"I am getting my butt back into a yoga class."
That was my plan end of December... I could feel the need to learn something new, and since I don't have it in my budget to attend weekly in studio classes, my hope was to find a class that was meaningful. That would add to my yoga skillz.
And then I had a quick peek at drop in class prices... "Holy crap! They've gone up"... In Halifax a drop in class is 20$ at most studios.
I think it's time we had an honest discussion about the cost of yoga.
Typically there are two camps in this (long suffering) debate: a) those who rail against the hypocrisy of costly classes that pander to an increasingly exclusive class of yogis and b) those who defensively justify the rising costs of running a studio and the offensive suggestion that yoga teachers give away their time and skill set.
Neither camps are very productive, both have points and finally, neither are good at examining the issue objectively.
The reality remains, regardless of your 'camp' : yoga is getting prohibitively expensive. By raising class prices, no matter the legitimate justifications, has consequences... Mainly that those who are able to access yoga in reputable studios by qualified teachers are those who can afford to drop over 100$ a month on yoga.
Oh, often studios wax poetic about the alternatives and flexibility of pricing... And perhaps we need to look a bit more closely at the options.
1. Karma classes: often, if a studio offers karma classes, they are at a limited time (typically not convenient for people's work and life schedules) and often times by teacher trainees. It's not very conducive to growing a yoga practice if you have limited choice in time and quality for your learning. Let's be honest, the message is clear: if you can't afford a regular class, you can't complain with the time, quality or even style of yoga we give you.
I need something more than a random yoga class at this stage in my practice, and karma classes definitely leave quite a lot to be desired for my practice.
Lululemon offers community classes- but who wants to practice in a giant commercial on a Sunday morning?
2. Energy exchange: I've done this. For about six months, while working a full time, emotionally exhausting job, I spent one full afternoon cleaning a yoga studio in exchange, hour-hour for yoga classes. I eventually had to quit, since after four hours in that studio I no longer had the energy or desire to be there any other time during the week. I wanted yoga, not another physically demanding job.
Honestly, I think energy exchange yoga to be a bit of a cop-out. Firstly, the assumption that I had time in my busy, working full time schedule, to then work more for two classes of yoga a week was laughable. Do we really believe that people who can't afford yoga have spare time to take on another part-time job? Further, the 'energy exchange' isn't really a bartering system- as it typically only applies to cleaning or reception. I put together a proposal for exchanging a teacher training workshop on providing yoga classes for people with communication difficulties (children with special needs, adults with hearing loss) and was met with a big nothing.
If we were honest, those who do energy exchange are usually young, without children and often university students...
I will admit there are a few yoga classes in the city, generally ashtanga, that are a 10$ drop in fee. I've attended a few and they're usually in community centres or at the Y. They're fabulous, and most likely work because the teachers aren't offering the classes out of hugely swanky studios that have to pay expensive rent. However, if I want another style of yoga, it's not that straightforward to find and I have limited choice on teacher and level of class.
And maybe that is the solution... perhaps it's time to recognize that, although the aesthetics of our western studio are lovely, it's not conducive to offering affordable yoga.
Or, perhaps there is another solution that keeps the integrity of the yoga offered while paying a fair wage to the teachers. What are your thoughts or ideas?