Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Cost of Yoga

Yoga can be expensive. Lululemon pants run about $85. Eco-friendly mats cost about $35 (I won't even tell you what I paid for mine it was so outrageous, but then for a teacher it was an investment). The average studio charges between $15-$20 per class. Then there are the accessories; mat bags, props, waterbottles, videos etc. All of this expense seems a bit counter-intuitive to the minimalist yogic philosophy of non-attachment.

So why does it seem the cost of yoga keeps going up?

The answer is yoga is popular and therefore profitable. However, there's a new wave afoot in the yoga world. A recent article in the New York Times (4/26) profiled low-cost yoga studios starting to crop up New York and San Francisco, the places where all yoga trends start.

Except in this case, I'm one step ahead of New York and San Francisco. Yes, Everett, Washington beat them to the punch. Sorry, but I have to gloat just a little. I've been trying to hold down the prices at my studio since I opened it in 2006 with only small, gradual price increases to keep up with the cost of living.

Having my studio as part of my house keeps my overhead down and therefore I don't have to charge a lot. I suppose I could but I don't want my students to stress out about the cost of relaxation and good health. I also want everyone to be able to have the experience of yoga in a studio, not just those who can afford it.

Sure, I've thought about moving my studio into a bigger space and offering more classes, but honestly I don't want the stress. Bigger is not necessarily better. In that situation I would have to charge more to make rent and pay other instructors. Besides, I also don't want to go back to teaching large group classes where I only know the students who sit in the front row and not the ones hiding in the back.

I also don't want to look at my students and see dollar signs. This is probably one of the most conflicting issues for a yoga teacher; how to earn a living from yoga without making money the central goal. I've always tried to charge what I need to put food on the table so to speak. Often what seems like an awesome hourly wage, when broken down into the actual hours I can both physically and logistically teach, becomes much less impressive.

I know I'll never get rich teaching yoga, (unless of course some famous person wants to hire me as their personal yoga teacher) and I'm perfectly fine with that. I didn't become a yoga teacher to profit off of yoga's popularity. I became a teacher because I love sharing yoga with others. I'm content in where I'm at as a teacher.

There's freedom in contentment.

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