Yoga Practice

What’s the value of yoga to you?

Neal Pollack’s Yoga Journal article titled “Priced Out of Yoga?” sparked quite a bit of conversation on YogaDork last week about how expensive the practice can be. The comments ranged from blaming it on the studios for ripping students off to blaming it on the simple economics of supply/demand to blaming it on the student for not doing a free home practice. For me, it got me thinking about what I’m willing to pay for.

I am inherently a frugal person. I don’t like to part with my money if there’s a free or cheaper option of near-equivalent quality. The instances in my life where I’m willing to spend a pretty penny are related to what I value most. I find that the older I get, I’ll pay more for my time, my health and life experiences (food + travel!).

If only I had the spare money to send myself to Indonesia for a yoga retreat…
Photo source:

So let’s get the argument about the gear and the clothes out of the way. You can go all out and buy the most expensive tanks and stretchy pants and mats and bags and, and, and… That’s all for your personal comfort. Clearly, you can do yoga in nothing more than underwear, and your practice won’t suffer. So I’m not sure (as some have argued) that the people who have a rotating workout wardrobe only full of $100 yoga pants are the ones complaining about yoga being expensive.

Drop-in rates for a yoga class are upwards of $20, and as a consumer, I think we all have to make a decision. What’s the value of yoga to you?

If it’s worth it to you
– to have the group dynamic…
– to get away from your world’s distractions…
– to be led through a practice by the guiding voice of a teacher…
– to experience the ambience of a well-designed studio space…
– to be under the watchful eye of a regular teacher…
– to have a set time and place in your schedule to get on your mat…

Those are all perfectly good reasons to pay for yoga that you can’t easily replicate in your home for free. At the same time, you can also choose where and how much money to spend. Buying a class pass at one studio will drop the per-class rate down to the $10-13 range. Taking advantage of free events, promotions and Groupon-like deals can also get you more bang for your buck. Some studios will even let you share your class pass, so you and a friend can link accounts and share the cost of 20 classes at the discounted price. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

With Manju Jois, 2009. This workshop wouldn’t have been easily accessible to me if it weren’t for the work of a yoga studio to organize and promote it.

And hey, only going to a studio once a week instead of twice already cuts your cost in half. Yes, that means you’ll have to develop a home practice if you want to keep up a more frequent practice, but there are always ways to continue yoga-ing while working within your budget.

The beauty of yoga is that once you learn about the benefits and how to practice it safely and effectively, you CAN do it on your own without additional cost. It pays for itself over and over again.

Yoga studios and teachers definitely DO have a value, so I don’t want to downplay that. I couldn’t have met and studied under Manju Jois, David Swenson and Kino MacGregor if studios didn’t host these workshops. I could’ve easily hurt myself if following the YogaX dvd of P90X was my only source of information. A hands-on teacher is invaluable for learning to do postures correctly from the start and making sure you will be able to practice yoga safely for many years to come.

Overall, yes, yoga CAN be expensive… if you let it. If you don’t agree with a studio’s pricing, then switch studios or ask about other discounts. They’re running a business, and we’re buying a “product” from them. It really comes down to spending money where you value it the most.

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  1. Heidi says

    In the past, I have tried the at home practice, and I feel like my concentration wanes and serenity is lacking. I am just about ready to cancel my unlimited membership that has cost me $108/month for the past year and a half. I absolutely love going, but with a dog now, I will be rushing home from work to spend time with him instead of going straight back out for yoga. I think I need to do some calculations on the class packages.

    Thanks for bringing up such a pressing topic because I always struggle with the cost of my classes. They are so beneficial to me, but the extra money would be nice too.

    • Terri says

      Ouch. $108 a month is a lot to pay when you can’t make it to the studio enough times a month for it to be cost effective anymore. definitely look into the class passes if your attendance is dropping.

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