Increasingly there is a trend for studios to offer community yoga classes. I truly think it's about time. There really is no wonder that yoga has fast become an activity for the "upper" class, with trendy expensive mats and yoga wear ruling the studio. At 60$ a month just for once a week classes who else could afford it?
Which is why Lululemon is actually doing alright on this one. The Lululemon in Halifax offers yoga classes every Sunday morning as well as other classes throughout the week- and they are FREE! Of course, I get the marketing ploy here- buy our stuff while you're in the store but really it's a fantastic way to give everyone the opportunity to try yoga. It's also a fantastic way to "test" out different yoga instructors without the pressure of the studio or paying for a class.
It's fantastic to feel like you're part of a community of yogini/yogis getting together to celebrate yoga (kinda like the global mala). Plus these classes are usually more general and as a newbie you're not running the risk of getting yourself into a class that's too advanced.
A downside: these classes are always packed (although what does that say about the need for community yoga classes?). The instructor doesn't have time to adjust or help each student. Usually the mats are about two inches apart and certain asanas are tricky (no swan dive to uttanasana please!).
However, these classes are free and the point is to encourage community. There's really nothing more beautiful than witnessing how an hour and a half of doing yoga together can bring unity and harmony to the ending Ohms. I've found that the only people who have no idea about yoga etiquette (i.e. stepping on other people's mats...) are the actual employees at Lululemon, at least at this specific store.
At these classes I tend to see such a huge range of yogis- it's so wonderful! My favourite was a class where we were trying "One Legged King Pigeon Pose II" (from a low lunge) and I was trying desperately to reach my arm and at least touch my raised back leg- it wasn't really working out all that well. I looked over and there was this older man, in his late fifties, gracefully completing the pose like it was nobody's business. It was ridiculous! Gave me hope really, that age doesn't have to equal stiffness or decreased mobility (cuz really I don't think I can get any less bendy than I am now!).
So I say WOOT to community and free classes and I wish there were more "by donation" classes being done by studios out there! :)