A yogini friend of mine told me yesterday that a new yoga studio just opened in town that offers aerial yoga. Groovy, something I’ve always wanted to try!
I start anticipating that wonderful weightless feeling I’ve read about on Elephant Journal and wrote about on our Yoga News page. “Maybe I’ll get into acrobatics and become the star of the Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas one day!”, I imagined. I visited the studio’s website to check out schedules and prices. One drop-in class for $23? After ten classes at $23 (totalling $230), I’d be saving money by opting to buy my own yoga swing ($222) and installing it in my living room!
When I see prices like this (not uncommon), I refuse. I can’t bring myself to spend over $10 on a yoga class -- no matter how “special” it may be. When I think about the jacked-up prices of Bikram yoga ($20 per class) and how much class price has deterred me from attending a class I that really wanted to go to, I get put off. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (interpreted by Shyam Ranganathan), he calls out the negative global impact of modern/Western consumerist culture in what he describes as “fashion yoga”: expensive classes and clothing. Fashion yoga breaks many yamas, or social dogmas. Especially aparigraha, or refraining from greed. Unfortunately, Patanjali never discusses with us how to assign a monetary value to yoga classes or yoga clothing, so we must interpret.
Here are five tips that will save you some cash each time you practice. A few dollars saved each week can add up quickly.
Practice at home. Invest in a yoga book, yoga deck, or yoga DVD; then, slide that coffee table over and hit your mat in the comfort of your own living room. One DVD costs about the same as one yoga class.
Community Classes. Where would I be without donation-based classes? Most non-profit yoga studios only offer “pay what you can” yoga classes. Suggested donation is typically $5 to $10. Often times, you will get more out of a $5 class versus a more expensive class because you feel better about spending less as well as contributing to that charity’s mission (e.g. taking classes into juvenile halls, jails, and making yoga accessible to everyone by offering low-cost classes). Sometimes, even for-profit studios offer one or two donation-based classes a week to help new teachers build a following. Check your area for a non-profit yoga studio -- most medium to large cities have one.
Browse Studio Websites for Specials & Sign Up for Newsletters. A lot of yoga studios have a “first time free” policy or a reduced rate policy for brand new students. I would also recommend signing up for all email newsletters from all of the studios in your area which can alert you to specials. For example, I got an email yesterday from my local Bikram studio offering a “Spring 60 Day Challenge” promo: 60 classes for $222. Yes, it sounds like a lot but comes out to only $3.70 per class. Yoga Accessories’ email newsletters often feature weekly promotions and discounts -- like 10% off your very first purchase!
Be A Karmi or Trade Skills: Want to get in for free? Ask your favorite local yoga studio manager if they offer free or cheap classes in exchange for your help signing in guests or other tasks like cleaning the studio and washing the equipment. Many studios would rather trade classes instead of hiring someone to do the dirty work. PLUS, you get the chance to meet other yogis in your community! Are you are an artist, painter, interior designer, or have any other kinds of special skills that might be helpful to a yoga studio owner? You can propose trading a mural for months of free classes. The worst thing that can happen? The owner will say no. What do you have to lose?
Invest in Quality Equipment. I know that ?” mat with a pink-on-pink zebra stripe pattern on sale at a big box store for $10 looks tempting, but think like the pros. Most yoga teachers and advanced students carry around professional-grade performance yoga mats — like the Dragonfly Natural Rubber Performance Mat, Manduka Mat Pro, or Jade Harmony Professional. Yoga Accessories offers these mats as well as generic alternatives that do just as great a job! Yes, you will be spending more money initially, but several of these mats are backed with Limited Lifetime Warranties and customer reviews claim they last a full decade of heavy usage. You WILL be saving money in the long run and you will enjoy the grippier stickier benefits that a professional mat has to offer. Remember your reusable water bottle so you don’t have to throw down an extra dollar for every class you attend.
Dirt cheap yoga is the only kind of yoga for me. What do you do to save your hard-earned pay while maintaining a seriously strict yoga schedule?