Santa Monica Yoga is one of a growing number of studios joing the Passport to Prana website, which offers discounts to interested students. (photo by Daniel Archuleta)

SUNSET PARK — Five minutes before I leave the office for the day, I’m busy wrapping things up and contemplating on whether or not I should go to the gym. My poor bottom deserves it after eight hours of sitting on it, but thinking about the treadmill and fluorescent lighting, I feel more numb — just like my unattended bottom.

Feeling like a zombie at that point, I come up with ideas on how to energize my body and mind, outside of the usual routine.

The answer to my needs — Passport to Prana, the ticket for a sweet little yoga escape and a change of environment and experience each visit. If the yoga enthusiast in you has got you interested, get your mat ready and that essential downward-facing dog skill you’ve got.

For $30, an access card can be purchased which allows one to visit 35 participating yoga studios in the Los Angeles area. Do the math; that’s less than a dollar per class. Considering the average cost of a class can range from about $12 to $20, it’s definitely a steal.

You’ll probably add up a lot of carbon footprints trying to benefit from the different classes all over Los Angeles, so I would suggest organizing a carpool or mapping out the public transportation system. Luckily, there are four participating studios in Santa Monica and one in Venice, if you want to keep it local. There are also some studios in Culver City and Malibu included.

A couple months ago one morning, Sarah Morquecho of Los Angeles did her regular email check shortly after arriving at her office. She opened a newsletter from Vital Juice, saw Passport to Prana’s feature and jumped at the chance to explore the yoga world. After her discovery, she shares her experience with me via email.

“Since I am new to the world of yoga, the passport gives me the opportunity to try out an explore various styles of yoga that I wouldn’t have tried out or been able to afford, if I was tied down to one studio,” said the 25 year old, who visited a Hatha class in West Hollywood and Bikram class in Downtown Los Angeles.

After a long day at the office, Morquecho sees some benefits.

“I leave feeling relaxed and clear-headed,” she said. “It melts away stress from a long day’s work and helps me unwind, [because] the combination of experienced yogis, a soothing environment, self-reflection through mediation, and exercise/breathing techniques.”

Vinyasa instructor, Alex Richmond, at the Hub-LA in West Los Angeles — one of the 35 participating studios — recommends the card for someone who is exploring the yoga world of Los Angeles or is new to the city.

“I think its good for people, if its in a city that they’ve never been to and they’re trying out different classes,” said the 23-year-old yoga instructor. “Even if it’s the city they already know, it’s good to get a good scope of different studios.”

Passport to Prana cards are not only available in Los Angeles, but in 14 major cities across the country and eight cities in Canada, which might be of interest if you’re on a business trip or visiting one of the cities for some time. If Richmond ever plans a trip to New York City, he would consider.

“If I went to New York for an extended period of time, I would be interested, just so I can see what they have going on over there,” he said.

Richmond, who believes yoga should be affordable, gives his advice for future cardholders that are soon to explore different studios in Los Angeles.

“Don’t get caught up if you don’t have a good experience in the class and be open to try any classes and different styles that fit you best, because there’s so many out there,” he said.

You can check out the full list on their website and get more information on how it works. For this year’s cycle, the card expires Nov. 30, 2011. For the 2012 year, a new list of participating studios and expiration date will be announced.

Passport to Prana is a Toronto-based company, created in 2005 by YuMee Chung, a former securities lawyer who left the world of corporate law to engage more deeply with life. Her goal in creating the company is to make yoga accessible to everyone regardless of economic background.

Now, time to unify your body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Ahhhh, better.


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