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After a long day at work, it’s understandable that you just want to unwind and relax a little. While vegging out in front of the television may sound tempting, there’s nothing better for feeding the mind, body, and soul than a yoga class. 

From improving your strength and flexibility to helping you distress from your hectic life, yoga can do it all.

But finding the right yoga studio can be a stressful task. The solution? Check out free classes and/or donation-based classes. You'll get a sense of what it would be like to go to these studios on a regular basis before committing to a membership.

Contribution based yoga classes have recommended donations but accept any amounts. Basically, give what you can. You can also get free classes by working for a yoga studio.

Here are a few of our favorite yoga spots:

1. Yoga to the People, Downtown Berkeley and San Francisco

If you’re a sporadic yoga enthusiast, Yoga to the People allows anyone interested in their Vinyasa classes to join in the fun. Their donation-based system lets yogis of all proficiency levels experience the benefits of a studio without the commitment.

They are conveniently located on Shattuck & University in Berkeley with 60-minute classes throughout the day, ranging from 7 AM to 9 PM on weekdays.If Berkeley is too far for you, there’s another donation-based location on 16th and Mission in San Francisco.

However, due to their suggested $10 donation, the studios are popular among yoga aficionados and can get crowded before you can say “om mani padme hum.”

Regulars advise getting there at least 15 minutes before class to ensure your spot. Alternatively, check out a less crowded afternoon class.

2. Flying Studio, North Oakland

Flying Studio has classes to fit your every need. Whether you’re looking for beginner-friendly classes, slower paced lessons or fast-paced courses for the athlete in you. 

Much like Yoga to the People, Flying Studio boasts some donation-based classes such as their Happy Hour yoga class that is open to all levels on the first Friday of each month.

You’ll be happy to know that all donations go to a local nonprofit organization of their choosing, although students are welcomed to make suggestions. The studio also has late night, teeny tots, and Yoga for Boomers Plus donation based classes. Suggested donations ranging from $9-$14.

3. CorePower Yoga, West Berkeley

Maybe you have a light week in your upcoming schedule or you may just want to delve into the yoga life headfirst. CorePower Yoga makes it easy to try their studio out for a full week with introductory classes for new students. The best part? The classes are completely unlimited for the week. Go several times a day, if you wish!

Conveniently scheduled classes allow you to try out heated or unheated classes focused on core strengthening, cardio training, and much more. CorePower Yoga opened another Berkeley studio on Shattuck earlier this year.

4. Bridges Rock Gym, El Cerrito

If you’re already a rock-climbing enthusiast, Bridges Rock Gym offers not only one of the few indoors bouldering experiences around the Bay Area, but also free yoga and fitness classes to its members. Non-members can pay a small fee to drop-in without registration.

Come to take advantage of their variety of classes from Vinyasa to Hatha Flow. They also have non-yoga fitness classes such as Zumba, boxing, and spinning classes to choose from. A little adrenaline before lessons may be just what you needed.

5. Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, San Francisco

Regular patrons at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center adore its bright décor. You'll feel like you’re stretching in your own little sanctuary in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores neighborhood.

Community donation classes occur weekdays at 2:30 PM with suggested donations ranging from $7-$16. Proceeds go to the studio’s Love Saves the Day Program intended to support a different charity or non-profit every month.

Classes are taught by recent yoga school graduates who welcome students of all levels to stop by and share in the transformative power of yoga.

6. Yoga on the Labyrinth, San Francisco

If you’re looking for a different studio atmosphere than the familiar four walls you’re so accustomed to, perhaps consider stretching your body within the magnificence of Grace Episcopal Cathedral where people of all faiths and backgrounds are welcomed.

Suggested donations range from $15-$20 with donations supporting the Grace Cathedral, its instructors, and occasional live musicians.

Like all the other yoga studios, yogis of all experience levels are encouraged to attend the hatha yoga classes and come into a collective meditative state. Classes are always on Tuesdays at 6:15 PM.

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