America’s Top 10 Yoga Towns

What’s the recipe for a great city for yogis? 
Start with renowned teachers and studios, 
mix in a supportive community and healthful amenities, and then sprinkle in some fun, innovative events. 
These 10 are blue-ribbon winners.

presented by MINDBODY Connect

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  • No longer a fringe fad reserved for gurus and hippies, yoga has moved to the mainstream, with more than 21 million Americans now hitting the mat. As a result, yogis are gravitating toward other like-minded folks, living and vacationing in towns that support their practice and ethos, and in the process, creating yoga hotspots around the country. We teamed up with our friends at Yoga Alliance (YA) to uncover the most thriving of these meccas using data on the cities with the highest number of YA-registered teachers and yoga schools.

    See also What Is the Most Emotionally Healthy U.S. State?

    “All of these communities where yoga is booming represent cities and towns that have fully accepted 
yoga into the zeitgeist and where the majority of people view it as something healthy and worthwhile,” says Andrew Tanner, YA spokesman. “Yogis flock 
to these places not just for the yoga but 
for the consciousness infrastructure 
that builds around yoga communities, such as juice bars, community-supported agriculture, food co-ops, and music 
and art scenes.”

    We couldn’t help but be inspired 
by how these cities are embracing the practice with their own local flair, so 
we dug a little deeper to learn what makes each yoga community so special. Find out if your hometown made the cut, gather ideas to help your own yoga community thrive, and discover new vacation destinations to get your Om on—plus learn where to eat, stay, and play during your visit.

    READ MORE > America's Top Yoga Town Trends

     

  • 1. New York City

    1. New York City

    Hometown Pride: Teacher Training

    YA Registered Teachers: 657
    YA Registered Schools: 53

    A vast variety in teacher trainings—even beyond those that are registered through 
Yoga Alliance—is what really 
sets NYC apart. This makes sense considering that the 8.4 million proudly opinionated New Yorkers rarely agree on anything—except their city’s reputation as the center of the world.

    “New York City is a hub for everything else, so it had to become a hub for yoga also,” 
says Rodney Yee, who has been teaching yoga for more than 30 years and co-owns the popular New York City studio Yoga Shanti with his wife and fellow teacher, Colleen Saidman Yee. “Today, there is an amazing collection 
of teachers and training programs in the city for every style of yoga.”

    The East Coast metropolis truly has something for every yogi—from long-established studios offering classes and programs steeped in tradition 
like the Iyengar Yoga Institute, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Integral Yoga Institute, and Jivamukti Yoga, to studios teaching newer practices like dance-infused yoga at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center and the provocative naked vinyasa yoga at the Bold & Naked studio, which aims 
to help students accept and appreciate their bodies. And no place else can you study seven days a week with yoga legends like Sri Dharma Mittra, the master teacher behind the 908 Yoga Asana, a poster of asana photos that has become an essential teaching tool in studios around the country. Kendyl Beschen traveled all the way from Hawaii to attend Mittra’s teacher training at the Dharma Yoga Center. “Flying to New York City put 
me in the presence of Dharma’s community of students in his home studio, which was 
very important to me,”
Beschen says.

    And while NYC attracts world-renowned teachers, the students are equally impressive: Many seek to go above and beyond the standard 200-hour teacher training programs. “People come to New York because they have a lot of energy and curiosity, so the students here are really thirsty for information and excited to take their practice to the next level,” says Saidman Yee. “We want our students to aim for closer to 10,000 hours. Our goal is to dig deeper, to be 
like a university where senior teachers can continue to teach and learn from one another.”

    See also Top 7 Editors’ Picks from the YJLIVE! Yoga Market in NYC

    Where to EAT
    Snag a table at Blossom restaurant (blossomnyc.com) in Chelsea for fresh vegan dishes like mushroom ‘calamari’ and 
cashew cream ravioli.

    Where to STAY
    Check into Dream Downtown (dreamhotels.com), with dozens of downtown yoga studios and the new buzzed-about Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org) just blocks from the hotel.

    Where to PLAY
    Stroll down to the High Line (thehighline.org), a park built on an elevated railroad line 
30 feet above the street, where you can participate in guided meditations taught by nearby yoga schools like the Integral Yoga Institute.

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in New York City

  • 2. San 
Francisco

    2. San 
Francisco

    Hometown Pride: Yoga culture

    YA Registered Teachers: 412
    YA Registered Schools: 43

    The epicenter of the hippie counterculture movement of the 1960s, the City by the Bay was an early adopter of the spirituality and meditative movement of yoga. In 1974, it became home 
to the first Iyengar teacher training program in the United States, educating thousands on the popular asana poses we know so well today.

    “Yoga is just part of life here,” says Stephanie Snyder, who teaches vinyasa yoga at various studios around the city. Live here and even your boss may encourage you to take a break and Zen out as a way to boost productivity and morale. Local tech giants like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Airbnb all offer free yoga workshops and meditation classes to their employees. “My colleagues and 
I are frequently asked to teach classes at conferences and company meetings around the city,” says Stacey Rosenberg, 
an alignment-based hatha yoga teacher at Yoga Tree in Hayes Valley.

    Yoga is truly ubiquitous 
in SF: Its Asian Art Museum hosted the world’s first major art exhibition about the practice last year, SFO airport opened the first airport yoga room in 2012 to help travelers destress amid flight delays, 
and at-risk K–12 students in schools across the city are being 
taught yoga, thanks to help 
from the nonprofit Headstand.

    See also YJ LIVE! San Francisco 2015 Highlights

    Where to EAT
    Fuel up for the day with homemade toast topped with avocado, an olive-oil drizzle, and coarse sea salt at Nourish (nourishcafesf.com) in 
the Richmond District.

    Where to STAY Get some R & R at the Sir 
Francis Drake Hotel (sirfrancisdrake.com) in Union Square, where you’ll find yoga mats in every room 
and complimentary bikes to ride around town.

    Where to PLAY
    Take your practice outside: 
Purusha yoga studios offers free classes in the city’s beautiful Golden Gate Park (purushayoga.org).

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in San Francisco

     

  • 3. Los Angeles

    3. Los Angeles

    Hometown Pride: innovation

    YA Registered Teachers: 343
    YA Registered Schools: 37

    Always a trendsetter, LA is notoriously uninhibited when it comes to trying new things. “The ever-popular vinyasa flow was birthed here at the original YogaWorks with Maty Ezraty in 1987,” says Jill Miller, the LA-based co-founder of Yoga Tune Up Fitness Worldwide ( yogatuneup.com) and creator of the corrective exercise format Yoga Tune Up as well as The Roll Model Method. “While ‘flow’ yoga is now ubiquitous, at its inception it was a boundary-breaking, novel blend of Iyengar-style attention to alignment mixed with flowing interludes derived from Pattabhi Jois [founder of Ashtanga Yoga].”

    Also popularized in LA: Kundalini Yoga by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa at the celeb favorite Golden Bridge Yoga studio ( goldenbridgeyoga.com), 
and Yin Yoga by Paul Grilley 
( paulgrilley.com). Today, the City 
of Angels continues to be a magnet for innovation, spreading new trends like standup paddleboard yoga, Bikram Yoga, aerial yoga, Yoga Booty Ballet, and drop-in meditation studios like Unplug ( unplugmeditation.com) in Santa Monica.

    Where to EAT
    After class, enjoy Hugo’s Restaurant’s refreshing green Yogi smoothie made with mango, apple, ginger, toasted 
almonds, soy milk, yogi tea, and ice (hugosrestaurant.com).

    Where to STAY
    Fall asleep to the sound of breaking waves at the ocean-side Shutters on the Beach, which offers guests surf lessons and yoga in the sand (shutters
onthebeach.com).

    Where to PLAY
    Sweat it out at the eco-friendly Hot 8 Yoga studio in Santa Monica, then cool off with a dip in the Paciific just a block away (hot8yoga.com).

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in Los Angeles

  • 4. Seattle

    4. Seattle

    Hometown Pride: Family-
friendly yoga

    YA Registered 
Teachers: 343
    YA Registered 
Schools: 26

    This seaside city consistently ranks as one of the healthiest in America thanks to its bustling farmers’ markets, bike-friendly streets, and green spaces, so it’s not surprising it attracts so many yogis. (Even the beloved Seahawks football team hits the mat as part of their training routine.) “This strong yoga culture has created a parent population interested in giving their children the opportunity to start early,” says Anne Phyfe Palmer, prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher and founder of 8 Limbs Yoga Centers 
( 8limbsyoga.com). The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park ( seattleartmuseum.org) hosts free yoga on the lush, green lawn in summer, and is home base for family festivals featuring kid-friendly yoga, art-making, live music, and nature education.

    Where to EAT
    Kids will love the sweet, antioxidant-packed acai bowls at Healeo (healeo.com).

    Where to STAY
    With its spacious rooms, the Hilton Homewood Suites Downtown (homewoodsuites3.hilton.com) is ideal for families, and it’s a short walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum.

    Where to PLAY
    Hit up the famed Pike Place Market 
(pikeplacemarket.org) for seasonal tastes and kid-friendly events. 
And check out Family Jam Yoga at Kula Movement, where you 
and your little ones can learn to stretch your minds and bodies 
together (kulamovement.com).

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in Seattle

     

  • 5. Austin

    5. Austin

    Hometown Pride: Social Scene

    YA Registered Teachers: 340
    YA Registered Schools: 30

    The Texas town nurtures a vibrant yoga community to complement its thriving live-
music scene and eclectic mix of artists, foodies, entrepreneurs, college students, and cowboys. To keep concertgoers centered at the music and film festival South by Southwest (SXSW), Black Swan Yoga ( blackswanyoga.com) hosts daily recovery sessions with live performances by world-music artists. Those visiting the city may also stumble upon yoga-themed dating events, yoga flash mobs to promote peace, and “bend and brew” bar nights that pair yoga and craft beers. You can even practice mindfulness with your dog at Austin Doga ( austindoga.com) or, before you grocery-shop, squeeze in a few Sun Salutations at a free yoga class on the rooftop 
of Whole Foods Market, hosted by Lululemon 
( wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lamar).

    Where to EAT
    For healthy Tex-Mex, order the Rockin Taco Salad at the Daily Juice Café (dailyjuicecafe.com).

    Where to STAY
    Crash at an Airbnb airstream trailer for a funky Austin 
experience (airbnb.com).

    Where to PLAY
    Visit Wanderlust Yoga Studio (austin.wanderlustyoga.com) to take yoga classes accompanied by live musicians and DJs.
    “There are so many events and festivals going on, it really makes yoga a necessity,” says Desirae Pierce, vinyasa teacher and owner of Breath & Body Yoga (breathand
bodyyoga.com).

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in Austin

  • 6. Chicago

    6. Chicago

    Hometown Pride: Inclusiveness

    YA Registered Teachers: 315
    YA Registered Schools: 38

    True to its Midwestern roots, the Chicago yoga community delivers an awesome experience on the mat without taking itself too seriously. “You’ll certainly see some fashionistas, but plenty of us show up to class in a T-shirt and sweatpants,” says Kerry Maiorca, founder and director of Bloom Yoga Studio ( bloom
yogastudio.com). “I love knowing that in our community, students can show up just as they are.”

    Bloom Yoga Studio offers free introductory classes and family yoga for parents and children, as well as advanced classes. The best time to visit Chicago is in summer, when the yoga community gathers for free outdoor classes on Saturday mornings at 
Millennium Park ( cityofchicago.org) and parent-and-toddler Yoga at the Zoo classes at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk (lpzoo.org).

    Where to EAT
    Stay hydrated with Owen + Alchemy’s fresh juices and smoothies (owenandalchemy.com).

    Where to STAY
    The Hotel Lincoln (jdvhotels.com) offers a rooftop sunrise yoga class and is located right near the Lincoln Park Zoo 
and Green City Market, a farmers’ market open May through October on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

    Where to PLAY
    Chicago SUP Yoga (chicagosupyoga.net) on Lake Michigan 
allows locals and visitors to work on their core strength while taking in the spectacular Chicago skyline.

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in Chicago

  • 7. Washington D.C.

    7. Washington D.C.

    Hometown 
Pride: Community outreach

    YA Registered Teachers: 271
    YA Registered Schools: 22

    The nation’s capital may be polarized when it comes to politics, but its yoga community proves it has the power to bring even the most divided minds together. Lawmakers united on Capitol Hill last spring for the first-ever Yoga on the Hill event, with its slogan, “Not Left. Not Right. Just Balance.” And balance 
is what many go-getter DC residents are seeking. Luckily, a plethora of 
yoga studios has given them ways 
to decompress, including the long-
standing Unity Woods Yoga Center 
( unitywoods.com), run by renowned Iyengar teacher John Schumacher; 
the Ashtanga Yoga Studio ( aysdc.com); hot and vinyasa practices at The Studio DC ( thestudiodc.com) and Flow 
Yoga Center ( flowyogacenter.com); and hatha yoga at Capitol Hill Yoga 
( capitolhillyoga.com). Every year, local studios collaborate for DC Yoga Week (like restaurant week in other cities, but for yogis), offering seven days of free or cheap ($5) classes. At the end of 
the week, thousands gather on the National Mall to practice yoga with local teachers ( dccy.org).

    Where to EAT
    Treat yourself to one of 10 seasonal, specialty 
cupcakes at Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats (stickyfingersbakery.com).

    Where to STAY
    The Topaz Hotel (topazhotel.com) provides 
an urban oasis with spa treatments, complimentary yoga mats, and 
specialty “Zen dens” for relaxing.

    Where to PLAY
    The drum circle in Meridian Hill Park (a.k.a. 
Malcolm X Park) has been a regular gathering spot since the 1950s. Watch AcroYoga (a mix of acrobatics and yoga) and slackline yoga (done on tightropes) happening to the beat of the drums every Sunday afternoon.

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in Washington D.C.

  • 8. Portland

    8. Portland

    Hometown 
Pride: Giving back

    YA Registered Teachers: 267
    YA Registered Schools: 22

    Portland’s highly educated population 
and passion for social responsibility
have created a collaborative and socially conscious yoga community that’s dedicated to serving the needs and interests of local neighborhoods.

    Nonprofits like Living Yoga (living-yoga.org) and Street Yoga (streetyoga.org) bring yoga to prisons, at-risk youth, shelters, and rehabilitation centers, while The People’s Yoga (thepeoplesyoga.org) offers low-cost classes to make yoga more accessible to those who might otherwise be priced out. Some 
studios, like the Bhaktishop Yoga Center 
(thebhaktishop.com), also offer scholar-
ships for yoga passes and promote eco-friendly living by providing free mats
to anyone who cycles or walks to class.

    Where to EAT
    It’s impossible to order wrong at The Harlow Café (harlowpdx.com), where everything is fresh, organic, and vegetarian.

    Where to STAY
    The hip ACE Hotel Portland (acehotel.com/portland) downtown 
offers local, organic breakfast and smaller, shared rooms for budget-minded travelers.

    Where to PLAY
    Start the day with Morning Flow at The People’s Yoga, visit the Farmers’ Market (portlandfarmersmarket.org) downtown on a rented bike from Clever Cycles (clevercycles.com), then picnic in one of the city’s many parks (Mt. Tabor is a favorite) and enjoy an afternoon of people watching.

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Trends in Portland

  • 9. Denver

    9. Denver

    Hometown Pride: Yoga for athletes

    YA Registered Teachers: 257
    YA Registered Schools: 24

    The Mile-High City’s high altitude and biking/running trails attract people internationally to train and live, flooding Denver with athletes ready to take their sports and yoga practices to the next level. The studios rise to the demand, offering some of the country’s most challenging classes. For instance, Julieta Claire teaches Tigress, a three-hour level 2–3 practice at Endorphin Studios ( myendorphin.com), while Cheryl Deer teaches advanced Forrest Yoga, 
a practice involving long holds and vigorous sequences, 
at the Samadhi Center ( samadhiyoga.net) and Kindness Collective. Yoga Pod ( lodo.yogapodcommunity.com) 
also offers several advanced vinyasa and flow classes for more experienced yogis.

    Where to EAT
    Swing by City, O’ City (cityocitydenver.com) for a vegetarian meal with kombucha from the tap. Or try seasonal fare at community-centered Root Down (rootdowndenver.com).

    Where to STAY 
    Located at Denver Union Station, the Crawford Hotel (thecrawfordhotel.com) offers chic rooms, free loaner bikes, fitness classes, and a luxe spa to soothe sore muscles.

    Where to PLAY 
    Score a ticket to the wildly popular Yoga on the Rocks (yoga.redrocksonline.com) event, during which 2,000-plus veteran and newbie yogis roll out their mats at the iconic and awe-inspiring Red Rocks 
Amphitheatre in summertime.

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Town Trends in Denver

  • 10. Houston

    10. Houston

    Hometown 
Pride: Diversity

    YA Registered 
Teachers: 244
    YA Registered 
Schools: 18

    The most ethnically diverse large city in the United States, Houston boasts a diverse yoga scene as well. Nature lovers can find their Zen outside with free classes in Discovery Green, the 12-acre city park (discoverygreen.com), and beginners can try asana 
at Big Power Yoga (bigpoweryoga
.com) and YogaOne Houston 
(yogaonehouston.com). The Houston Yoga Collective (houstonyoga
collective.com) provides affordable classes and workshops to the budget conscious, and advanced yogis can push their practice with yoga master Robert Boustany (pralaya
yoga.com), founder of the Pralaya system. And since Texans aren’t afraid of a little heat, Original Hot Yoga Houston (bikram
yogahouston
.com), which opened nearly 
20 years ago, offers about 60 hot 
sessions a week.


    Where to EAT

    Indulge in paleo-friendly fare at Ruggles Black (rugglesblack.com).

    Where to STAY
    Settle in at the swanky Hotel Zaza (hotelzaza
.com) in the heart of Houston’s bustling 
museum district.

    Where to PLAY
    After a free introductory class at Houston 
Iyengar Yoga Studio 
(houstoniyengaryoga
.com), walk through the Japanese Garden in nearby Hermann Park.

    READ MORE > Top Yoga Town Trends in Houston