With yoga boasting various health benefits, like increased flexibility, stress relief, detoxifying the body, massaging the internal organs and creating long, lean muscles, you'd be wise to start incorporating a sun salutation or two into your fitness routine. Many places throughout Chicago offer free weekly or donation-only classes, so if you need to find balance in your hectic life, or if you just want to see what all the fuss is about, we've listed places that offer the opportunity to do so without breaking the bank. If you don't see a studio that's in your hood, always remember that many places may offer special event free classes or monthly pricing specials, so don't be afraid to call and ask.
Go for the real deal at Moksha Yoga (River West and Lakeview)
3:30-5 p.m. Sunday in River West; 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday in Lakeview
Moksha, reputed to be one of the most complete yoga lifestyles centers in Chicago, offers free weekly community classes at both locations, and the River West location offers a Sunday-night meditation class (perfect for relaxing before hitting the sack). Teachers alternate frequently; while styles may vary, all classes are at a beginner level. The sessions fill up fast here, so try to come early to get a spot in the cozy studio. If you find yourself feeling the community vibe, learn the fundamentals of yoga in a four-week intro to yoga session for $60, with your first studio class free.
Detox at YogaNow (Gold Coast and Edgewater)
2:15-3:15 p.m. Sunday in the Gold Coast; 6-7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Edgewater location
Everyone can benefit from yoga's cleansing properties, but it's especially helpful for those of us who deal with the daily grind of the commute to and from downtown. Try this sustainable studio's community class on Sunday to get accustomed to the space and the teachers, then make stopping by its Gold Coast location part of your post-work routine. It offers a variety of yoga classes, fun workshops (like couples yoga) and a few classes for kids. No matter which class fits your schedule, be sure to make time for a steam or sauna afterward. The heat (and drinking plenty of water) will suck out even more of the toxins built up in your system than yoga alone. This combo can be a bit addictive, so opt for a 10-pack of classes for $130 instead of dropping $16 each session.
Build a yoga community at your local Chicago Park District facility
Check chicagoparkdistrict.com for class times, locations and fees
If the idea of going to a yoga studio is a bit intimidating, try a yoga class through the Chicago Park District. Classes take place in gymnasiums all around the city; they draw a diverse, neighborhood crowd and are a way to truly build a local yoga community. Most programs are open to people of all skill levels, though there are a few intermediate classes, too. CPD does offer a few free classes every semester, but considering sessions cost just $3 to $90 and run three to four months, the cost of your daily Starbucks will do more damage to your wallet.
Learn to Breathe Fire at Spirit Rising Yoga
5-6 p.m. Sunday; $5 donation
Hatha and Ashtanga dominate the yoga styles in Chicago, but there are many varieties of yoga, including Kundalini, which focuses on cleansing the organs and tapping into deeply buried inner energy. So when you visit Spirit for its suggested-donation class on Sundays, expect to do a lot of pranayama fire breathing (imagine panting like a big, excited dog) during your session with a Kundalini student on the verge of graduation. The breathing techniques and use of a gong for sound may perplex you at first; the practice is very spirituality-based, though not in a religious way. Give it a chance, and before you know it, you'll want a gong for your home and shell out $75 for a six-class card.
Be a Frugal Yogi at Nature Yoga
Donation classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4-5:15 p.m.; Community Class 3:30-4:45 p.m. Sunday
This sunny yoga studio is the perfect place to get a healthy reminder to be thankful for your body and your mental awareness, instead of getting caught up among the hipsters, fashion boutiques and condo-dwellers that fill most of the surrounding Wicker Park neighborhood. It's also great for frugal yogis and students, as Nature not only offers a free community class on Sunday, but also donation and discounted (just $10) classes five days a week. Plus, Nature offers a variety of classes, so you can try out anusara-inspired, tantric hatha and vinyasa styles without breaking the bank. Once you find a teacher and a style that resonates with you, a 10-class card is $125 or do an Intro Series for $60.