Getting a Leg Up on Affordable Yoga

There’s an increasing acceptance--the “mainstreaming,” if you will--of yoga practices and yoga centers by Americans whom you’d never regard as New Age. Such yoga concepts as meditation, stress reduction and “wellness” have become an increasingly familiar part of the American cultural landscape. Several inexpensive yoga resorts in California--where yoga first took hold in America in a big way--are worth a look.

* Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Grass Valley. One of four pioneering centers founded by the late Swami Vishnu-devananda, this center is set on 80 secluded acres of the Sierra Nevada mountains 90 minutes from Sacramento.

The century-old wooden farmhouse cozily hosts 35 to 40 guests at a time and operates throughout the year. Tent spaces and tepees are also available in season.

Rates are $35-$40 per person in the dormitory, $45-$50 double, $55-$60 private, $25-$30 tents, $30-$35 tepees; telephone (530) 272-9322, fax (530) 477-6054.


* White Lotus Foundation, Santa Barbara. For more than 20 years one of the country’s most successful yoga institutions, White Lotus is idyllically set in a canyon 1,500 feet up in the mountains overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific. “Personal retreats” may be the best choice for newcomers, offering hatha yoga classes, meditation, hiking, swimming and various other facilities.

Artistically designed wooden “yurts” sleep up to four. There are also some loft spaces and a few private cabins, or you can camp at the creek or near the waterfalls.

Personal retreats cost $40 single, $35 double per person per day. Weekend retreats, which are more structured and comprehensive, average $350 per person, including meals; tel. (805) 964-1944.

* The Expanding Light, Nevada City. This is a project of the Ananda World Brotherhood Village. Two hours from Reno and 90 minutes from Sacramento, these magnificent 780 acres are 2,500 feet up in the foothills of the Sierra, with pine forests, flowers and nature trails (and not far from the Yuba River, with its great swimming possibilities).

The least expensive way to get your feet wet is the “personal retreat,” allowing as little or as much as you want of the twice-daily guided yoga postures and meditation classes, excursions, spiritual counseling and holistic health center offering techniques such as ayurveda, polarity and massage.

Pleasant lodgings are in cabins. Personal retreats are $48 per person per day in tent or RV, $68 in a shared room, $91 in a private room; five-day programs start at $305; tel. (800) 346-5350, fax (530) 478-7519.

* Master Yoga Academy, La Jolla. Down the street from Deepak Chopra’s pricey Chopra Center for Well Being, Master Yoga is much more reasonably priced and offers a variation called “bliss yoga.” Just three blocks from a beautiful Pacific beach, it puts up guests in comfortable nearby hotels.

Meals cost up to $12 daily. A three-day, two-night stay runs $169 per person; tel. (800) 588-9642, fax (619) 454-5541.