Just about every Tuesday, I lug my yoga mat to work in a backpack about half it's size. It's unsightly, with the green foam of my mat pressed up against the back of my head, but a great conversation starter. Everyone wants to know how my yoga class was or which one I'm heading to. I'm grateful that it's not that strange of a sight in SF.
When I tell people where I'm headed - to Grace Cathedral yoga after work - most know what I'm talking about. In fact, quite a few say, "Oh, I've been meaning to check that out. I just don't know anything about it."
Well, I'm here to fix that! If you've wanted to check out Grace Cathedral yoga (also known as "yoga on the labyrinth"), but haven't been sure how to get started, this post is for you. I wanted to break it down 101-style, so that as the new year starts, so can your new weekly yoga practice at Grace!
Anyone is welcome!
The mantra of the program is “Yoga for Everyone,” which is why they operate under a “pay what you can” donation-based model. I generally donate about $5 a week, but hope to amp my contribution up to at least $10 in 2018.
This 75-minute program may seem long for a yoga class, but I see it as fulfilling five of my core needs: stretching, meditation, spirituality, community, and active movement.
The class begins with opening words from the church’s pastor. There is always a theme, and the sentiment is almost always spiritual and non-denominational. They know their San Francisco audience.
Then, the instructor (Darren) says a few words on the theme and begins by guiding the class through some initial breath work.
From there, we get into the yoga, which encompasses about 45 minutes of the class. We always move from standing to laying poses, with a break in between for meditation. The difficulty level is squarely beginner. I took my 70 year-old grandma to the class, and she held her own.
Finally, the class wraps with Shivasana, seven “om’s,” and a few final words on the theme.
There is always beautiful live music.
In the main labyrinth (replete with stained glass windows and gothic architecture) of the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California.
It’s located on top of Nob Hill at the intersection of Taylor and California. You can take the 1 bus line to get there or walk up the hill for a good pre-yoga workout, like me.
Every Tuesday at 6:15 pm to 7:30 pm. Note that the program pauses from mid-November to the beginning of the new year, so check if you’d like to go in that time frame.
In true SF spirit, this is a program to make yoga accessible to the people. Yoga studios are expensive, and that should not be a reason for folks not to experience it’s amazing effects. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful space to practice in.
Since beginning my practice at Grace over a year ago, I’ve made it a weekly social event. Most Tuesdays, I have a friend meet me at the church, where we catch up before class and then walk home together, sometimes even making dinner together. It’s a fabulous alternative to grabbing a glass of wine when you're trying to give your body a break.
But on the most personal level, yoga is where I go to feel better. On a bad day, it helps with my anxiety or sadness (more on that here). On a good day, it helps me grow outside myself and cultivate perspective and love for the world. And I love that I am surrounded by others who are doing the same.
Since this is a popular program in SF, the church fills up quickly and consistently. I try to arrive by 6 pm at the latest, in order to grab a good spot near the center. If it’s your first time, just ask one of the many volunteer aids to help you find a spot. If you end up going a lot, you’ll carve out a little niche pretty quickly.
I hope this 101 inspires you to try your first class! I hope it becomes your weekly practice; one that grounds you like it grounds me. However, if the above still isn't enough to get you comfortable with showing up on your own, just reach out and I'll join you! Even if we've never met, I would be honored to accompany to your first yoga practice at Grace.