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Paying For Your Yoga

You're seeing it a lot right now - #supportsmallbusiness.

The sudden onset of COVID19 and its devastating economic effects are quickly changing the landscape of our local economies.

Small business owners, employees, and independent contractors whose sets of skills involve person-to-person interaction - like yoga instructors, massage therapists, and healers - are faced with a sudden conundrum: what is their value if they cannot share their services? How do they continue to make a living by completely rebuilding their contribution and how they share it?


Simultaneously, we see some people stepping up to do acts of good works: people who are qualified to teach, but survive mainly from another primary source of income. People who are still receiving their salary, maybe, and genuinely want to help others by offering their yoga (or other) services for free. They don't need to get paid, so they don't ask to. Even Seane Corne (my fave) stepped into this type of selfless service.


Unfortunately, there are many small business for whom competing with free offerings will mean they won't be reopening their doors when all of this is over. "Likes" and "shares" on Instagram don't pay back the massive loans it takes to run a start-up. And the landlords aren't going to take good deeds in place of rent.


The yoga industry is notorious for this type of undervaluing their professionals in the name of Karma and the spiritual pillars of Hinduism and Buddhism. Helping others, selfless service, and all that. But this expose in the New York Time's and the subsequent Yoga is Dead podcast on "karma capitalism" laid out the dangers of this mindset. Fact is, we live in a capitalist society where the cost of living ain't cheap. And yoga teachers need to get paid.


In my yoga teacher trainings we often discuss the necessity of being paid to teach. There's this idea that because instructors genuinely love yoga and love helping people, they should be happy doing it for free. But I've never really been able to understand why loving your job should mean you deserve to stress each month about paying rent. Everyone deserves to practice yoga - every person's human right is to move their bodies how they choose. But practicing with a highly qualified and experienced guide? That's different. Most yoga teacher trainings cost upwards of $3,000. I'm not sure how we can continue to expect yoga teacher trainees to invest in themselves or their careers like that without guaranteeing a return on that investment (unless we're saying teaching yoga shouldn't be a paid career?). As some people say, when you pay $20 for someone's one-hour service, you aren't paying for an hour of their time - you're paying for the hundreds of hours and dollars they've put in leading up to that.


Most instructors are independent contractors. This means when they don't teach, they aren't eligible to apply for unemployment. It also means that when they want to maintain that income by offering virtual yoga at a price, they have to complete against a million (new) free offerings. Everyone attracts their own following, sure. But there's no way to say this type of watering down doesn't affect the industry as a whole.


It warms my heart that the people most likely to line up to support us with their dollars aren't the ones swimming in it, they're other independent contractors/musicians/healers/yogis/service industry workers - who know that if individual support isn't there, these awesome offerings won't exist much longer. We appreciate every one so much.


Same goes for small businesses. Blood, sweat, and tears keep those babies running. Trust me, they're nowhere near swimming in the dough. The government might bail out big banks and Jeff Bezos (who pay $0 in taxes), but for small businesses to survive - we're going to need our supporters to bail us. If you want your favorite teachers to be able to keep doing what they're doing, and to pay their rent, and feed their families, please support your local yogis and your favorite studios. (and all your other favorite mom and pop shops). A tiny bit goes a long way. We are the communities we need in this time.


We're happy to make yoga accessible by offering a sliding scale, and more $5 class options coming at you next week. Please never hesitate to reach out to us for your yoga needs.


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