cater to newbies. But the seasoned teachers know how to modify for different skill levels, and are used to having them drop by their respective studios, so don't worry if you're not walking into any of these as an expert.
Some of the more niche, deep-dive classes include breath work, sound baths, and targeted energetic practices like Kundalini, an intense practice meant to "awaken" a dormant energy, which can lead both to euphoria and disorientation. Although these classes may intimidate a new practitioner, they may contain the hooks that finally draw someone into the practice.
This CultureMap writer has more than a decade of experience in yoga, has been to enough local studios to nearly lose count, and is certified as a flexibility coach in aerial arts.
Here are the six classes we recommend signing up for while slots are wide open:
- Bilingual Yoga & Meditation (English/Spanish) by ESB-MACC: One of the hardest parts of getting into yoga is learning the shapes — often accompanied by a lot of neck craning. There are two classes on the Day of Yoga that are conducted in both English and Spanish so that practitioners can easily follow the verbal cues.
- Sukha Revival Party: Mantra, Breathwork, Flow, & Dance by Sukha Yoga Austin: Yoga doesn't have to be serious or austere, and Sukha Yoga regularly commits to the ecstatic side of practice. The high-energy class is led by studio owners and power couple Erinn and Mark. The class description promises to get weird, and they mean it.
- Align & Meditate by Yoga with Adriene and Practice Yoga Austin: Since Adriene Mishler is the patron saint of free yoga, her class is a must-try, and the subject is great both for beginners learning the foundations of poses and more experienced yogis who need a tune up. Even though Adriene's online classes are very accessible, Practice Yoga gets very advanced in person.
- Flexibility & Mobility by Flow Yoga ATX: Flow Yoga has one of the best reputations in Austin, moving away from the blanket intensity of urban yoga and meeting practitioners on a more comfortable level. Flexibility and mobility are not just about looking great on a yoga mat, but reaching high places, walking with balance, using your strength in a balanced way, and more.
- Full Moon Yoga, Soundbath & Tarot by Wild Heart Yoga: Most people who have taken a yoga class have heard it's "not about making shapes," and this class is demonstrating that with a new age twist. Fans of astrology may enjoy learning about the "approaching Moon in Pisces" and find that yoga is a great new practice to augment their more esoteric interests.
- Kundalini Gong Yoga by Mehtab & Laura Benton: This powerful class will be taught at sunset, closing the day. Yogis who want a "transformational" experience should get this one on their calendars and look forward to an energetic awakening followed by a deep relaxation, and sensory input from every angle along the way.
All classes will be just 45-minutes, so an experienced yogi should be able to take a few classes with careful breaks in between classes, which are all outdoors. Participants should bring their own mat and plenty of water.
See the class schedule and RSVP at waterloogreenway.org.