Yoga Dollars

Posted by Alice in Wanderlust on 4/28/10 in Uncategorized

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The hottest black yoga pants a lady can buy: $100 and up.  A three-day weekend with your favorite famous yoga teacher at a retreat center: more than $700.  A whole week in paradise doing asana and pranayama with the pros: $3000 and up.  A few days at a big regional yoga conference: $600 or more.  Oh and a drop-in at most city studios: $18 and up.  The cost of deep breaths, a pause from the chaos of life and a flow only your favorite teacher can offer up: priceless.  Or is it?

Last weekend, the NYTimes published an article that has stirred a ton of buzz in the yoga community.  I think I've been forwarded it at least once a day since it went live (a lot of my friends know I have a big personal interest in the cost of yoga).  The writer opens with a pretty hefty line, “Zen is expensive.”  She had me at Zen. Or was it expensive?  Either way, I've read this one over and over and must admit that as I've been Wanderlusting through studios across the States, the cost of yoga is on my mind more than usual.

In DC, I was blessed to teach yoga.  This meant, wherever I taught I practiced for free.  Now that I'm paying for yoga again, it has become a pretty significant slice of my budget.  The NYTimes article circulating in the yoga community focuses it's praise on Yoga to the People, a studio in NYC and Cali that brings donation-based yoga to the masses.  Pay what you can, show up as you are, and expect a surprise teacher, no frills and no OMs. 

As a teacher, my goal has always been to bring yoga to people who can't afford city studio rates.  I've taught in prisons and domestic violence shelters.  Even churches.  In DC I brought classes to people's living rooms in exchange for big potluck dinners.  Two things have been proven by making some of my yoga classes pay-what-you-can: people will pay and as a teacher, you don't need to strip down the practice to guarantee regulars. 

I've been to Yoga to the People and love their mission and their work making yoga more accessible by asking students to pay what they want for class.  At the same time, I question the idea of accessible and welcoming yoga equaling no OMs, no spirituality, and a power flow that can only reach a specific spectrum of bodies.  Isn't there a way we can keep the spiritual, philosophical aspects of our yoga practice and still charge an affordable rate that keeps teachers alive and well? 

So, my kula, as I explore new studios at a whole spectrum of price ranges and styles, and as I think about how I want to set up my teaching life here in a new hometown, I'm wondering what you think about all this?  Is it true that yoga is getting too expensive or do you think it makes sense as teaching yoga becomes a more valid career and owning a studio, a more valid business?

Until next time,

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