Outdoor yoga 2012: Where to do free yoga in New York

Find out where to do outdoor yoga in New York, and stretch out in the sunshine at a free yoga class.

Photograph: Pat Young

Photograph: Pat Young

No need to be cooped up in a sweaty studio this summer; get some fresh air while doing outdoor yoga in New York. We've rounded up eight free yoga classes for you to try in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan to help you stretch, breathe and balance your way through the season.

RECOMMENDED: Outdoor yoga guide 2013 

Bryant Park Yoga and Prospect Park Yoga

  • Free

Make use of those $98 Lululemon yoga pants you just bought with these free vinyasa classes organized by the funky yoga-apparel line. Mats are provided at the Bryant Park sessions (42nd St at Sixth Ave; 212-768-4242, bryantpark.org. Tue 10am–11am, Thu 6–7pm; free. Through Sept 27.), which are taught by more than 15 instructors from various studios including Pure Yoga, YogaWorks and Sonic Yoga. Hundreds of people take part in the hour-long practices, so arrive early to stake out your favorite spot on the park’s picturesque westward-facing lawn. Lululemon has also partnered with Bend & Bloom Yoga to organize the weekly classes in Prospect Park’s expansive Long Meadow (enter at 9th St and Prospect Park West, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 347-987-3162, bendandbloom.com. Thu 7–8pm; free. Through Sept 6.), which draw 60 to 80 participants to each session as well as instructors from studios such as Yoga Sole, Park Slope Yoga and Abhaya Yoga. Though the sessions are considered open-level, beginners might have a tough time keeping up—it’s no walk in the park!

  1. Bryant Park and Prospect Park

Sunset Yoga in Fort Tryon Park

Salute the setting sun at these open-level twilight classes on Abby’s Lawn. The free sessions are led by seven rotating instructors from studios including MindBodySoul Yoga and Beloved Yogi Harlem, so expect a variety of styles and practices. BYO mat or towel, and follow @nancercize on Twitter to keep abreast of weather-related cancellations. (212-795-1388, forttryonparktrust.org).

  1. Cabrini Blvd, (at Fort Washington Ave)
More info

Yoga in Socrates Sculpture Park

  • Free

With programming that includes capoeira, film screenings and Shakespeare performances, Socrates Sculpture Park has come a long way since its days as a landfill. Show up to the earlier 9:30am class for a smaller, more intimate group (and a better chance of hearing the instructor) than you’ll find at the 11am session. Monique Schubert, who taught the same series last year, leads the group through a gentle flow and always takes time to demonstrate the poses; she focuses on the Kripalu system of hatha yoga, which incorporates postures, breathing, relaxation and meditation. (718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org).

  1. 32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens
More info

Summer in the Square

  • Free

On Thursday mornings, make use of free fitness, music and other—often kid-friendly—activities organized by local advocacy group Union Square Partnership. Bring your own mat to limber up for the day with around 20 to 30 others in the South Plaza, during 9am vinyasa classes led by Clay Health Club + Spa. The yoga sessions take place on alternating weeks beginning June 14; on June 21, July 12 and 26, and August 9 instructors will offer the health club’s POWERhour fitness class instead. If you fit the demographic, stick around afterwards for Bija Kids’ all-ages Mommy & Me Yoga at 10am in Evelyn’s Playground. (unionsquarenyc.org).

  1. Union Square East between 14th and 17th Sts
  2. Thu 9am–10am. Jun 14–Aug 9

Yoga in Community Gardens

  • Free

The New York Restoration Project, which has successfully beautified 52 community gardens across the five boroughs, offers intimate open-air workouts every Saturday in two locations. Instructors hailing from Harlem Yoga Studio and Brooklyn Holistic like to incorporate the bucolic setting; Harlem Yoga Studio’s Erica Barth says that they “call students’ attention not only to the union between body and breath, but also to the union with nature, incorporating the feel of the sun and breeze on their skin, and the earth beneath them.” Target East Harlem Community Garden, 415-417 117th St between First and Pleasant Aves • Garden of Hope, 392 Hancock St between Sumner and Throop Aves, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. (212-333-2552, nyrp.org).

  1. Target East Harlem Community Garden and Garden of Hope
  2. Sat 11am–noon. Through Sept 29

Laughing Lotus beneath the High Line

  • Free

On Saturdays, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center leads a family-friendly version of its signature Lotus Flow vinyasa class in the Meatpacking District’s unsung 14th Street Park, situated beneath the High Line. Bring the whole family and your own mats (or just stretch out directly on the grass) to enjoy the upbeat, music-accompanied teaching style of LLYC’s staff, all of whom have youth training experience. Seasoned practitioners should not expect to be challenged; instead, consider it a chance to introduce your passion to the uninitiated yogis in your life. (212-414-2903, laughinglotus.com).

  1. 14th Street Park, 14th St at Tenth Ave
  2. Sat 9–10am. Jun 9–Aug 25

Yoga in Gantry Plaza State Park

  • Free

This 12-acre park on the East River is walking distance from Court Square’s E, M, G and 7 trains, which makes it easy for Manhattan and Brooklyn yogis to attend. “Our students have been asking about the outdoor classes all spring, so we’re very excited to work with the Parks Department again to coordinate them,” organizer Jennifer Batson tells us.

  1. Pier One, Gantry Plaza State Park, 48th Ave at the East River, Long Island City, Queens
More info

YogaSole in Prospect Park

  • Free

Tote your own mat to YogaSole’s alfresco Sunday morning vinyasa classes, taking place through the month of July. Designed for all skill levels, these classes focus on building endurance, improving flexibility and elevating self-awareness. There’s also a little inversion thrown in for the more experienced yogis in attendance. (718-541-1382, yogasole.com).

  1. Meet at Bartel-Pritchard Square, Prospect Park West at Prospect Park Southwest
  2. Sun 10am–11am. July 1–29