Avid yogis rarely need an excuse to hit the mat, but for less fervent followers, it can sometimes feel like a stretch to find the time. Yoga-fusion classes that combine weight training with poses or pair popular music with movement are nothing new, but yoga that encourages you to hit a joint, pet a cat, or practice in the buff? Now that's something worth bending over backwards for. Here are some of the more off-beat options for getting your "om" on around the Bay Area—plus three places to experiment with goat yoga on your next trip.
Yoga + Weed
While some yoga purists may argue against them, classes that combine marijuana with meditation and yoga are gaining popularity in the Bay Area—and bringing new meaning to the "yoga high" phenomenon. Since 2009, San Francisco's Dee Dussault, one of the pioneers of weed-fueled yoga in the U.S., has been championing the idea of using marijuana in yoga to increase mindfulness and encourage people to move their bodies freely while maintaining alignment. In addition to her Wednesday night "Smoke and Stretch," Thursday night "Vape Restorative," and Dab Saturday classes, Dussault released her book, Ganja Yoga, in April to help enhance the at-home practice of budding stoners.
In Oakland, once-a-month Ganjasana classes at Ume Yoga mix a more passive and relaxing yin practice with samples from, or discounts at, local dispensaries (for MMJ card holders). And, yogangsta Liz McDonald at Four20 Yoga offers appointment-only customizable classes for tokers and non-partakers alike. // Dee Dussault, deedussault.com; Ume Yoga, 1501 Broadway (Oakland), umeyoga.com; Four20 Yoga, four20yoga.com
Say "Om" on on the roof at Cal Academy.(John Hartsfield)
Yoga + A Museum…or Church...or Music Venue
As part of its Brain & Body NightLife series, which focuses on human health and wellness (upcoming dates include September 21 and November 9), California Academy of Sciences transforms into the city's coolest yoga studio, with sessions held around the museum and led by instructors from Yoga Tree and Yoga Works. Roll out your mat to try fish pose in front of the Phillippine Coral Reef or tree pose on the Living Roof (weather permitting), and round out your practice with sessions on topics like obesity and the brain, the "virtual mind-body experience," and transforming dreams, thoughts, and emotions into an art installation.
If you want to keep exploring options outside a studio setting, join hundreds of other yogis at Grace Cathedral on Tuesday nights, when mats extend through the labyrinth and aisles. Taught by renowned instructor Darren Main, most classes are followed by post-yoga programming such as cathedral tours and meditation groups. Mats are available for rent for $5. For yoga set to live music in a concert venue, head to Oakland's Starline Social Club, where weekly Showga events highlight local up-and-coming bands during practice in the music hall. // California Academy of Sciences Nightlife, 55 Music Concourse Dr., calacademy.org/nightlife; Grace Cathedral, 1100 California (Nob Hill), gracecathedral.org; Showga, 2236 M.L.K. Jr. Way (Oakland), showga.com
Yoga + Stand-Up Paddleboard
If balancing on dry land seems challenging, doing the same poses on a stand-up paddleboard may seem downright impossible. But SupAsana's classes at Mike's Paddle in Alameda cater to yoga (and SUP) novices and veterans alike, although an introductory SUP class is recommended. The 1.5-hour classes include all equipment, and take you through a flow sequence that will test both your muscles and your concentration on the water. OnBoard SUP, with locations in Sausalito and Redwood City, hosts classes on a floating board in Richardson Bay. // SUPAsana at Mike's Paddle, 1150 Ballena Blvd. #121 (Alameda), supasana.com; OnBoard SUP, 2100 Bridgeway Ave. (Sausalito), onboardsup.com
Yoga + Cats
Bringing new meaning to cat pose, the local kitty cafe encourages yogis to get their stretch on surrounded by adoptable felines. In Hayes Valley, KitTea Café's Cats on Mats lets you sip a pre-class cup of tea and flow through a hatha yoga sequence in the cat zone, where more than one feline is known to flop on a mat. Purchase a pair of cat-themed socks if you're really feeling frisky. // 96 Gough St. (Hayes Valley), kitteasf.com
Yoga + Silent Disco
Taking things one step further than other al fresco yoga options (which are also offered at Crissy Field and Fort Mason), Outdoor Yoga SF hosts silent disco classes at Baker Beach. As the sun sets on Wednesday and Sunday nights (weather permitting), you'll don headphones to listen to curated tunes as you're visually cued through a guided flow on the sand, with the Golden Gate Bridge in clear view. The organization has also started doing a few silent disco events at Bluxome St. Winery, followed by a tasting of three varietals or glass of your choosing—the next one takes place on June 4, but check the schedule for upcoming dates. // Baker Beach, outdooryogasf.com
Yoga + Laughter
While an errant fart may garner a few stifled giggles in a traditional yoga class, the Laughter Yoga classes at UCSF's Osher Center whole-heartedly encourage unabashed guffaws. Much like a traditional class, Laughter Yoga promises to increase blood flow, enhance endorphin levels, and reduce stress, but expect a one-hour session to look very different from the pose-centered classes you're used to. Laughter Yoga is more of an exploration of how laughter—real or simulated—can drastically change your outlook. The twice-a-month classes can involve everything from introducing yourself amidst a peal of maniacal laughter to laughing to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." // 1545 Divisadero St., 5th Floor, osher.ucsf.edu/classes-and-lectures/laughter-yoga
Yoga Sans Clothes
To prove the range of yoga options is as wide as your imagination, Naked Yoga for Men offers just that: male-only classes done sans clothing around the Bay Area. If you're a dude who likes bending in the buff, options range from donation-based nude classes to Naked QiGong/Tao Yoga to a couple of in-the-buff classes that encourage partner work (please bring your own mat). // nakedyogasf.com
Yoga + Goats
Goat yoga has yet to land in the Bay Area, but that doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of an opportunity to hear the pitter patter of cloven hooves during savasana. For an off-beat yoga class worthy of any yogis' bucket list, book a trip to Oregon's Willamette Valley, where Lainey Morse pioneered the practice of combining yoga and goats in 2016 with Goat Yoga. The therapeutic aspects of interacting with goats (or "goat therapy") were a natural complement to the benefits of yoga, and the now waitlisted classes feature free-ranging goats in a barn setting with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The goats, which range from full-sized to pygmy to babies, often stop by for a pet, to lay down on the mat, or—on rare occasions—climb on the participants. Due to the popularity, Morse is looking into helping other goat owners launch their own yoga classes—and the practice is spreading. Goat yoga events have already popped up in Gilbert, Arizona (with Nigerian mini goats at AZ Goat Yoga), and Boulder, Colorado (through Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga). // Goat Yoga, goatyoga.net; AZ Goat Yoga, azgoatyoga.com; Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga, facebook.com/rockymountaingoatyoga