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donation based yoga classes

May 16, 2010

there is a trend apparently for donation based or what is called “free yoga”.  it is happening in new york city at yoga to the people and other studios are announcing they will try it out.

an article in the new york times we learn that Greg Gumucio (post-bikram golden boy done wrong by “the man”) is the multi-studio owner and brain child of this new yoga “manifesto”.  in the manifesto they state:

“There will be no correct clothes, There will be no proper payment, There will be no right answers … No ego no script no pedestals.”   they go on to say:  “In a time where yoga as a business is getting a lot of attention, the fact that it is being priced out of many people’s reach is in direct conflict with what we consider to be the spirit of yoga itself.”

hummm… the spirit of yoga itself.  yoga is “from india”, india has a caste system. is that also the spirit of yoga i wonder? the fact that yoga is priced out of peoples reach may be a concern but their teacher training is another story.  (now truthfully this is not out of line for teacher training costs… ) but for the privilege of being certified to give away your talent and hard work it does seem a little much. (you can do the teacher training to teach for yoga to the people for between $2400. – $2600.)  really?

The website goes on to say  “The question our studio seeks to answer is: Can a yoga studio maintain itself as a business while keeping the focus of its intention on providing yoga as a service first and foremost?”

well, i have the answer.  YES!  this is exactly what i do.  i love the yoga students.  their yoga, their experience at the studio, their comfort, their joy, their injuries, their pets, their families.   ALL of these  i take into my heart and my mind and my spirit as i guide them through class.  i offer the heat, the towels, the water, the electrolytes if needed.  i offer the love and the laughter and a space for the sweat and the tears. this is my service. my service has nothing to do with paying the bills and making the numbers work.  that is a separate issue and the reality of life in the world is (apparently just lately) , if you want a service from someone else, you will need to figure out a way to pay them for it.  my students gladly pay me for my service.   they appreciate what i do and who i am and have no expectation of anything else.

yoga to the people has had great idea for marketing their $10. classes. the new york times,  the webs and yoga journal all have written about it. there is another great article about this subject of donation based yoga that intrigued me.  this guy has his own manifesto, and some great takes on the concept. in NYC most people will pay $10, but most other parts of the US that are less accustomed to paying $10 for coffee most would pay less and some will pay nothing.  these donation based classes are crowded mat to mat.  of course there are only so many students a teacher can really teach yoga to in a class, regardless of how many are there.  in a crowded yoga class the teacher is pretty busy just managing the crowd;  your chances of getting any personalized help are pretty slim.  seems to sound  a lot like, “you get what you pay for”.

ALERT: THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS WILL BE SHOCKING TO SOME:   i love teaching yoga. it has been my passion, my nemesis, my blessing and my curse for a very long time now.  i love yoga! i am not going to spend all my time and my efforts to attend multiple residential REAL yoga teacher training programs,  build a yoga studio and then give the classes away. why should i.  you see, teaching yoga especially as a certified teacher and studio owner is not cheap.  sure anyone can “tell you the postures”  and call themselves the “yoga teacher”.   yoga IS accessable to everyone.  you can practice at home for FREE any time of night or day.  but, if you want a yoga studio, small sweet classes, a sweaty space, a certified  teacher you trust, who knows what she’s teaching, who wont hurt you and knows your injuries. if you want room to stretch (it is yoga after all) you are to pay for it.  someone pays for everything.

and since i expect you to pay the going rate for your class apparently to some that makes me less yogic or out of the spirit of yoga? no i don’t think so.

One Comment leave one →
  1. kim permalink
    May 16, 2010 12:24 pm

    Been to yoga to the people on 27th (or 29th??). Was surprised to find that location was NOT donation based and had clear expectations about receiving payment before my may hit the floor – just like every other yoga studio I have had the pleasure to visit over the years. In fact they would not even accept my attempt to donate to the program. They also didn’t have the coolt-shirts I saw on the website but that is not really on point. It was good, crowded “traditional hot yoga” in NYC. It was no where near your yoga class!

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