Budget Travel Zen: 10 Free/Donation-Based Yoga Studios In The US

free yoga

Knotted shoulders… stiff necks… flight delay anxiety… pent-up aggression toward the armrest-hogger seated next to you on the plane. Travel certainly has its ways of winding you up, and there’s nothing like a great yoga class to wind back down. But with trendy studios charging upwards of $25 per class, it can be difficult to find a practice that doesn’t exceed your daily travel budget. These ten free or donation-based yoga studios allow you to pay what you can, and many of them come with a welcoming community that can help you stay grounded throughout your trip.

Asheville Community Yoga, Asheville, North Carolina
Based on the concept of Karma Yoga, Asheville Community Yoga is a non-profit organization offering a wide variety of free classes, including vinyasa, ashtanga, hatha, yin, restorative, core and various kinds of flow. The center also offers special workshops like “Spring Detox Hot Flow” and “Yoga for Healthy Knees.” Though classes are free for those who truly can’t afford to pay, a “Love Offering” of $5-15 per class is requested. 8 Brookdale Rd. Ste. A, Asheville.

Yoga to the People, New York, New York; Seattle, Washington; San Francisco and Berkeley, California
With nine studios in four cities, Yoga to the People believes that the transformative power of yoga should be available to everyone. Studios offer a mix of power vinyasa flow, traditional hot yoga and hot vinyasa classes. Suggested donation is $10 for vinyasa classes, while hot yoga is available for a flat fee of $8. Click here for locations.Moonlit Yoga, Portland, Oregon
There’s no better way to spend a Saturday evening than with yoga, tea and candlelight. The weekly Moonlit Yoga series, hosted at various studios throughout Portland, is open to yogis of all levels, with a sliding scale donation suggestion of $6-10. Check Facebook for each week’s location.

Black Swan Yoga, Austin, Texas
Black Swan offers a smorgasbord of hatha, vinyasa, power, sweaty and intriguing “candle sweaty” classes at their two studios in Downtown and South Side. Suggested donation is $10-15. 1114 West 5th St. and 4534 Westgate Blvd., Austin.

One Yoga Foundation, Miami, Florida
Enjoy your practice in a park under the sun through the One Yoga Foundation, which offers free outdoor classes in green spaces around Miami and its surroundings. Donations support the organization’s efforts to bring yoga to special needs communities. Click here for locations.

Circle Yoga, Washington, DC
The Circle Yoga Cooperative offers a range of free community classes, meditation sessions and workshops with donations benefiting the teacher’s charity of choice. Their sister studio, Budding Yogis, also offers classes for children and families. 3838 Northampton St. NW, Washington, DC.

Urban Flow Yoga, San Francisco, California
Urban Flow Yoga in the Mission District provides donation-based yoga classes by Bhakti Flow certified instructors as well as community outreach programs. Recommended donation is $10-20. 1543 Mission Street, San Francisco.

Studio 34, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In addition to its regular and reduced rate community classes, Studio 34 offers a handful of “Pay What You Can” yoga classes incorporating the Forrest method, which emphasizes breath, active sequences and longer holding of poses. 4522 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia.

Health Yoga Life, Boston, Massachusetts
The yogis at Health Yoga Life encourage participants to “Occupy Yourself” with their accessible, open-level, donation-based vinyasa flow community classes. Drop-ins welcome. 12 Temple St., Boston.

Lululemon Athletica In-Store Classes, Nationwide
If you can deal with being surrounded by pricy merchandise during your practice, you can take advantage of yoga superstore Lululemon’s rotating schedule of free yoga classes from local instructors. Select locations also offer programs like run clubs and motivation seminars. Click here to find your nearest location.

Yoga For Travelers

[Flickr image via lululemon athletica]

Find hotel deals with new booking site Guestmob

hotel deals guestmob collectionsThe Internet has brought us many ways to research and book hotels at prices much lower than the hotels’ published rate. Aggregate sites like Kayak and Orbitz give you the best available rate (BAR) without pre-payment on a specific hotel, while “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire allow you to bid for a room below BAR but the actual property remains hidden until after you book and the purchase is non-refundable. Now a new booking site offers you hotel deals well below BAR while ensuring consumers flexibility and a standard of quality.

Guestmob differs from other hotel booking sites by combining high-tech algorithmic pricing and expertly curated properties hand-picked for their high user ratings. The site works by grouping hotels into collections of four to eight properties in a given category and neighborhood. You enter your travel dates and can immediately see a room rate of up to 50% below BAR for each hotel collection. The Thursday before you check in, the exact hotel is revealed but you are guaranteed one of the specific hotels in the collection. Best of all, unlike other opaque booking sites, you can cancel your reservation up to three days before check-in.hotel deals guestmob booking pagePreviously, some savvy travelers have tried to “game the system” with sites like Bidding for Travel, a forum that tries to guess winning bids and participating hotels on opaque sites by sharing successful bookings. Guestmob removes the need for this research by specifying hotels in each collection and immediately offering a deeply discounted price. While room upgrades, frequent guest points and other requests are still at the discretion of the hotel upon check-in, it’s still a great option for travelers with flexibility.

A Guestmob search for a hotel in Chicago on a weekend in mid-May yielded a price of $164 for a 3.5 star hotel on Magnificent Mile (such as a Courtyard or Embassy Suites), or $203 to bump up to a 4 star in the same area such as a W or Westin Hotel. The same properties ranged from $221 to $279 on other sites. Most Guestmob hotels are part of well-known chains such as Marriott or Starwood, or smaller chains like Kimpton and JDV.

Guestmob soft-launched last year in San Francisco and has now expanded to include New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Portland and Phoenix. The site is well connected to social media so you can get help, learn news or give feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can also chat with them right on the site if you have questions.

Virgin America expands with service to Philadelphia

Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love Virgin America. The California-based airline has announced that starting April 4, 2012, they will offer three daily nonstop flights from Philadelphia (PHL) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and two daily nonstop flights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) starting April 10, 2012.

Connecting flights will also be available from PHL to Virgin America’s San Diego, Seattle and Las Vegas destinations. “This is a great development for the entire Philadelphia region, including northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “New airline service not only lowers fares for travelers, but it is also a major economic driver – stimulating business travel, tourism and local job growth. Virgin America’s new flights also validate the strong and growing business travel link between our region’s innovation-based sectors and those on the West Coast.”

At a time when most airlines are cutting capacity, Virgin America will bring much needed nonstop competition from California’s largest airports to PHL. Currently, only legacy carriers serve the West Coast-PHL routes nonstop. When entering markets that offer little low-fare competition, Virgin America has historically seen fares drop by up to one-third. In addition, 50% of travelers flying from PHL to the Los Angeles market now use connecting flights and 45% of those traveling from PHL to the San Francisco Bay Area are connecting passengers.

The PHL announcement was first shared with the carrier’s social media fans earlier today, via a video that spotted the mysterious ‘Greenman’ from the FX television show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” near a Virgin America aircraft.
To kick off the fares, the airline is offering a “The City of Brotherly Love: Just Got Lovelier” sale, with PHL-LAX fares from $129 and PHL-SFO fares from $149 each way.

Philadelphia’s trash and glass garden

Philadelphia's Magic GardensMade entirely of found objects and contributions from the community, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a folk art environment that showcases the work of mosaicist Isaiah Zagar.

In 1968, Zagar and his wife came to Philadelphia after spending three years with the Peace Corps in Peru. Creating folk art all around his new city, he took an entire rowhouse on South Street and covered it with mosaics, over 3000 square feet of them, that include pieces of mirror and original poetry.

Featured by The New York Times as one of the top five Philadelphia attractions, the Gardens provide a truly unique setting for a wide variety of activities.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens offers monthly workshops with the artist himself where Zagar teaches two full days of breaking tile, cutting mirror, gluing tile and grouting. Over a weekend, students work on a mosaic from conception to completion.

Educational opportunities help visitors understand and appreciate Zagar’s works of art, mosaic and visionary environments, and Philadelphia history. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a nonprofit organization that relies mainly on contributions from individuals for its activities.

Open every day, admission is $5 for adults, $2 for ages 6-12, free for children 5 and under.

Photo: Elizabeth J Bird

Host and experience budget-friendly local tours all over the United States

budget travel central park new yorkHipHost, a new “peer-to-peer marketplace for socially-hosted local tours“, not only gives travelers a way to experience new cities from a local’s point of view, but also gives people an opportunity to make extra cash.

Anyone who wants to share their local knowledge can be a HipHost and design a tour based on anything they find interesting. Some tour topics include art, culture, fitness, architecture, history, hiking, markets, music, and more. It’s free to sign-up and guests pay for tours in advance, so hosts don’t have to worry about losing money to no-shows.

Moreover, anyone interested in learning about a topic can search for affordable tours and see a region from a local perspective without paying big tour company prices. Afraid you won’t enjoy your tour? HipHost guarantees a full refund if customers are not satisfied.

Some of the many tours being featured right now include:

And many, many more. Click here to sign-up for and/or host a tour.