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Yoga Isla Vista Connects Community by Encouraging 'Conscious, Happy' Members

By Kelly Church

Right near the beaches of Santa Barbara, Yoga Isla Vista practices the ancient yoga techniques taught by some of the first teachers of yoga. The Isla Vista yoga studio offers yoga for beginners and advanced students, yoga flow and more. Studio manager Chelsea Leopardi said the owners John and Julia Smart were longtime residents of Santa Barbara County and opened the studio as an effort to become more connected to their community.

"We wanted to create a space where full-time Isla Vista residents and UCSB students can come together to share ancient yogic teachings that help us grow as individuals; to become kind, conscious, happy and healthy beings," Leopardi said. "It is our belief that when individuals come together to share our practice, the community and planet become more kind, conscious, happy and healthy as a result."

Leopardi said students that want a yoga experience that is welcoming and makes you feel at home when you walk into the studio should try Yoga Isla Vista. Classes include beginner yoga, slow flow, vinyasa levels one and two, vinyasa levels two and three, yin yoga and hatha yoga.

The studio also offers kundalini yoga, following the teachings of Yogi Bhajan, an originator of kundalini yoga. This class is designed to enhance one's awareness, improve the nervous and glandular systems in the body, and balance chakras. It utilizes movement, sound, meditation and more to energize the full body.

Yoga body is another class featured at Yoga Isla Vista. Described as a "zesty" yoga class, this hour features traditional vinyasa poses and active movements to improve core strength and tone the body. Music is more upbeat, but students still get to savor moments of relaxation at the end of the class. Students with all levels of experience are welcomed in the yoga body class.

"We believe that yoga is for everyone and, with that in mind, attempt to tailor our schedule to fit the various needs of our diverse client base," Leopardi said. "Our goal is to introduce the practice of yoga to as many people as possible and then to guide individuals deeper into their practice."

About half of the teachers at Yoga Isla Vista are students at University of California Santa Barbara, giving them a unique perspective that relates to the lifestyles of many students at the studio. The other half are longtime yoga instructors, bringing years of knowledge and experience to the studio. All teachers, however, are highly trained.

Drop-in rates for a single class at Yoga Isla Vista is $15, but there are multiple packages available for those who want unlimited yoga or to purchase bundles. To learn more about Yoga Isla Vista and see an updated class schedule, visit ygoaislavista.com.

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