Yoga in a cathedral, fire rituals, "monkey conditioning": Find serenity at these 7 meditation-ready spots around the Bay
4770 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville. www.athleticplayground.com
IMPERIAL DAY SPA RED CLAY ROOM
This small, cozy day spa is on the edge of Western Addition, and is a nice, lower-profile alternative to some of the more popular spots in town. It's got a hot tub, a cold pool, and the requisite dry and wet saunas, but the real gem here is the red clay room. According to the spa, red clay removes toxins, boosts your metabolism, and gives you more energy. Lying naked in the hot (but not too hot) room on straw mats with your head on a beaded pillow also just feels really good.
1875 Geary, SF. www.imperialdayspa.com
URBAN FLOW YOGA
Any yoga class taught by a respectable teacher will take you on a journey of the spirit. But Rusty Wells' two-hour weekend morning classes here are one of the best antidotes for the winter doldrums. They are hot and sweaty (you'll need to be fairly fit to fit in), and have often been called "yoga church". Rusty sings, dances, beats a drum (or just the floor), and preaches the best of things: love, courage, and connection with your juicy self.
1543 Mission, SF. www.urbanflowsf.com
SPIRIT ROCK MEDITATION CENTER
Zip it. No, really, that's what you do at Spirit Rock. You stop talking. Sometimes for an afternoon, sometimes for a day, sometimes for 10 days. This beautiful, hilly retreat center in Woodacre is a great place to do a silent meditation retreat, one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself. We spend so much time thinking about what someone is saying, what to say next, and what we should say, shouldn't say, or shouldn't have said. Take all of that socializing off your plate for a few hours or days, and you're left with a contemplation of some serious depth. I couldn't recommend it more.
5000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Marin. www.spiritrock.org
Check out Karen Macklin's yoga column On the Om Front on the Guardian's Pixel Vision blog