As yoga becomes big business, the average class is in danger
out the average yogi. You can choose not to participate in the latest
designer yoga fashions, and a $15 mat works just fine, as do studio loaners.
Still, most of us are at the mercy of the yoga studio’s pricing scheme when it
comes to taking classes. The dilemma doesn’t fall only to students of yoga
though; developing an economically sustainable practice is a challenge that
affects students and teachers alike.
The irony of the increasing cost of yoga classes is that
many of the people who would benefit the most from yoga may find that starting
or continuing classes is not financially sustainable for them. Even at the
least expensive studio, working a weekly class into your budget can be a
difficult feat, especially if you are trying to make ends meet on minimum wage.
In contrast to the $15-20 typically charged for studio classes,
are the free and donation based classes that are gaining popularity. There are
many variations on this theme, ranging from the full price studio that offers a
few less expensive classes a week to studios that run completely on donations
and those that use sliding scales. Many yoga teachers are also starting to
incorporate a karma yoga class into their teaching rotation, donating their
time for the health of the community with no expectation of payment.
Historically, the philosophical teachings of yoga were free.
Of course, historically yoga wasn’t taught in a capitalist cultures either.
Modern yoga teachers need to eat too, and they often don’t make much when first
starting to teach. Letting go of a guaranteed income to take a chance being a
full-time yoga teacher is often a leap of faith that can be as stressful as
trying to work a regular class into your budget.
If you are struggling to afford studio classes there
are many options, including gym classes, yoga DVDs, bartering for private
lessons, and of course, practicing on your own. A mix of home practice and
studio classes can help ensure a frequent practice schedule without the big
price tag, and also keep things fresh. As a teacher, if you are drawn towards
offering your services for free but can’t afford to lose the income, consider
teaching in a location where you have the ability to accept trades. Ultimately,
yoga is about you and your mat and what happens when you turn your attention
inward. Exploring this connection doesn’t have to cost a thing.
Do you find the cost of yoga to be prohibitively expensive?
What ways have you found to balance the cost or afford a regular practice?