Yoga should be available to everyone that wants to heal their mind, heart and body. For some, the added expense of paying for a class at a studio might prevent them from ever getting started with their practice. The idea of a person who is physically and mentally ready to make yoga a regular part of their lives but who might not be able to do so financially makes me uncomfortable with yoga. I do not want yoga to become an elite practice for only those that can afford it. To be clear, you really don’t need anything but yourself to practice yoga, but for those that are yoga beginners or those that like having a teacher to guide them it can be important to participate in a yoga class. Luckily, there are more and more ways to practice yoga online for free, and if you keep a look out you can usually find a free class happening near you.
Giving back is an important part of my yoga. When I started practicing regularly, I did work trade at studios in exchange for free classes. I always looked for karma yoga classes around town that were donation based or very cheap. At that time in my life, it was impossible for me to pay to go to class regularly, and I have a huge amount of gratitude for the opportunities I was given to practice.
Making a living as a yoga teacher is challenging and rewarding. Juggling a schedule of public classes, teaching private clients, and maintaining your own personal practice can be tough. I am not trying to say that ever teacher needs to teach for free, I firmly believe that teachers as a whole are extremely underpaid for the important work they do! However, I recognize the need to give the same opportunities to others that were given to me, which is why I choose to teach for free in addition to my public classes and private lessons.
I believe in giving back where and when you can, and paying it forward. For me, that means showing up to the community room every Tuesday at the Bozeman Public Library to teach 30+ people of all ages and abilities how to practice. It means teaching a high school girls Lacrosse team to help them learn how to de-stress before a big game. It means offering a free workshop about the benefits of yoga for Suffer Out Loud, a local non-profit leading the effort to reduce suicide rates in Montana by challenging the stigma associated with mental illness. It means teaching yoga for the free in-store community events at the local Lululemon downtown. I’m not telling you all this for a pat on the back, I hope to inspire you to give back to your community in your own way! Someone out there needs the gift of yoga, and you can be the one to share it with them.