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Why We Love L.A. Summers: Free Yoga Sessions

Bryan Kest's Power Yoga/Facebook
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By Lenika Cruz

Summer has arrived, and we're ready to celebrate all that screams 'tis the season in Los Angeles. From sand to summit, from sips to snacks -- we love L.A. summers.

The season that L.A. lives for is now well underway. While pleasure-seekers will be hitting the beach all summer, there's another free way to get your endorphins flowing and tone up your beach bod.

A bunch of L.A. yoga studios are offering free yoga sessions this summer, many of them outdoors, coaxing the restless from their desk jobs and the boozers from their margarita stupors (not that there's anything wrong with that) to slip on their yoga pants and get down on the mat. It's the perfect time to drag a friend along or try out new instructors or locations. Not to mention, yoga is a pretty L.A. thing to do.

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Runyon Canyon Yoga
The beautiful Runyon Canyon Park in Hollywood is an ideal place to downward dog, half crow and reverse warrior outdoors. The free classes were founded by Yogi Steve (who also has a background in martial arts), who teaches several classes a week. In fact, Runyon Canyon yoga offers three to four free classes a day, so there’s no excuse not to go if you miss your first class of the day. While donations are certainly accepted, they are not mandatory. Visit their website for more information on instructors and location details.

Bryan Kest's Power Yoga
Bryan Kest's Power Yoga in Santa Monica was one of the first donation-based yoga classes, spurring a crop of similar classes throughout the area. A word about donation-based versus free: the studio’s Facebook page describes donation-based as "the act of giving," meaning students pay as much as they are able to any given week, with $14 being the suggested donation. It’s less a demand for your wallets than a call for visitors to remember that studios need donations to survive and continue to offer reasonably priced classes. With a glowing local reputation to precede it, Bryan Kest's Power Yoga might just be the best place to start your yoga training.

Yoga at Mary Hotchkiss Park
Yoga instructor Brian Hyman (who has taught at Equinox and LA Fitness) teaches donation-based community yoga classes at Mary Hotchkiss Park in Santa Monica every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 11am. The park is located at 4th Street and Strand Street. All you need to bring is a mat or towel. All students can receive free YogaRat women's flip flops. Hey, the only thing better than free is more free stuff, right? Visit Strand Street Yoga's website for more information.

Lululemon's "Gift of Yoga"
Often we think of free classes as the domain of smaller studios and stores, but the giant activewear company Lululemon offers complimentary yoga sessions at locations across the country through its "gift of yoga" program. Fortunately, there are about seven Los Angeles locations to chose from. Visit the website to find a store near you.

Corepower Yoga
Corepower Yoga -- with locations in Torrance, Sherman Oaks and on Wilshire Boulevard -- offers a free week of unlimited yoga to new students. The sessions teach beginner, foundational moves that will set newcomers up for long-term yoga practice. For more information, visit Corepower's website.

Yogala Echo Park
Yogala Echo Park offers by-donation yoga classes five days a week in areas including power yoga, devotional warrior yoga, sweet and deep yoga and seeking centered/guided meditation. The studio also offers fun classes for "Seedlings," or little ones aged 6 months to 5 years. Stop by their website for more information.

Another solid bet for our OC neighbors is Road Less Traveled, a "modern natural living and community health shop," which is partnering up with YogaWorks Costa Mesa to offer a series of free Sunday workshops with rotating instructors for students of all levels. Visit the store's website for more details.

Also, studios like Liberation Studio in Hollywood are offering free first classes.

Know of a free yoga event happening this summer that we missed? Tell us in the comments section!