It really seems like this happens to me more than once a year, but today, checking my bank statement in time for the weekend, I was blindsided by my gym’s “annual maintenance” fee. It was terrible, and brought up a lot of questions, like why something as important exercise is so unaffordable, why people (and businesses) are so cruel and deceptive, and why my lower back never feels quite right (blogging every day is the answer to that last one). All questions that can be resolved by heavily discounted yoga classes.
Which are actually surprisingly numerous, given how crazily expensive just about everything else seems to be. Because people really do believe in this stuff (and sometimes have the best interests of strangers at heart?), Brooklyn has quite a few yoga studios that either offer marked-down beginners courses or operate on a gentle “suggested donation” policy. Meaning, then, that even if you’re broke you can still do something good for yourself, and that not every institution is run by monsters, necessarily. Just Planet Fitness.
Yoga To The People
The biggest game in town, and with good reason. They’ve got enough daily classes to fit almost anyone’s schedule, plenty of available mats for a $2 rental fee, hot yoga classes, and an excellent roster of instructors who (usually) supplement classes with well chosen music. And, with suggested donation price for vinyasa classes set at $10, they’re one of the cheapest options in the entire city.
A similar concept as Yoga to the People, the entire studio is donation based (classes are a $5 suggested minimum) and operates under the ethos of “Health and wellness as a right of life rather than a luxury.” Walk-ins are welcome, and mats rent for just $1.
The Living Gallery
This generally only takes place once a week (on Tuesday nights) and it’s best to keep an eye on the Gallery’s Facebook page for scheduling updates, but for anyone who’s also looking to work in a good dose of meditation (and a low-key all-levels class), the Living Gallery is an incredibly solid option. Classes are a suggested donation of $10, and you’ll need to bring your own mat.
Ever since opening their doors in early 2000 (they bill themselves as Williamsburg’s first ever yoga studio), Go Yoga has been a much-loved neighborhood staple, and is known for incorporating a delightfully-named system called “regal yoga.” It’s not especially cheap (monthly memberships run at $108 and drop-in classes are $20) but first-timers can take advantage of their introductory deal, which’ll get you a month of unlimited classes for $39, with no further commitments.
Brooklyn Yoga Collective
With a sliding pay scale of donations ranging from $7 to $15 (you determine yours based on your income, so it’s essentially an honors system), Brooklyn Yoga Collective has a reputation among regulars as being much more laid back than its peers in the neighborhood, and operates on the mission of “[making] yoga classes accessible to the community.” They’ve also got a wider variety of classes tham most studios, with classes for kids, more advanced levels, lower key “restorative” courses, and even a classical music-based class on Sunday mornings. A little out of the way if you don’t happen to live in the neighborhood, but fairly ideal if you do.
795 Franklin Ave., Crown Heights
Brooklyn Yoga School
This one comes with the notable advantage of having the studio housed inside a beautiful brownstone, and surrounded by massive, street-facing windows. It also operates on a pay-what-you-wish sliding scale (the standard range is between $5 and $15), is friendly to walk-ins, and generally holds classes that work for all levels. And if you to make it through an entire class without once thinking about the strangers who can see your progress through the window, well, that means all of this is working.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.