California has long enjoyed a reputation as a mecca for spiritual sorts, and those who practice yoga and meditation flock to the state to train. What about residents who simply wish to head out on their own to practice? Is there anywhere in the bustling City of Angels where peace and quiet reign supreme?
Actually, yes. The city contains a host of beautiful outdoor recreation areas, beaches and parks where solo practitioners or those needing a little R&R can retreat to breathe in the fresh air deeply. On brutally hot summer days, the city boasts multiple cultural and community centers where people can find both cool and zen.
1. The Blue Ribbon Garden
Nestled on the rooftop of the Walt Disney Concert Hall lies a beautiful spot of silence and solitude. The park features a gorgeous lotus sculpture, along with a host of flowering plants, trees and statuary.
Too crowded in the zen garden? The center also operates the adjacent Grand Park, a 12-acre green space. Even given the city’s burgeoning population, with all that acreage, visitors are sure to find a quiet corner all their own to enjoy practicing meditation and yoga.
2. Hare Krishna Cultural Center
Vegetarians will adore the fact that the Hare Krishna Cultural Center distributes sanctified vegetarian foods to those in need. The temple area is open to the public, so anyone can enter and meditate in silence. The center runs several festivals and events throughout the year for people looking to meet new friends in the area.
Those seeking a quick, healthy lunch after meditating can stop by Govinda’s Buffet for cruelty-free, GMO-free food. The menu is available on the website, and it looks delicious.
3. Malibu Creek State Park
Nestled in the Santa Monica mountains, Malibu Creek State Park is open daily from 8 a.m to 10 p.m. The park lies only 25 miles outside the city, so getting there proves relatively easy. Miles of trails beacon meditative types to stroll through nature’s beauty while raising their awareness. Wildflowers, butterflies, deer, and coyote can be common friends that can be seen in your blissful state.
An hourly parking pass costs only $3, so those low on cash still can enjoy the center’s breathtaking natural beauty or park on the street nearby and walk. Many movies have been filmed at this location, so who knows — Brad Pitt or some other celeb could be out on the trails.
4. Stough Canyon Nature Center
A hidden gem located in Burbank, California, the Stough Canyon Nature Center teaches members of the public about the native flora and fauna of the region. Those seeking a quiet place to meditate or do yoga will love the park, too. It offers classes led by certified instructors including yogis so those looking to expand their own practices can take full advantage.
5. Deane Dana Friendship Park and Nature Center
Hit the Deane Dana Friendship Park and Nature Center this weekend and take a brisk hike to get those quads and hamstrings working, then find a quiet ocean-view spot to practice downward-facing dog. Meditative moms with little ones can enroll them in one of the center’s educational programs to keep the kiddos busy while she finds her inner zen.
6. Echo Park Lake
Those preferring lake to ocean views will love Echo State Park. The vistas surrounding the waterways can’t be beat. Plus, the convenient location with nearby skate parks, pools and water parks offers older children entertainment while parents enjoy their practice. The area also boasts paddle boats and concessions, so treat junior to a fun spin around the lake followed by a tasty snack to enjoy family time after finding inner peace.
7. Westside Jewish Community Center
Jewish community centers across the nation have long boasted a world of activities on the cheap for people of all ages, and the Westside Jewish Community Center proves no exception. It offers a wide range of fitness classes as well as tons of activities for the kiddos. The center hosts classes for seniors and those with special needs, so anyone, regardless of age or ability level, can participate. Monthly rates for an entire family ring in at just $40, so working parents hitting an after-hours yoga class can enroll the little ones in an age-appropriate activity at the same time.
8. Runyon Canyon Yoga
What more could you want than donation-based outdoor yoga at the bottom of grassy Runyon Canyon? Find your Zen on your mat staring up at palm trees while butterflies flit around, gophers pop up around you, and warm breezes remind you why you moved here. The instructors all have different styles. Some help you with breathwork, end with a sound bath, or offer a more boot camp yoga class to help with endurance. Yogi Daniel Overberger provides a nice relaxing flow and is really funny.
Find Yogi Daniel’s Zen’d out class called Black Market Yoga also at another cool location – The Women’s Club of Hollywood which has been a part of Hollywood history for over 100 years. The club’s early years featured a variety of famous performers, including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford. Chaplin’s piano remains on the stage to this day. Daniel yoga classes in the dark auditorium room are complete with great tunes and his own guitar. Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 pm at 1749 N. La Brea Ave in Hollywood. Donation cost: $5 – $15+
Finding Zen in the City of Angels
Many outsiders associate Los Angeles with movie stars and busy streets, but the area comes complete with a full range of beautiful natural areas, parks, and centers for those of a spiritual mindset as well. It’s possible to find awareness and zen in one of the biggest and best cities in the West.