Practicing Yoga in a Financial Crisis

The current financial crisis is making headlines everyday. Even in the yoga world, both practitioners and teachers are feeling its impact. So how is yoga faring in this time of financial decline? In some spaces, studios have seen a growth in classes as students look for ways of managing the mounting stress, but in other locations, trimming the budget has led to a decline in yoga students at studios and gyms having deemed the expense excessive. As students and teachers, how do we decide if yoga is worth the cost?

For so many who study the path of yoga, the clarity within the blur of the looming financial threat is found in the practice itself. In our own homes, we seek solace in our mats and in the stability of the philosophy that at its foundation. When we find the peace that our practice brings, we long to share it, to deepen it, to extend it into all aspects of our lives. When we join with others in this shared intention, we set the keystone for our individual practice. So we find our way to a yoga class, even when times are tough. That hour and a half twice a week at the studio assists us in viewing life’s circumstances objectively. In classes, we are able to step out of our day-to-day worries and fears and be completely present for at least a fraction of our day. Through our teachers, we are able to see a bigger picture, to become aware of our negative tendencies, and to move through resistance and effort more gracefully.

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Some suggestions for keeping your budget in check have been to continue doing yoga at home, but eliminate the need for classes. With this I agree to a point. A home practice is essential to deepening your understanding of your practice and your Self. It is through a disciplined home practice that we explore our long held limitations, and begin to release them. But, even a home practice can become routine without guidance and the encouragement to push beyond our conception of limits. That is where good teachers and the energy of a group infuse your practice with an understanding that can often be overlooked in the routine of our home practice. Even after 16 years of practicing yoga, I still seek the energy of a group and the inspiration of a teacher often. And though many of the classes I now attend are taught by my students, I always come away having a discovery or experience that I had not found in my own disciplined practice.

If we want the ability to attend yoga classes with gifted and qualified teachers, than it is up to us to continue to be the student, to show up for class, to patron our community studios. The fact is that when we take time and money to attend a yoga class, we walk away feeling like not only did we get our money’s worth, but we somehow come to know the worth of our Self more completely. That is what we can take home with us, and that is what can support us when we weather these challenging financial times. It is empowering to value our Selves. This one simple choice has the ability to lift us above the heaviness of our worldly burdens and frame our situations in a more universal way.

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As for the teachers and studios, it is they who have supported us on our path to understanding. In large or small ways, the insight and energy that we accept in a studio practice feeds us and paves the way for deeper discoveries. How can we, yogically, take the blessings that we have found through this community and abandon the community itself? The truth is we should not. To move through the world yogically means that we become the support to those who have supported us. Now is the time that we as students have the ability to give back. Not through material gifts, but simply by showing up. If we make this commitment, then our teachers and studio will meet us, and I daresay, exceed our expectations. The teacher/student relationship is cyclic, a continuum of giving and receiving that feeds our essence. If the financial strain of life is causing you to wonder away from your practice, slow down and remember what it is you are actually looking for in this life. Once that answer becomes clear, the choices become easier. Trust in the innate understanding that the practice of yoga provides, then seek out the experiences, people, and places that support them.

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