3 Totally Unique Public Yoga Classes in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city known for vice: decadent food, copious drink, and shenanigans of all kinds. But it's also a haven for lovers of health and wellness, and the yoga scene in particular is abuzz. Tourists are welcome and encouraged to take one-off classes at nearly all of New Orleans' many wonderful yoga studios. But if you're looking for an only-in-New-Orleans experience to work into your vacation plans, consider one of these unique yoga options, steeped in art, music, or history.

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    Jazz Yoga at the French Market

    French Market
    ••• Yoga is just one of the many events and activities offered at the ancient, wonderful French Market, which has buzzed with city shoppers since 1791. © Megan Romer, 2014

    Crazy Friday night on Bourbon Street? Detox and rejuvenate with Saturday morning jazz yoga at the historic French Market, the city's oldest public market and the traditional commercial heart of the French Quarter.

    Instructor Susan Landry leads yogis of all levels through a gentle hatha flow and meditative exercises while a jazz pianist provides quiet accompaniment. The classes are indoors in the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park visitor's center, and are thus air-conditioned. 

    Wear comfy clothes and bring your own yoga mat (if you have one; the instructor usually has a couple of extras to lend) to the Jazz NHP Visitor's Center at the French Market. You'll find it about a block downriver from Cafe du Monde, around the back on the river-side of the market building. The class, which takes place most Saturdays at 10:00 am, is free; show up about 10 minutes early to register and get situated.

    For more info, visit the Jazz National Historic Park website.

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    Yoga at the Cabildo

    Front Gallery at the Cabildo
    ••• The Cabildo's front gallery (covered porch) is awash with sunlight and steeped in history. © Megan Romer, 2014

    Enjoy a peaceful and invigorating morning flow in the light-filled gallery of the Cabildo, overlooking Jackson Square. This building, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed, is now a museum, chronicling the history of the state while being a living, breathing exhibit itself.

    Instructor Nina Boasso, who became a yoga teacher after Hurricane Katrina changed her life and outlook, leads the class, which is appropriate for all ability levels. 

    Classes, which are an hour long, take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 8:30-9:30 AM. Dress in yoga-appropriate clothing and bring a mat if you have one (there are some loaners available) and make your way to the Cabildo (it's the building to the immediate left of the St. Louis Cathedral if you're looking at it from the front). Classes cost $12, or $8 for Friends of the Cabildo members, and includes admission to the museum, which is worth browsing once class is over. 

    For more info, visit the Friends of the Cabildo website.

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    Yoga in the Sculpture Garden

    Saint-Gaudens Sculpture: Diana the Huntress
    ••• Augustus Saint-Gaudens' stunning sculpture of Diana the Huntress can inspire your own warrior pose. © Megan Romer, 2014

    Assume an asana and become a living sculpture among the 60+ pieces of art in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art, one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the whole city. 

    Yoga (occasionally interspersed with Pilates) takes place at 8:00 am on Saturdays and costs $5 (free for museum members). Once you've finished your practice, do spend some time among the sculptures, which include pieces by Antoine Bourdelle, Henry Moore, and Louise Bourgeois.

    In case of rain, the class moves into one of the indoor galleries of the permanent collection of the museum.

    Instructors from the East Jefferson Wellness Center also lead Tai Chi classes on Mondays at 6:00 pm in the indoor galleries at NOMA ($5 as well).

    For more info, visit the NOMA website.