Are No Charge Yoga Classes a Good Idea?
Offering yoga classes free of charge can be very tempting to attract new students. But is it really a good idea? Is it fair to ask teachers to share their teaching skills for free? To help you decide whether it’s wise to give them, you’ll find a couple of pros and cons in this article.
Doing Something for the Community
An important aspect of yoga is ‘Seva,’ which in Sanskrit means selfless service. It refers to giving, helping, attending, or even honoring and worshiping, without expecting anything in return. Offering a yoga class for free would fall into the Seva work category, where you offer to care for others using your skills for no other reason than giving in itself. It is worthwhile to bring this humble perspective into the West, where capitalist mindsets have somewhat made us forget about the value of selfless service.
Selflessness helps build honest relationships and invites simplicity into our lives.
When you offer no charge yoga, your focus is entirely on making sure everyone is looked after, feels included and at ease, and can enjoy the benefits of the practice. Your free classes might even have a ripple effect on your community, and others might want to start sharing their skills for free, too. Selflessness helps build honest relationships and invites simplicity into our lives.
Getting the Word Out
If you’re opening your yoga studio or starting a new class, offering it for free can attract curious yogis, friends, neighbors, and family. If you’re new to an area or have recently graduated as a yoga teacher, offering no charge yoga classes can also be an opportunity to let others know who you are as a teacher, to try your classes, to let them know where and when they can practice with you.
If that is your goal, make sure you have flyers, cards, or an online platform to refer people to. Let them know what the next steps are so they can meet you again in another class.
Meeting New People
If offering yoga for free is something you want to do regularly, say every month, then why not make an event out of it? You can organize a meet-up in the park, invite your friends and family to invite theirs and everyone can bring something to eat or drink for after class. If you know someone who plays an instrument, has another skill to share, wants to introduce an activity (painting, boxing, cooking), or wants to give a talk on a specific topic, you can also invite them. This is the perfect opportunity to make new connections and have conversations with like-minded people. And who knows, it might bring new co-creation opportunities for the future.
Karma Yoga for Newly Graduated Teachers
If you’re a studio owner, how about inviting new teachers to teach once/week as an exchange service? They would gain practice through this class and access to other classes at your studio. This will also help them build community with your help, and get acquainted with teaching while feeling supported.
Do make sure you value those new teachers as much as the more experienced ones. Karma yoga should not be a way to use the less confident teachers to save up on expenses.
Your Energy Is Valuable And Needs to Be Replenished
Selflessness is very honorable and definitely brings peace and kindness into any community. However, teaching yoga takes energy—before, during, and after class. It takes hours, days, years of practice and teaching to be skilled and if teaching yoga is what you dedicate yourself to, you need to replenish your energy tanks to be able to keep doing it.
Because yoga is an ‘alternative’ kind of job shouldn’t mean you don’t deserve to be paid. When you go to the restaurant, to the supermarket, or want to fly for a holiday, those places and companies expect you to pay because their work requires time and energy. Teaching yoga requires them too. This means you should be able to replenish your energy tanks through money to feed you, give you a roof, and pay your organic, fair trade coffee. ;-)
Teaching Yoga Is A True Skill
Any skill requires investment in time, money, and energy. They’re necessary to become more knowledgeable and gain expertise over the years. If you dedicate that much to a skill, it isn’t sustainable to offer it for free on the regular. Unless you find other ways to get that skill valued (see my next point for ideas), it’s important to be realistic on that account.
To become better informed and have access to the necessary material, you also need to pay for that material, to attend workshops, take trainings, and so on. You also need to invest in yoga as a business owner or entrepreneur, which is nearly impossible if you don’t have the finances to do so. The money you get from teaching is essential to allow yourself to grow as a teacher and business owner.
Final Thoughts to Consider
If you can’t get your energy ‘back’ through teaching that free class, see if you can find another way to provide for yourself, especially if it’s a recurring class. Even if you’re a studio owner, how about offering a couple of yoga or meditation classes online for a low fee? You only have to record them once (maybe even recording them during an actual class), and have them available on your website for your students. You can invite the students who take the free class to get the online one if they’d like to support your teaching.
You could also offer donation-based classes. This allows those who wouldn’t be able to afford yoga classes to come while allowing those who can to thank you (and give you some energy back!) easily.
Before Giving No Charge Yoga Classes
Those pros and cons should hopefully give you some food for thought. Take those into account to decide whether no charge yoga classes are a good idea, and on what terms you’d like to offer them if you do.
Think about why you’re doing it. Your intention behind it should be clear to you before you start offering them.
Lastly, before you start offering free yoga classes, think about why you’re doing it. Your intention behind it should be clear to you before you start offering them. Answering this question for yourself, whether you’re a studio owner, employed or self-employed, has to be the result of your own thinking process.