Why Pay-what-you-want Yoga Classes are Better Online

The landscape of yoga classes has changed lately. With many teachers and studios moving online to keep sharing valuable practices in spite of social distancing, there’s a growing demand for pay-what-you-want classes. 

Classes where the yogi chooses how much they want to pay have always been a thing — but online classes allow you to share your teaching with more people, without the cost of hiring a teaching space or paying studio rents. And as many people are having to manage on a lower income than usual, it makes sense for teachers to offer this more affordable option for some of their online work. 

Are Pay-what-you-want Yoga Classes a Good Idea? 

That’s not to say that teachers should run pay-what-you-want classes. The debate about whether doing this devalues our work and makes it harder for us to earn a living still goes on. But from my perspective, the lower overheads of online teaching combined with this time of need (because people really do need practices to support their physical and mental health right now) make these classes a practical way for yoga teachers to help. 

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to run classes like this, the first question to ask yourself is whether you can afford to. A few months ago, the answer might have been a very simple no — many yoga teachers need to fill their classes with yogis who pay a set rate in order to cover their costs. But when you’re teaching via online platforms like Zoom, it might be easier to balance the risk of letting yogis pay what they like. 

Why Making Yoga More Accessible is Especially Valuable at this Moment in Time

Although in many parts of the world are beginning to emerge from the recent period of lockdown, people are still keeping their distance. We know things aren’t going to go back to normal straight away — and we know that many people will struggle with the long-term physical and mental health effects of being isolated and having to stay at home. 

This makes yoga teachers more important than ever. Because we can offer something to help people stay well. To promote calm and relaxation, and counter the effects of stress and anxiety. And to provide a way for people to keep moving their bodies and stay fit and healthy. 

Yoga studios and public classes will be different for a while — distancing measures mean that it’ll be harder for studios to bring in enough revenue to manage overheads. So online classes are likely to stick around, and they’re doing two important things: 

  1. Making yoga classes available to those who want them; and making them more accessible to those who can’t afford, or can’t physically get to studio classes
  2. Keeping yoga businesses going during this tough time

Pay-what-you-want classes help with both. They make it easier for people to access yoga and draw more yogis into a teacher’s classes. So this feels like a good moment in time to try a donation-based model. Because ultimately, we teach yoga because we know it can help people feel better — and it’s important to help people feel better right now. 


How Can you Manage Payments for Pay What You Want Classes? 

In the physical world, these classes are often paid for in cash. But what about online? 

Lots of teachers use payment systems like PayPal to take flexible payments. It works, but it’s not perfect, and involves a lot of admin to keep track of payments and classes. 

So Momoyoga is adding a new Pay What You Want feature to help with this. When you create a class, you can select the new checkbox, which will make your offering visible to yogis as a pay-what-you-want class. 

They can book this class without any payment, and then once the class is over, Momoyoga will automatically send all participants an email with a link to pay. They can fill in their chosen amount, and then you’ll receive a notification email with the details you need about the payment. It’s simple for you as a teacher or studio, and simple for the people attending your classes too.

How Do You Organise Pay-what-you-want Yoga Classes?

If you decide to teach on thisbasis, you don’t have to teach only pay-what-you-want classes. You could structure classes in a number of ways, for example: 

  • Have a certain number of pay-what-you-like spots for each class. While most yogis pay your set fee, those who are on low income or meet your requirements to be eligible for a flexible rate spacecan get in touch and request one.

    This allows you to keep the set class price, which means it’s easier for you to predict how much you’ll earn each week, but also offer a pay-what-you-want option for people who need it. 

  • Make just one or two of your weekly classes pay-what-you-want. You keep a set fee for most of your classes, but include specific flexible rate classes on your schedule.

    This provides a lower-cost option, and could also boost your numbers in all your other classes. Because yogis you haven’t taught before are more likely to ‘try you out’, and if they love your teaching some of them are likely to join your regular price classes too. 

  • Make ALL of your classes pay-what-you-want. Some yoga teachers do this in their physical classes — but it’s rare, and for good reason. Online, however, it is a little less risky, although I still don’t recommend it unless you don’t need rely on your teaching income to pay the bills.

    This approach gives you the least certainty in terms of your weekly income. But it can pay off — particularly as those who can afford to pay more often do if they get a lot of value from your classes. And that can balance out the yogis who pay less. 

What Do You Think?

Pay-what-you-want classes are the subject of regular debate on yoga groups and forums. What do you think? Do you offer them online or not — and why? 

Either way, thank you for sharing your teaching online in recent months. Taking online classes with other teachers has been an important part of my life during lockdown, and I’m constantly impressed by how adaptable and resilient the yoga community can be. 

Your yoga business has the potential to become a powerfully positive part of your students’ lives. Momoyoga is a simpler and easier way to manage your yoga classes, bookings, payments and yogis all in one place. Try Momoyoga 30 days for free
Izzy Arcoleo
Izzy Arcoleo is a yoga teacher and writer based in London. She’s passionate about drawing together physical yoga practices with yoga philosophy and anthropological theory to create practices that are inspiring, supportive and fulfilling.

Join 4,000 other yoga teachers who get our latest content first

New articles that help you grow your yoga business. Unsubscribe anytime.

Please enter a valid email address.