Friday, April 1, 2011

Is Yoga Really Accessible to Everyone in HRM?

Yoga classes are expensive. Let's just say it. (Unless of course you live near Babs, who charges 5$ a class... for ALL classes- so amazing!).

I believe that home practice is essential, I learn a lot about my practice when I'm flowing through postures without direction, without someone else telling me what to do next. At the same time, home practice can create stagnation and that's where studio practice is also so valuable.

I want to know, who can afford regular classes? In the city, an average class goes for 16-18$ per class. In a month at only one class a week that's around 72$, in a year that's over 800$. Even class passes of 10 classes for 100$ the yogi(ni) has to fork over 100$ upfront... which I don't know about you, but I really don't have that kind of cash.

The solution to finding affordable yoga classes has always been community or karma classes. Sadly, in Halifax, these classes aren't typically high quality. They're usually cramped with limited teacher-student feedback, some studios have their students "practice" teaching these classes and the student rarely gets yoga style choice.

Still, if you're looking for affordable yoga in Halifax, here's a current breakdown of the community/karma class scene:

Monday: nothing
Tuesday: nothing
Lululemon typically has free classes at 6pm

Thursday: nothing

Moksha Halifax Karma- 9pm,
Moksha Dartmouth Karma- 8:30pm

(Yoga in the Park-Free once warmer weather arrives!)
108 Yoga by donation- 9:40am
Halifax Yoga to the People (taught by teacher trainees)- 1:00pm
The Shala Karma-1pm

Lululemon typically has free classes-10:30am
Halifax Yoga Karma+meditation-7pm
The Shala Karma-7pm
Sunrise- last Sunday of every month
Halifax Moksha Karma- 6pm
Breathing Space Tantallon Karma- 3pm (once month)

As you can quickly gather, studios are packing their less profitable classes all on less popular days of the week- Saturday and Sunday.

It's not that I don't think an instructor's time isn't valuable- it is. However, I can't ignore the fact that for many yogi(ni)s (or potential yoginis) in HRM,  quality yoga classes just aren't that accessible or affordable.

Ah well- thank goodness for "Yogaglo"!


  1. Eeeek! The old "is yoga too expensive" controversy has been rearing its ugly head all over the blogosphere recently it seems and one of the best responses I've read to it is Kate's here.

    Most of the arguments for and against high charges deal with American/Canadian yoga. To my knowledge the Brits don't seem to have an issue with it.

    However if they did I would justify my prices exactly as they are. Firstly, training to teach yoga costs thousands of pounds. Then when your done you spend hundreds every year on In Service Training and Insurance (insurance is expensive). Studios aren't cheap to run - we need heat, light, water, cleaners, taxes, rates, rent. Even when you rent rooms it's expensive (I run a pregnancy yoga class from a church hall which costs an absolute fortune).

    We don't just roll up and teach and go away again. Lesson planning takes a hugely disproportionate amount of time, especially if you want people to get more out of it than just a stretch.

    Basically when you take all of this into account, less than half the amount each person pays for a class goes into my pocket. And that is less than minimum wage. Then I have to pay tax on that.

    I'm not complaining, I love what I do and I chose to do it. I also love that Babs teaches $5 yoga, but I don't know how she does. In the UK at least you just cannot make a living teaching group classes which is why I have the yoga therapy and massage as well.

    Funnily enough yoga is one of the only professions I have ever heard where teachers are somehow "expected" to work for free. While we might not do it for the money, we have mortgages and bills to pay too and to charge any less would, in my mind at least, belittle and demean the profession.

    A class with me is still cheaper than a couple of drinks in a bar after work after all.

    On the flipside I do encourage students to home practice, understand that they can't afford to come every single week and spend lots of time on podcasts and home practice advice for people as well. It's all about finding the right balance.

  2. @Rachel: I completely agree with you- there is definitely NO question in my mind that the price has a reason. Like I said: It's not that I don't value the teacher's training and expertise.

    However. Yoga is expensive. It just is. Regardless if I think the price is appropriate for the true cost of the service. Doesn't change the fact that I can't afford studio classes.

    I think it's a decision that needs to be made collectively in recognizing that yoga classes isn't truly accessible to everyone. I'm fine with studios charging what they, as I see it, it's their career, their job.
    But don't claim at the same time that 'Yoga is for everyone', or pressure students to practice 'as much as possible', or that yoga should be viewed as a spiritual resource.

    I also have a bit of an issue with studios doing 'karma' classes when the true sense of giving is lost when these classes are lower in quality as well as cost.

    The reality, is when you attach such a price tag to a service, regardless that it is justified, you skew who that service is available for, what that service becomes shaped to serve. Those who have the most impact on the service and it's growth are those who can afford to attend.

    The Middle, Upper Middle class.

  3. I defray the expense quite a bit by doing an "unlimited pass" per month. If I only went once a week it would be very expensive, but I go four or five times per week. When you compare it with the drop-in price of $20 per class, I end up getting around $400 worth of yoga for $115.

  4. @Norma: that's wonderful that you can afford that- but there's no way I could afford 100$ a month for yoga.... no matter how much I save.

  5. I think that like with most things they are not accessible to the lower class, lower middle class and some of the middle class. A gym membership is just the same as yoga classes. Not that they are necessarily "too expensive" for what they offer but because the cost of living is high and for one reason or another people in those demographics (including myself) don't have extra funds to spend on exercise. Even though most people in those demographics cannot afford classes or memberships but there is still a big push for everyone (eg: CBC's Live Right Now initiative) to be healthy and exercise which is along the same vein as "yoga is for everyone".

    The YMCA is a great place for the lower income or financially stretched demographic to get some free or cheap classes (yoga included) and exercise. It is designed to support the community as a whole and especially those who cannot afford the more expensive memberships, etc. So this may be a place you want to look if you have a tight pocket book. As a yoga teacher, volunteering at community centers to give free classes to make yoga accessible to everyone would go a long way at achieving the "yoga is for everyone" ideal.

    Overall, I feel that having cheaper classes in the studios a couple of times a week does make it more accessible to people with a smaller budget but I do think that they should have the same quality as the more expensive classes. I also feel that the studios need to make some money or else they go out of business. Generosity goes a long way but like Rachel said, they have bills and mortgages just like everyone else.

    So if you are looking for something inclusive, support those studios or teachers who strive to be inclusive and put your dollars where they count. Build a relationship with the teachers/studios that are doing what you feel is right and encourage them to keep it up or even push their boundaries. Starting yoga in the park was a great initiative towards making it accessible to everyone and I applaud you for it (and am looking forward to it starting again!).

  6. whenever I finally visit Halifax, I hope i can come to yoga in the park! it just sounds so awesome.

  7. Hey there! Thanks for the shout out. $5 yoga rocks! I feel like my students really appreciate it. I often feel guilty for not offering free community classes. But, it isn't something that I can realistically balance while charging $5 for other classes. I have people pay in dimes and pennies. No joke. I'm inspired by you and will probably do a free yoga in the park class this summer if students are interested.

  8. Thanks for sharing yogaglo!! I just signed up and can't wait to use it. It in unfortunate that yoga class prices are so high, but most of the time it is because the teachers or owners are paying sky high rent. I know some yoga teachers and sudio owners and that is the main problem they face. I guess I am lucky because I find the karma or community classes I go to are actually better than regular classes.

  9. Do you know about Yogaheart? She offers classes at the Christ Church hall in Dartmouth for $8 if you drop in, less if you register for a five week session. I really enjoy her classes. I have taken my teenagers to her, and hope to get my husband into it, as well. Check out her site at

  10. @Alli- great thoughts, deifinitely not an easy question or answer. but you bring up some nice alternatives.

    @Callah: YES- you should totally come to Halifax and practice :) Halifax in the summer is FUN

    @babs: you're welcome. You are doing amazing things with your classes and I love that you write about it for other instructors to see how they could make it work :)

    @spingypsy- ouu! I hope you love it as much as we do!

    @KC: ahhh- i haven't heard of her. thank you for the link- i will definitely check it out :)

  11. I enjoy your blog and agree-yoga is EXPENSIVE.

    That being said, I politely disagree on one point-I do not find the karma classes at Moksha
    Halifax and lower quality.
    It is taught by the "regular" teachers and I have found it a high quality class.(my only note would be you do have to come a bit early to ensure a spot).

    So for those who enjoy a heated yoga class,this is no lesser quality class !

  12. @Anon: thanks for commenting :) I just don't feel that extremely crowded classes would qualify as the same level of instruction and personal 1:1 feedback as regular full priced classes that are generally less packed.

    But then- perhaps that's more of a personal taste. :)

  13. Thanks a lot for this post! It's a great starting point to connect with the Halifax Sangha. has 5.75$ classes in the summer, everyday at 6PM, weather permitting. I'm just sharing the info, I don't know them and never attended one of their classes.

    Btw, I'm not familiar with Yogaglo, but I've had a good experience online with


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