Two San Francisco yoga studio experiences

Over the past few days, I’ve visited two private yoga studios in San Francisco, thanks to my month-long membership in ClassPass.

Both experiences have had their pros and cons. Now, let me preface this by saying I’m not a yogi, nor a yoga lover. I try to go to one yoga class a week, simply for the benefits of breathing and stretching. Over the years, I’ve tried several different types of yoga (recaps on the blog include: Ashtanga, Bikram, Strala STRONG, Vinyasa, Iyengar), and after all that, I’ve decided that basic power vinyasa yoga is my favorite.

I look for a class in which the moves flow fairly quickly, the teacher offers plenty of modification options to make poses harder or easier and also adjusts participants in the room by walking around and touching. Music playing in the background doesn’t hurt either.

Here are my experiences as of late …

Glow Yoga in North Beach

On Friday last week, I visited Glow Yoga in the North Beach neighborhood for the noon “Happy Friday Flow” class. The studio was located upstairs off a main street in the very busy North Beach neighborhood. 

Glow Yoga North Beach

It was small, included a little lobby, studio, a spa room, a bathroom and some bright artwork on the wall. The ceiling had a sunlight in the lobby, so it seemed very cheery inside on a sunny day.

Glow Yoga North Beach Studio

Glow gets major points for offering lemon-infused water to patrons, as well as some samples of things like whitening toothpaste. Major score. You can bet I took home one of those.

The inside of the studio maintained the cheery vibe.

Glow Yoga Studio North Beach

Sunflowers, paper chandeliers and a gong? Yes, please. 

My favorite part about visiting Glow was that everyone taking class was told to find the mantra sticker that spoke to them on the floor in the studio and set their mat up in front of it. I chose this one …

Glow Yoga Breathe

The class was one-hour in length and was set to the backdrop of upbeat music, even some old-school Madonna tunes, which I enjoyed.

Because the bright studio had a happy vibe, it definitely seemed less stuffy than your average yoga class. The instructor of the day was friendly, welcoming and had a great yoga-teacher voice. However, he did not do any physical adjustments to correct the form of participants (at least not any that I received nor saw), which is something I really appreciate, so that’s a con.

Overall, this was a strong yoga experience. It felt fun and more laid-back than other yoga classes I’ve taken. Not super hard, but hard enough. The instructor gave us time to move at our own pace through a ton of vinyasas and warrior poses, and he provided plenty of options throughout. The room was pretty hot, and I felt like I got a good stretch throughout my body, as well as raised my heart-rate with the difficult balance poses, shoulder stands and back-bends. I took the high options during the whole class and walked out with a light glistening of sweat, feeling like I had done some good for my sore muscles.

Yes, I left happy. Would I go again to Glow Yoga? Maybe so. 

Happy Friday Yoga Class

  • Length: 1 hour
  • Format: Vinyasas, warrior poses, lunges, about 5 minutes of balance work on single legs, quick movements flowing from pose-to-pose, ending with a shoulder stand and a meditation
  • Equipment: Yoga mat rental for $1
  • Suggested outfit: Tight pants and tops, which stay close to the body, bare feet
  • Difficulty level: On a 1 to 10 scale, probably a 6
  • Pros: Studio setting, good music, informal vibe

Power Yoga at The Pad in the Marina

On Monday, I visited another private studio and went to the noon “Power Yoga” class at The Pad in the Marina, which is just a few blocks from the Equinox where I work.

First and foremost, there were about 25 people in the class, and I was one-of-two not outfitted from head-to-toe in Lululemon. Oh, how I love the predictability of the clothing you’ll find on people in the Marina neighborhood.

The Pad Yoga Studio

The Pad is definitely high-end. But it didn’t feel snobby at all. 

The lobby was really cute, decorated with whites and greens, and there were several girls using their laptops on the pads (get it?), taking advantage of the WiFi before class started.

The Pad Studio Marina

What I liked most about The Pad was the studio space itself, which was much larger than I expected.

The Pad Studio

I love the simple words on the walls.

The Pad

The class was not as difficult as many other power yoga classes I’ve taken. While we moved fairly quickly from pose-to-pose, none of the poses were super challenging, and I never felt very winded. I took the high option every time, except for the headstand, and I was super impressed to see about three girls in class dominate their headstands. Way to go!

What stood out to me is that there were about five minutes in the middle of class devoted specifically to ab work. Normally yoga classes will have some core moves at the end, so that seemed like strange placement. I would’ve enjoyed that portion, but because I rented a mat and only used one (normally I use two for extra padding), I felt like my back and knees were digging into the hard-wood floor.

The instructor was a young woman in a cool outfit, who walked around a lot and only demonstrated a pose once or twice. She continued to tell us to stay in the “here and now” rather than going over our to-do lists in our heads, which was a nice reminder. However, once again, like my experience at Glow, she didn’t seem to touch or correct people very much. Sometimes instructors are hesitant because they don’t want to offend people, but I’m all for the touching.

As far as the feel of the class, there was some light modern “Ellie Goulding” type music playing in the background, so it was informal. The room was a moderate temperature, and I didn’t sweat at all, which I normally do in a power yoga class. It didn’t feel very powerful, but I still felt good afterwards. I love the deep breathing, back-bends and chances to move differently than I do in my daily workouts and classes, so overall it was still a worthwhile visit.

The class went by quickly and ended with the standard meditation. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep, as I tend to do in yoga, which makes it a little hard to get up and head back out into the real world after class. 

Would I go again to The Pad? Probably not, but based on its great location and studio space, I can see why it’s so popular.

Power Yoga Class

  • Length: 1 hour
  • Format: Forward folds, standing warrior poses, chair poses, ab work, side planks, lunges, hip openers, back-bends, moving pretty quickly from pose-to-pose, ending with a meditation
  • Equipment: Yoga mat rental for $2 (the mat is complimentary during your first visit)
  • Suggested outfit: Tight pants and tops, which stay close to the body, bare feet
  • Difficulty level: On a 1 to 10 scale, probably a 4
  • Pros: Fancy neighborhood, nice studio space

And that’s my wrap-up of two private yoga studio experiences in San Francisco. These types of studios require booking in advance for classes, in which you can pay-per-class or purchase a package of classes at a reduced rate. Because I’ve always worked at a big gym with plenty of yoga options, I’ve never had a need for a private yoga studio and probably won’t start now. But I’m loving the opportunity to try out all these places with my ClassPass membership.

In case you missed it, I also tried my hand at a Pilates Reformer class at a small studio last week. I have seven chances left with ClassPass this month, so stay tuned to see what I sample next.

And namaste!

* Disclaimer: I attended the classes at Glow Yoga and The Pad for free, as part of my complimentary one-month membership to ClassPass. Learn more about the ClassPass program in San Francisco in my post about the service.

Questions of the day

Do you have a favorite type of yoga? What are some of your wants from a yoga instructor? If you haven’t done yoga, what’s holding you back?

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  1. That’s a really well written out review! I like your style of reviewing things. That may sound cheesy, but you have a good knack for it!

    I think I’d prefer the first place, Glow, too. I love the pictures of it!

  2. I love that you’re reviewing different SF fitness spots! I used to live next to the Pad, and it was my favorite yoga studio in the city for a while. The flow of the class really depends on the instructor so make sure to ask who the most challenging ones are! I found that the SF yoga scene favors a more meditative vs. Power yoga style which is all over LA. I also went to yogaworks on Divisadero but found it a far cry from my old yogaworks studio in Santa Monica. Keep up the great posts, I miss SF!

    1. Hi Anne! Thanks for reading. Yes, I know classes are definitely dependent on teacher. I will consider asking ahead of time in the future. Interesting that the yoga scene is different here. Where are you living now?

  3. Gotta agree with Annette – love the style of your reviews! I like touching too although I think in my first class I wouldn’t want physical corrections. Maybe that holds instructors back? Not physically adjusting placement until they know you a bit better? I’m just speculating. 🙂

    I haven’t been to a “real” yoga class in awhile since I teach BodyFlow. I should though. One of the things I think I’d like about that second studio is that abs were in the middle. That’s how it is in Flow and I love that you get the “reward” of stretching after the hard work before meditation. 🙂 Can’t wait to see more reviews!

  4. I’m with you Ashley, form is super important and if showing someone the proper way means touching/moving them into that way, it should be done. It’s better to have a client performing proper form rather than having everyone else watching you as the trainer, allowing bad form. It not only looks unprofessional, it also won’t give the client the best benefit.

  5. Great reviews! You are really making great use of the ClassPass!
    I’m not much of a yoga buff and I’m also ridiculously inflexible so I think both of them would be hard for me. But I love that both studios have happy and relaxing vibes. A positive mindset is such an important part of a workout!

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