When searching for the most affordable yoga in San Francisco, a studio with the mission to ‘make yoga available to everyone’ is surely a good place to look. That is, if you can find it. Yoga to the People, on 16th Street in The Mission is easy to miss. Once you figure out where it is (near the Victoria Theatre and Capp Street), ascend the spiralling stairs all the way to the fifth floor.
Once you finally get to the top (where you’re likely to see rows and rows of shoes) it becomes easy to see why Yoga to the People is worth the climb. In an old but charming building, the studio is spacious with large windows and wooden floors. There are pillars throughout the room, some adorned with pot-plants. These add to an earthy and rooftop vibe, despite the fact that it is inside. Through the windows at the front of the room you see a beautiful view of the San Francisco skyline, including the symbolic rainbow flag of The Castro flapping gallantly in the distance.
After stopping to admire the view, look for a spot to set up your mat. It’ll soon become clear that Yoga to the People is catering to a big audience. The large space can accommodate at least 70 people without feeling squeezed. Combining numerous bodies with the afternoon sun that streams in through the windows can make for a warm and sweaty practice. Think of it as low-emission hot yoga.
Adding to the warming effect is the pace of the class, which is relatively fast. The studio aims for a practice that is accessible yet challenging. Beginners might find the fast-paced class a little difficult to follow, especially in the back of the studio where it can be hard to hear the instructor.
If you are having trouble hearing, don’t worry—there are plenty of experienced yogis around the room to imitate. Just to be safe, don’t try to copy any of the more crazy-looking poses first time around. When everyone lies down and plays dead, you are in savasana, meaning the class is almost finished. The teacher will finish up by reading an uplifting quote and requesting donations.
The suggested donation is $10, but don’t feel bad if you are unable to give the full amount. Yoga to the People seems genuine in its goal to make yoga accessible to everyone—so all donations are met with thanks. However as the instructor points out, donations do keep the studio running.
With a beautiful view, spacious studio, and pay what you can philosophy, it’s easy to see why Yoga to the People is popular. Sure, smaller classes can be better for beginner yogis and enthusiastic swan-divers. But there is a certain energy to joining one of Yoga to the People’s classes. It somehow feels very ‘San Francisco’ to strike a Warrior 1 pose in unison with 70 other people while gazing at a rainbow flag.