Pay What You Can Yoga

Donation based yoga classes are on the rise in this economic downturn. As more and more people are becoming frugal about spending, yoga studios and classes are responding to this need by increasing the number of donation based classes in their schedules. Often called Karma Yoga class or community yoga, these are usually all-level classes that encourage students to participate and pay whatever they can. Some studios are even adopting this philosophy as a business model and applying it to all classes.

The hope is that those who can pay more will offset those who pay less. It is a beautiful theory, and in cooperative practice is very much in alignment with the basic principles of yoga. “Karma” yoga as taught in the ancient text, the Bhagavad Gita, is the yoga of action without regard its fruits. Rarely has this profound teaching been as applicable to the practice of yoga asana as it is today. In a stressed out society where Hatha yoga can be considered outreach, making it affordable and accessible can be considered an act of selfless service.

And the response is impressive. These donation based classes are bringing seasoned yogis to the studio when ordinarily they might have stayed at home, and is drawing newcomers as well. And, many are giving more money for the privilege instead of less. Teachers of these “pay what you can” classes are also feeling fulfilled instead of slighted. Often teaching a “Karma” yoga class is more in line with what inspired people to become teachers in the first place. “I definitely didn’t become a teacher for the money,” says Kim Lomonaco of Glowing Bodies Studio in Knoxville, TN. “I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to share the practice of yoga, which is so inspiring to me, with others.”

Most yoga teachers will probably tell you that they would teach for free if they could, but the bottom line for a yoga teacher is not much different than the bottom line for anyone else with bills to be paid and lives to maintain. The responsibilities of our humanness are universal. So offering donation based classes is a great way to bring this much needed practice to those who might not be able to afford it otherwise and hopefully recoup the losses in the process. As many witness first hand the effects that yoga has on their lives, they are more inclined to assist others in the process by offering more, yet another example of outreach.

Have you participated in a donation based yoga class in your area?

Comments 2

  1. I have never been to a “pay what you can” class; however, the only thing standing in the way from me bringing my daily practice into a studio from my home is the money issue. I would gladly go to as many pay as you go classes in my area if they were available. And i’m sure many others would follow!

  2. Thank you for this great article. Most yoga classes are financially inaccessible to the people that need them the most, particularly in urban areas where high cost of living leaves both teachers and students strapped for cash. I love the idea of abundance that a “pay what you can” class promotes. As the Yoga Sutras describe, If we can let go of our death grip on money, perhaps we can allow it to flow in and out of our lives more freely. And in that spirit, share the gift of yoga with more and more people. Namaste!

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