I am struggling to find places to teach yoga.
I have recently moved to a new (well, almost new, that’s another story) town. Yes, I have loads of time and $$ invested in Ivy League (well) teacher training and enough certification to paper a powder room. I had a quite respectable and beloved following back in Missoula, Montana. Such, as they say, is no longer the case. I find myself standing, often alone on my mat, states away. All kinds of states away from the security of established classes in prime time slots at highly attended studios.
I don’t want to go victim on you. An understanding pat on the shoulder would be swell, but I am not here to beg pity. I am here to give a shout out to those who have seen this problem, and know that it is not mine alone. It tickles me rosy and warms the cockles of my heart chakra to see the number of donation-based studios and reduced-fee community classes that are blossoming across the merry land of Yoga.
With the recent explosion of yoga teacher training programs, and their happy, eager graduates hitting the studio-lined streets, there exists a certain musical chairs reality when it comes to finding a time and place to teach. This, is a blessing. But the trick is (as is the case in many professions), there are not always enough teaching jobs for the number of graduates (or migrant-yoga teachers).
It’s like Durga’s got a double-edged sword in one of those fearsome arms of hers. It is a challenge for teachers to find regular classes, and once their practice is built, will they come? Yoga has not been immune from the recession (which I argue is a present, not past, tense situation). Discretionary income that might once have gone for yoga classes might now go to buying a loaf of bread. If I weren’t a teacher myself and thus granted teacher rates for classes, I couldn’t afford to do what I teach. I couldn’t afford to do what I teach.
Thank goodness for generous & activist yogis, Yoga is no longer just a place Where the Elite Meet to Stretch. (And the fact that Yoga Modern is becoming a haven for the devas who are making it happen!)
Here are just a few projects that are rockin’ getting more yoga to more people:
- Guerrilla Yoga Project, in Charlottesville, Virginia was the first one that came to my attention:
The Guerrilla Yoga Project brings yoga to the masses by offering donation-basis yoga classes throughout our community. We teach in churches, community centers, dance studios, and prisons–anywhere the practice of yoga can improve health and wellbeing. We hope YOU will join our yoga revolution!
The Guerrilla Yoga Project finds friendly spots all over Charlottesville who roll out the red carpet for people to roll out their yoga mats. It was brought to my attention by my fellow editor and yoga teacher, Beth Oakes, who lives in Roanoke and is the founder of:
The Peace Yoga Project offers donation-only yoga classes throughout the Roanoke Valley, as well as free outreach classes to underserved members of the community. We believe in the power of yoga to bring positive change to individuals, communities, and the world. Classes are taught by qualified teachers who are trained in yoga anatomy, physiology, and philosophy, as well as in the art of teaching. We welcome all students, regardless of age, race, religion, physical condition, or yoga experience.
I’m loving this model, yoga for the people, and by people, yoga that people can afford, and that gives teachers more venue options. Sounds like win-win, a balance, a power resource rather than a power-over.
- Rusty Well’s Urban Flow Yoga and teacher training in San Francisco. The view of the city from the studio is worth the price of donation only! (As is Rusty’s through-and-through Bhakti spirit flow.)
- Yoga to the People, with classes and teacher training in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Berkeley.
“There will be no correct clothes
There will be no proper payment
There will be no right answers
No glorified teachers
No ego, no script, no pedestals
No ‘you’re not good enough or not rich enough’
This yoga is for everyone
This sweating and breathing and becoming
This knowing glowing feeling
It is for the big small weak strong
Able and crazy
Brothers sisters grandmothers
The mighty and meek
Bones that creak
Those who seek
This power is for everyone
Yoga to the People
All Bodies Rise”
“Right on!” Or in yogaspeak, Jai!
Does it bother you that many of us are in a position of teaching classes we can’t afford to attend ourselves? Give us a shout about other organizations you know that are stirring things up to make yoga affordable and accessible!