Sunday, January 10, 2010

Exchanging my sweat for Yoga and clandestine Eco-fy

As many of you are aware, I took a hiatus from studio Yoga classes for several months. Mostly due to cost- it is just SO expensive for yoga classes and with my contract ending last month, an eco-wedding to plan for and possible months of unemployment to prepare for, 16-18$ a class was not a "necessity". I was also becoming more disillusioned from the entire "yoga as a business" vs Yoga as spirituality. No other forms of spirituality cost hundreds of dollars a month...

In any case, several readers suggested I try energy exchanges... and so I did. 

Initially I tried to problem solve what expertise I could barter with... I can sing... ummm... lol. My favourite (and still unsuccessful) was a workshop for teachers wanting bring yoga to children and adults with speech and language disorders. How to use Augmentative Communication devices, low tech such as pictures, signs or visual schedules. Things to consider for children with special needs such as how to transition, what if they have receptive language disorders or are hearing impaired. It would involve a full powerpoint workshop and hands-on practice and case studies. Seriously, I am so excited about this idea.

No one else seems to be... sigh. In any case, perhaps something to consider for the future.

What I did receive a response for, though, was cleaning skills. Yep, I can clean like the best of them. My first job was as a housekeeper for rich Americans at their family-owned mansion in my tiny fishing village. There is something essentially humbling in being told to "speak when spoken to" and to clean someone else's toilet and bathtub. Every teenager should have this experience. My favourite memory- a woman who had a meltdown because she found a "white substance" on her sink... it was comet.

Although I have a master's degree and have been working as a professional for three years, I am not above mopping floors for free yoga. Today was my first energy exchange experience!

I *hoped* fervently as I mentally prepared for the experience that the owner of the studio used eco-friendly cleaning supplies... perhaps I should bring some vinegar? I resisted and my heart sank when I saw the swiffer (dry and wet mops), rolls of white white papertowel and clorox and method cleaning supplies. 

Slow but steady, Lisa. The owner is a fantastic teacher (one of my favs in the city who was a BC massage therapist pre-yoga instructor) and she was very accommodating to my questions and "ideas".

Unfortunately I had to reveal that I had no idea how to work a swiffer... as we only ever had a broom. The owner's method- making a pile and somehow mopping the rocks and salt (from the street) up. Since there was no broom or dust pan it took forever to wet the paper towel and pick up the dirt piles pre-mopping. I also mopped the studio while she was heating it up for the next class... it was 30 degrees celcius and I will definitely be wearing yoga gear next week.

Each paper towel felt unnatural and dirty as I cleaned the sinks and desk. Thankfully, after a timid suggestion, I will be able to bring my broom-dust pan, a bucket and a rag next Sunday! I'm also going to create a vinegar and water concoction that hopefully won't leave a residue on the studio floors (essential oil scent suggestions? I was thinking clary sage to clarify the energy of the studio... just a few drops... or perhaps tea tree for anti-bacterial properties).

There is nothing like manual labour to imbue a sense of satisfaction in work. When you are finished you have something to SHOW for your hard work. I was always a sucker for that kinda job- loved being a bartender for that reason as well.

I also tried to find Yoga as I worked today. Despite the fact that it took 2 hours to clean the entire studio (hopefully next Sunday will go more quickly), I tried to feel my breath, to find Joy and Stillness while I worked. It was beautiful to feel connected to a space where so many Yogi/nis sweat, breathe and practice. 

And darn if I won't gradually eco-fy that studio.

I am one sneaky EcoYogini ;)

Now I just need to figure out what class I'll take for free this week! WOOT.


article and photo copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Great job creating an opportunity for change. We used to have someone clean our studio in exchange for classes. It was great...she did an awesome job and we miss her greatly now that she no longer is our "cleaning lady."

    The studio where I teach is a multi-purpose studio owned by our local hospital and what a challenge that has been when discussing cleaning products! Good luck with your makeover of the cleaning closet. Along with my dream of having my own yoga only studio is to use the simplest of natural goodness to keep it clean. Someday...

  2. Way to go Lisa! I too love manual labour. It really gets the juices of appreciation flowing! :)

    Sounds like the energy exchange will be a fruitful endeavour! I love your workshop idea. It sounds like the type of workshop that one or 2 people will take and talk about...then fill up quickly! Don't give up on the idea! :)

  3. As a yoga teacher I do feel I have to stand up for the whole paying for yoga classes :)

    Yoga teaching is a profession. In the UK most yoga teachers have worked and studied hard for their qualification for 2 or 3 years and continue to work hard teaching (usually during rather anti-social hours, giving up weekends and evenings) and planning lessons that inspire clients. And while I'm a HUGE advocate of home practice checking in with a teacher is also hugely important.

    In an ideal world I would love to be able to charge on a "pay what you can afford" basis. But yoga teachers have rent to pay, bills to pay, studio costs to pay.... You know how it is.

    I can of course only speak from a UK point of view and I do know there are studios in London that charge waaaaayyyyy too much just because Madonna goes there once in a blue moon. Personally I charge a flat rate of £11 for drop in classes and this goes down the more classes you buy (eg 10 classes costs £90).

    Having said all that there have been occassions when I have known how much benefit people are getting from classes and they have to stop because of cost (new mums are one of these). That's when I too do the old energy exchange. They have done marketing and website updating for me and I had one student who took all my website photos which was marvellous.

    Basically we try our best, but apart from the very few, we're cash strapped also!!!

  4. lol, thanks!

    Rachel- oh you are right, and I completely agree with you. It's not really that i believe yoga teachers make too much money or that they don't deserve to be paid for classes, it's just that it starts to feel weird when you start talking about spirituality... that's all. :)

    (yes- it sounds like teacher training in the UK is more intense, i had heard that somewhere else instead- very cool!)

  5. Yeah the sprituality thing is a bit of a bugbear... In the UK we tend not to talk about it in normal paid classes and run free drop in classes for philosophy etc. It's a very grey area to be honest.

  6. How awesome that you are willing to do trades for classes. That is really cool! And I am on a kick to get people to green-ify their cleaning products, so I'm thrilled to hear that you have "sneaked your way" into the system. You'll be turning them on to vinegar and essential oils before they know what hit them! Wahoo!

  7. maybe you can barter for your knowledge of eco-cleaning products! eco-consulting!

  8. At Moksha Yoga Halifax you clean with eco friendly supplies and I believe for about 4 hours work a week you get UNLIMITED classes (worth $140 a month!)
    Not bad my friend,not bad!

  9. Have been really enjoying reading your posts and was just contemplating your paper towel usage journey while I was cleaning my bathroom today (I only use them for my bathroom cleaning)

    I suggest Lemongrass Essential Oil - it has a very appealing fresh scent, is highly anti-bacterial, and energetically is spiritually uplifting and clarifying.

    I blog about yoga, essential oils, and more at my "Holistic Maven" blog

  10. My hubby is bartering his computer and marketing skills for yoga classes. He went to class all by myself the other day. Shocking! I added up how much I've spent on yoga classes and workshops in the last 6 months--I didn't like my results. So I've self-imposed a ban on spending money on yoga--I prefer a solitary practice anyway, and since I no longer want to take teacher training, I don't feel the need to shell out the bucks as an "investment." I feel so free! Altough I really did like my teacher.

  11. Eucalyptus and Tee-tree are natural disinfectants. My favourite combo is warm water with a bit of vingear, one of the above, and then an essential oil to add a nice scent.

    Lavendar and Jasmine are my favourites because they are a bit stronger and can help to cover up that 'disinfectant' smell (eucalyptus oil stinks!!!!) Lemon, orange and cranberry are also lovely!

    You can also mix a nice scented oil with some water and a bit of rubbing alcohol (to dissolve the oil) and put it in a spray bottle - then when you are done cleaning just spray around the studio and the students will come in to a nice fresh smell. You can also spray this mix on your own mat after every practice for a nice clean smell every time you use it. :)

  12. I love this idea! I like to think of myself as fairly full of random talents, and I'm definitely a penny pincher, so maybe I should think about this kind of thing too.

    Did you bartend in Halifax? If so, I'm sure I bought a drink off you at some point in my university career :)

  13. Such a great idea! I'm in a position where I definitely can't afford as much yoga as I'd like. I may have to run that by my studio!


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