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Yoga Off-the-Beaten Path

Yoga dates back more than 5,000 years. And although there are different styles it is universally agreed upon that yoga benefits the mind, body and soul.

By: Ann Wycoff; Food, Spa & Travel Writer

The spiritual practice of yoga dates back more than 5,000 years. And while there are many different schools, styles and practices, it is universally agreed upon that yoga benefits the mind, body and soul. Yoga was introduced in the United States in the 1800s, but really didn’t catch on until the colorful 1960s when Western society became intrigued by the Eastern ways. Madonna and Sting’s dedication to the practice moved yoga into pop culture in the 90s and, today, it seems, classes can be found on every street corner. Twenty-first century yoga has taken on many incarnations from stand up paddle yoga and doga with dogs to laughter and live music yoga. San Diego is home to a wide array of classes, many set in beautiful environments. Here are some of our favorite places to enjoy downward dogs and salutations to the sun.

One of San Diego's most beautiful and serene yoga studios can be found at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa as the open-air gem made from Brazilian Ipe wood overlooks in infinity pond and a lush garden setting in a grove of Eucalyptus trees.

At Hotel Del Coronado, guests can enjoy yoga during summer on one of the country’s most glorious beaches, an idyllic experience in the fresh sea breeze with lapping waves as a soundtrack.

Encinitas is home to the country's youngest yoga instructor as Jaysea DeVoe, age 13, teaches classes on Tuesdays (5-6pm) for all ages at the lovely Balinese-chic Bergamot Spa in their stand-alone studio. The charming certified yogini plays upbeat music, shares inspiring quotes and professionally leads the class, which is particularly fun for younger children.

For those who want to do downward dogs literally with their dog, The Doghouse Bar & Grill offers Saturday summer sessions of Doga (yoga with pet dogs). After some good stretching and breathe work, owners can relax over brunch on the dog friendly patio with their four-legged furry friends.

Another new incarnation is Joga, Yoga for Jocks, offered at The Boxing Club in University Town Center (UTC). Joga is an athletic-based style of yoga that is designed specifically for athletes and individuals who train often, as it helps them gain flexibility while still keeping their strength and power. The Sunday morning class is a local hit and is currently implemented by some national sports teams.

At re:form Yoga in Carlsbad, live music further elevates the practice with acoustic guitar during their Gentle Flow Vinyasa class each Tuesday evening and classical piano filling the studio on one Monday each month. North Park Yoga holds Yoga for Cyclists classes and Men’s Nude Yoga, for those males able to check their egos and cloths at the door.

Moving beyond the classroom, yoga classes are now being held on water with stand up paddleboards acting as floating yoga mats. At Mission Bay Aquatics, yoga instructors lead SUPCore Yoga, where poses are performed on the board in the calm waters of the bay. Keeping the board balanced while doing a tree pose or Warrior II intensifies the core workout, while the beauty of nature enhances the overall experience. Guests of the Catamaran Resort & Spa can also try SUP Yoga during summer in the shallow bay waters out front of the resort.

Outdoor group gatherings for yoga are another popular trend with movements like Yoga Rocks the Park (YRP) holding sessions to create community consciousness in various cities. During summer, YRP comes to San Diego with outdoor, all levels, 75-minute classes infused by live music or DJ beats in the new Waterfront Park by the bay and in Liberty Station. At the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, monthly Thursday morning Hatha yoga classes take place in the tranquil garden next to the Koi pond. niwa.org/calendar

At Suzi's Farm in Imperial Beach, summer brings Farm to Yoga events where food and yoga enthusiasts can tour the farm, enjoy yoga classes onsite and then nourish the body with a farm- to-fork meal.

Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai, India created the Laughter Yoga movement which has spread into 70+ countries around the world. Laughter has many benefits as it delivers more oxygen to the body, reduces stress, improves the immune system and boosts endorphins in the body. In San Diego, the organization Laughter Matters hosts classes loaded with belly laughs around the city, including a popular Saturday morning class on a grassy lawn in beautiful Balboa Park.

Namaste!

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