Do Yoga On A Helipad 55 Stories Above The Ground
It's often been said that Los Angeles has no skyline. That's not entirely true, but it is rather flat. The reason for this is that any building over 75 feet tall, up until 2014, had to be equipped with a helipad in case of emergency. A helicopter can't land on a point, so L.A.'s skyline tends to be very boxy. The first building to take advantage of this rule being tossed out is Wilshire Grand, coming in at 73 stories, the tallest building west of Chicago. It manages to be taller than the U.S. Bank Tower thanks to an architectural spire. Still, downtown remains home to quite a few helipads. Most of the time, you can't just hang out on one, but if you could, what would you choose to do? Well, here's a very L.A. answer: yoga.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles' helipad is on the 55th floor: that's 650 feet above the ground. They recently started offering yoga classes on the helipad. The helipad is typically off-limits as it's only used for emergencies, and most people who wanted to land there simply could not. I'm told not even Barack Obama could land there—but that's only because his presidential chopper is a bit too large.
I am not especially not a heights person. I'm good with all other sorts of scary things—Halloween is my Christmas—but just looking over my second story balcony makes me queasy. And so, I was invited to "conquer my fears" and try out this helipad yoga at The Ritz-Carlton Spa.
Let's be clear here: you'd have to really try to fall off this thing. Climbing the stairs to get up to the helipad may cause your stomach to twist and your heart rate to accelerate, but so long as you don't decide to prance around on the very edge of the helipad, you should be fine. A great majority of it isn't a straight drop down anyhow. That said, it is very obvious that you are very, very high up. I'd say, on a scale of not-at-all-scared to call-the-National-Guard, it's about a 2. The views allow a sense of perspective that the meditative will appreciate. From here, all the cars are very small. They worm their way through tiny streets, and it's impossible not to think, 'None of these people know I exist.'
The yoga classes are small, with only ten students per class, so there's plenty of room to spread your mat safely in the middle of the pad. Beginners are welcome. As you practice your downward dogs and warrior poses, you'll be able to see blue skies and various landmarks all around—assuming it's not particularly cloudy or smoggy that day. It is nearly mandatory that you do your best pose while a friend snaps a photo, which you will later Instagram. (#RCmemories seems to be the tag of choice.)
Though the instructors will change, ours for the day was Rachel Jackson. She teaches over at Wanderlust, a yoga/meditation studio and eatery that opened in last summer in Hollywood. She was very nice about the fact that my hamstrings sometimes feel made of wood, and allowed lots of time for reflection. It's quiet that high up, save for the helicopter that flew over head and presumably landed on a different nearby helipad, so it's a good time to breathe deep and think about any 'big picture' issues that may be floating around in your head.
So, how does one sign up for helipad yoga? Well, it isn't cheap: it costs $3,500 to rent the pad. Get nine friends and it'll cost you $350 each. However, you do get a pretty full day, as that includes a 90-minute yoga and meditation session on the helipad, a 50-minute spa treatment, lunch, water, juice and valet parking. Lunch can be eaten on the rooftop patio, which is typically not accessible to the public, or in the spa's calming Sanctuary area. You may also hang out in the spa for the day and use its amenities, including the eucalyptus steam rooms and cold plunge showers.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles is located at 900 West Olympic Blvd. in downtown Los Angeles. To schedule a class, call the spa at (213) 763-4400.