About Us

Center for Yoga is the premier studio on the west coast, and one of the top studios in the US. We are committed to  excellence in teaching, service to our community, and meeting our clients where they are to support their personal growth.

 

In the spring of 2021, a group of long-time students of CFY and  neighbors in the Larchmont area came together to reopen this iconic studio. We fully honor the legacy and pioneers who made CFY what it is today. We also look to the future to build a vibrant studio that is relevant and dynamic, and fully in service to our teachers, our students, and our community.
Welcome to Center For Yoga

LA’s Premier Yoga Studio Since 1967

Yoga Classes

Established in 1967, the Center for Yoga is the longest continuously operating yoga studio in Los Angeles.  Center for Yoga is a space where students at any stage in their practice, from novice to expert, can learn, grow, and challenge themselves at their personal level. Through our thoughtfully designed class offerings, students can improve their practice and gain a deeper understanding of the origins and theories of yoga with guidance from the best teachers in the country.

Our Vision

To continually restore the breath, rejuvenate the body, revive the spirit, and renew our community.

Our Mission

The Center of Yoga pursues an eclectic, inclusive, and non-dogmatic approach to the study of hatha yoga as taught by the most outstanding teachers in the various yoga traditions. Community owned and operated, the Center offers classes in a wide range of yoga styles and encourages each student to use the full depth and breadth of hatha yoga heritage to explore a personal path toward self-transformation.

The History of CFY and Our Building

The Center for Yoga and our creaky old building has a unique and wonderful history. This building was conceived, designed, and built as sacred space to facilitate community, movement, and personal growth. We are so thrilled to become the stewards of this building and this remarkable studio for the next chapter of its life.  We hold our responsibility with joy and gratitude.

front of building

The Masonic Temple of Los Angeles:

The three-story building at 230 1/2 N Larchmont was built in 1925 as a home for the Mason’s Grand Lodge #614 of California, joining a new business district called Larchmont Village founded in 1921. Masons were local merchants, craftsmen, and community leaders – only male – so it was common for Masonic buildings of the era to have commercial shops on the first floor while “temples” were located above the ground level. Temple windows — if they existed — were either stained glass or built well above eye level to ensure privacy. These large spaces with high ceilings often included raised platforms on their periphery where leaders would be seated on elaborate thrones during ceremonies. The center of the floor often featured a ceremonial altar and most members were seated around the altar on the same level. A brick layer could be next to a banker; all were considered equals as Masons.

big room
The "Big Room"

The Mason’s main temple room was on the second floor in what we now call the “Big Room”. The stages, the ceremonial balcony (which was originally open to the floor below), and the high windows are leftovers from the original Masonic temple design.

 

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Members of the Grand Masonic Lodge of California, October 10, 1940

The Masons also had a kitchen on the third floor to facilitate their dinners. The building served as the Masonic Temple until 1961 when six Los Angeles-based Masonic Lodges combined and relocated to a large new lodge on Wilshire Boulevard between Lucerne and Plymouth.

 

Fred Astaire Dance Studio:

From 1961-1979 these spaces became the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Fred Astaire (born Frederick Austerlitz; 1899-1987) was an American dancer, actor, singer, choreographer, and television presenter. He is widely considered the greatest dancer in film history.

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Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

This image, taken from the movie Top Hat (1935), features Astaire with his long-time dancing partner Ginger Rogers. The film was shot mere blocks away at the RKO Gower Studios on the corner of Melrose and Gower. Today, the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, Inc. is a ballroom dance franchise chain in the United States and Canada, named after and co-founded by Astaire in 1947.

 

The Center for Yoga:

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Ganga White

More than 50 years ago, in 1979, Ganga White took over the building at 230 ½ N Larchmont to open the Center for Yoga, which he founded at a nearby location in 1967. This building was the Center for Yoga’s third location. With a focus on hatha-vinyasa yoga, Ganga has been called one of the “architects of American yoga” and a “pioneer of yoga” by Yoga Journal. He is the creator of “flow yoga” and has made enduring contributions to the field. In his celebrated career, Ganga has taught continuously while owning and running five centers and three ashrams, all dedicated to the practice of yoga.

 

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Jake Jacobson

Jake Jacobson was a student of Ganga White at the Center and became a certified yoga instructor in the 1980s. He purchased the studio in 1988 when Ganga left to open the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara. From Jake, “The Center for Yoga is one of the first, largest, and best yoga studios in the nation. It – along with the White Lotus Foundation – has set the standard for teaching yoga. The fulfillment and enjoyment I have been so fortunate to receive from yoga and the Center have been among the greatest benefits of my life.” (Photo by Jake Jacobson)

 

Lisa Haase
Lisa Haase

Lisa Haase did her first teacher training at the Center in 1998, apprenticing under Diana Beardsley. She became its director during that time, and subsequently purchased the studio from Jake Jacobson in 2001. In 2004, she sold the studio to Yoga Works and became their LA Regional Manager for many years. Lisa’s love and dedication to yoga continues through her own practice and teaching. The Center will forever be her touchstone. (Photo by Eden Fischer)

 

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Maty Ezraty, CFY teacher, Founder of YogaWorks

YogaWorks:  Maty Ezraty (1963-2019) began her international yoga career as a teacher, and later director of the Center for Yoga. She left to open YogaWorks in 1987 which she co-owned with her partner Chuck Miller until they sold it in 2004. She practiced Ashtanga yoga, where each movement is linked to an inhale or an exhale. Maty’s colleague, Lisa Walford, introduced her to Iyengar, a school focused on precision and alignment. Maty and Chuck created a synthesis of Ashtanga and Iyengar, which became the signature YogaWorks method. In 2004, YogaWorks purchased the Center for Yoga, operating the studio until its closing in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by James Wvinner)

In 2021 a coalition of former CFY staff, students, neighbors and teachers came together to reclaim this historic space that has been a pillar of the Larchmont business district for decades. The new Center for Yoga is owned by a small group of investors and founders with no single individual owning a controlling interest.  However, it is majority owned by women.  Lisa Walford, who started her yoga practice and teaching career at Center for Yoga in 1982 and is one of the most influential teachers in the country, returns as the CFY Director of Curriculum and an owner. The community came together to support this effort with hundreds of volunteer hours in design, marketing, legal advice, and technology.

“Reopening the Center for Yoga in its longtime home is a tribute and testament to the generations of students, teachers, and larger community who are an integral part of its enduring legacy,” said Randy Paskal, Board President, at its ribbon cutting.

Comm Owners
Student/Teacher/Neighbor Coalition

L-R: Michael Barton (founder/owner), Randy Paskal (President/owner), Ross Smith (Chief Technology Officer/owner), Lisa Bellamore (marketing and PR volunteer extraordinaire), Greg Lindy (logo and identity designer), Jae Yoo (founder/owner and real estate guru), Diana Buckhantz (owner and 20 year student), Lisa Walford (owner and Director of Curriculum), Sam Doniger (owner and social media master), and Katharine DeShaw (founder/owner). Photo by Mark McConnell

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