“We just passed our four-year anniversary and have more than 60 classes with lots of different teachers with different backgrounds and styles,” said Helen Cloots, yoga center manager/teacher.
“It’s our variety,” answered Cloots, when asked what separates La Jolla Yoga Center from the rest. “Most other studios do more specialized styles. We’re generalists, though we do have experts in certain individual styles. We do have a little bit of something for everyone.”
Cloots said the clientele at La Jolla Yoga Center is as varied as the instruction.
“Everyone comes for something different, for what works for them,” she said.
Cloots said older patrons come for some of the more gentle, relaxed, meditative classes, while younger patrons who “want to get a good workout” are drawn by the more physically challenging classes.
“The nice thing is, depending on the day, you can come in and do both — or just one,” said Cloots, noting the studio caters to lots of locals but has an extensive mailing list of some 5,000 clients from all over, many of whom she said “come in for special workshops and teachers that they like.”
Amanda Bowman, a member and volunteer, talked about what she felt makes La Jolla Yoga Center special.
“It’s a great community, almost like a support group,” Bowman said. “It’s kind of a self-selecting group, people looking to enhance their lives, make themselves feel better.”
Bowman said going to the studio is a great stress reducer.
“The breathing exercises are especially beneficial,” she said. “You feel this new energy. You can deal with whatever problems come your way.”
Stress reduction is among the many practical benefits of practicing yoga.
“It’s about relieving stress, building strength and flexibility, not only physically but mentally,” said Cloots. “People are here just as much or more for the mental benefits as they are for the physical.”
Yoga is also good for those recuperating from surgery or injury.
“We’ve had people come in here and say, ‘I just had my hip replaced and the doctor said yoga would be good for me,’” said Bowman. “We’re also open to beginners. We have some options they can jump into and start to learn.”
On a recent weekday afternoon, studio member Jule Ruggles, just exiting from a yoga session, explained why he was drawn to the discipline.
“My whole thing is to develop my core because of back issues,” Ruggles said, adding La Jolla Yoga Center is his place to do that because “it’s a great studio with great instructors and the price is right.”
Reenacting a typical hour-long yoga session, Cloots said, “You’re going to start together on mats seated or lying down, and first there will be a moment of centering where the teacher is going to bring everyone’s awareness to the same place in their body and breadth, kind of tune in. Then there will be movements to start some stretching and hold the breadth. Then you move into poses, starting slowing building up to the more challenging poses. Then you arc back down to the more relaxing poses. The last 10 minutes is with your eyes closed where you just let yourself be what we refer to as ‘rest and digest.’”
Another advantage of La Jolla Yoga Center is the depth — and unpredictibility — of its instructors.
“With our teachers it’s different every time,” Cloots said. “You don’t know that this pose is going to come next. So it kind of keeps you more present.”
Another yoga studio serving a divergent clientele offering a variety of yoga styles for practitioners of all skill levels is Prana Yoga at 10411 Silverado St.
Gerhard Gessner, who founded Prana in 2001, has been practicing and teaching yoga for 30 years. He began practicing in his home then branched out into local gyms before starting his own studio.
Prana teaches yoga instructors, as well as offering a plethora of classes seven days a week.
Gessner said yoga is trending upward in popularity, noting that’s partly because it’s something everyone can do.
“If you can walk and you can breathe, you can do yoga,” Gessner said, noting the discipline is geared toward improving strength, flexibility and mobility, all increasingly important to people as they age and lose muscle mass.
“We have a broad spectrum of classes, for young and old, from beginners to more challenging,” said Gessner.
He said yoga started out as more of mental discipline, then added the more physical element of poses.
“There are carvings in caves from several thousand years ago of people in yoga poses,” said Gessner, surmising the rigid mental discipline evolved into stretching of appendages and ultimately poses.
“It’s always been a mind-body practice,” he said. “The body has to be happy in order for the mind to be happy.”
Yoga options in La Jolla:
• Prana Yoga: 1041 Silverado St., (858) 456-2806, prana-yoga.com
• Sol Yoga Studios: 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, (858) 452-9642, solyogastudios.com
• Bikram’s Yoga: 565 Pearl St., (858) 8642, bikramyogalajolla.com
• Akasha Yoga: 3211 Holiday Court, (858) 622-9642, akashayoga.com
• Shakti Yoga: 920 Kline St., (858) 229-5080
• Corepower Yoga: 702 Pearl St., (619) 455-9642, corepoweryoga.com
• La Jolla Yoga Center: 7741 Fay Ave., (858) 456-2412, lajollayogacenter.com