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Barter Your Time for Free Yoga

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page M08

My neck pain had dissipated, and I was sleeping better -- all thanks to yoga. But at up to $20 a class, my bank account was still hurting. That's why I jumped at the chance to save some cash when I saw a sign advertising a work-exchange program at Boundless Yoga Studio. For six months, I've signed in students, answered questions and done a little tidying around the studio. In return I've earned free classes -- not a bad deal for my health, my checkbook . . . or the studio. Turns out that many yoga spots are independently owned operations without a lot of extra money. "I don't know if I'd be able to run my business without work exchange," said Debra Perlson, owner of seven-month-old Flow Yoga Center. "I'm just breaking even now."

Studios welcome both novices and seasoned yogis, and tasks range from cleaning mats to passing out fliers to managing databases. Vladimir Shioshvili, 26, cleans after classes twice a week at Bikram Yoga Dupont. "It doesn't take that much commitment," he said. "You get to know the teachers on a personal level and get to know about yoga." Here are some places where you can get to work.

Awesome aura: Dustin Brumit, 24, says he and fellow work exchangers feel a sense of community at Boundless Yoga. (J Carrier For The Washington Post)

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BIKRAM YOGA DUPONT. 1635 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-332-8680. www.bikramyogadc.com. This style of yoga, founded by Bikram Choudhury, focuses on 26 postures done in a studio heated up to 110 degrees. (The theory: Heat makes the body more flexible.) The work-to-class exchange ratio at this small and downtown-convenient space depends on the tasks performed.

BOUNDLESS YOGA STUDIO. 1522 U St. NW. 202-234-9642. www.boundlessyoga.com. This studio offers breath-focused hatha yoga as well as a few vinyasa, or "flow yoga," classes that seamlessly flow together asanas (poses). Two hours of work equals a one-hour class and a 20 percent merchandise discount. Most classes are small enough for students to get feedback from the attentive teachers.

FLOW YOGA CENTER. 1450 P St. NW. 202-462-3569. www.flowyogacenter.com One hour of work equals a 1 1/4-hour vinyasa class and a 15 percent discount on merchandise. The studio, next door to Whole Foods, also offers Afro-Brazilian dance and Pilates.

SPIRAL FLIGHT. 1826 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-965-1645. www.spiralflightyoga.com. Anusara yoga, which focuses on alignment and has more of a spiritual bent, is practiced at this upper-Georgetown studio -- billed as one of the District's first yoga centers. An hour of work equals one class (most are 1 1/4-hour long).

STUDIO SERENITY. 2469 18th St. NW. 202-276-6474. www.studioserenity.com. One hour of work equals a 1 1/2-hour hot vinyasa class at this Adams Morgan studio. (The rooms are heated to 90 degrees.) Outdoor classes in Cleveland Park are offered, weather permitting.

SUN AND MOON YOGA STUDIOS. 3811 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 9998 Main St., Fairfax. 703-525-9642. www.sunandmoonstudio.com. Two hours of work equals a 1 1/2-hour hatha class. Sun and Moon also has an extensive teacher training program.

TRANQUIL SPACE. 2024 P St. NW, 202-223-9642; 7611 Clarendon Rd., Bethesda, 301-254-8228. www.tranquilspace.com. One hour of work equals one class (they offer primarily 1 1/4-hour vinyasa sessions) and a 25 percent discount on events and boutique items. Started in owner Kimberly Wilson's one-bedroom apartment, Tranquil Space now has two locations and an in-studio and online boutique.

UNITY WOODS YOGA CENTER. Multiple locations in the area. 301-656-8992. www.unitywoods.com. Founder and director John Schumacher has more than 35 years of yoga experience. Work for 1 1/2 hours, and get a 1 1/2-hour Iyengar class -- which focuses on the mastery of poses through repetition as developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. Scholarships are also available.

WILLOW STREET YOGA CENTER. 6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 100, Takoma Park; 8561 Fenton St., Second Floor, Silver Spring. 301-270-8038. www.willowstreetyoga.com. Two hours of work equals an anusara yoga (mostly 1 1/2-hour) or Pilates (one-hour) class.

Susan Breitkopf

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