Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yoga for the 100%

Maria recently posted a summary of her yearly yoga expenses, which captured my attention (way to flush me out of hiding, Maria - nicely done!).

Her post was in response to a post of Claudia's which responded to a Bloomberg article claiming that a 37-year-old woman living in New York City can expect to spend over $10,000 per year on yoga expenses if she 'goes all out.'

I believe there was also an implication that you need to 'be in the 1%' in order to practice yoga with any seriousness.

$10,000?! Seriously? *eyeroll*

So I decided to do my own yearly breakdown of yoga expenses over the course of a year. The results are itemized below.

You'll see that Shala fees are my biggest expense at the moment. During those years that I home-practised exclusively, my costs were much, much lower. I probably spent no more than $500 per year on yoga in my practice then - and this even factors in clothing, videos, a retreat and an occasional class.

In 2003, I attended YTT, $3000. In addition, I've done at least 700 hours of advanced YTT over the years, $3,500. That stuff does add up, but the average practitioner doesn't need to do YTT in order to learn yoga, so I won't count it.

Let's just focus on this year and for the sake of simplicity, let's pretend that the shala opened in January and I've been attending regularly there all year.

All prices are in Canadian dollars. Context: I live in a large Canadian city, with the highest cost of living in the country. Most costs are comparable or more expensive than NYC (with the exception of rent - geez, no wonder you people live in eensy weensy closets, sheesh!!!).

Here's Kai's Yoga Budget 2011

Yoga Instruction: Mysore style instruction.
$1,800 = 1 year of shala fees

Clothing: I keep it simple. I own two full sets of yoga practice clothes (I don't factor in the clothes I teach in). I hand-wash them each day after practice, hang them to dry. I buy good quality because these clothes get hard use.
$160 = Lu crops x2
$80 = Lu yoga bra x2
$18 = Simple black tank top x2

Mat and Rug: I've been using the same Manduka mat daily for the past four years. It's in perfect condition, but let's assume that I need a new one every four years and prorate that. I buy a new Mysore rug once a year.

$25 = Manduka over four years
$20 = Mysore rug

Grand total yoga costs for one year: $2103

The shala I practice at is open six days a week, year-round, including Moon Days and I keep a very consistent 6-day practice (read: I haven't missed a day since the shala opened). So, for a six day week, my daily cost would be $6.74 per day.

But...the plot thickens. My teacher also offers a led class on Saturdays, which I attend regularly. Factoring in that class, my daily cost goes down to $5.76.

That's around the price of a specialty coffee drink at the local Starbucks (according to this article, the cost of a Grande Carmel Macchiato recently went up to $5.03, before tax).

So it comes down to this: What would I rather do? Drink a sugar-and-caffeine loaded drink with an excess of 270 calories (more if there's a dollop of whipped cream)? Or do my practice?

Which would you pick? (no judgement here if you choose the Macchiato - I hear they're very yummy...)

To be clear, I simply don't see this as a matter of rich vs. poor or 1% vs. 99%. I'm not wealthy by any stretch (anyone who tells you that an average person can get rich as a full-time yoga teacher is trying to sell you something - and that something is very likely a Yoga Teacher Training...lol).

I'll concede, coming up with monthly shala fees is not always easy. But if I needed to, I could home practice. There are wonderful resources available - books and DVDs available from the library, free online yoga classes, free and PWYC classes, 'energy exchange' arrangements with studios...the list goes on.

For me, on my very tight budget, it's a question of priorities. 10 years from now, will I remember that frothy Stabucks Drink? Will the burrito I bought at the little cafe on the corner really matter to me?

Will my practice matter? Yes, I believe it will. And I'm willing to put my money on that.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


sereneflavor said...

Whoo hoo! You are so right about the daily breakdown. People spend 7 to 10 bucks on a snack or a cocktail and do not give it a second thought.

I want asana talk Kai! It's been too long.

Haley-O said...

I just quit Starbucks (finally! hopefully!), so your post is very timely. $10,000 is insane. This year I paid for shala fees, a tiny mat cubby fee, and my mat (Manduka). My yoga clothes are also my street clothes -- I change into my yoga pants as soon as I get home -- and I wear a t-shirt that I'll wear to work too (shhh). I paid for a few workshops. That's really it. I think if you're in the 1%, you might spend that much. But the rest of us just don't need to.

So glad to see/read you and that I happened to see you tweet this post. :)

Claudia said...

I think you are right in not adding the TT. Yoga in your case is your business after all, and I do not even think the Bloomberg article added it...

Then the cost is soo low compared to what they were thinking!

Good to read from you Kai, and thanks for the link.

Grimmly said...

Wonderful to have you back Kai, been away too long.

Sarah said...

It is so telling that the corporate world sees yoga as a commodity -- and "going all out" means buying in.

I love your itemization... All of my public teaching is donation based - our studio offers 20 such classes a week for whatever they can afford in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY ... Some come in loose shorts or old gym shorts, some come in tights.

Keeping it real. Thank you for sharing this! Like an antidote to the commercial construction.

asiamorela said...

The comparison with a Starbucks coffee sounds very familiar; I do that kind of math all the time! I'm so far from being a spender, yet I hate hearing all the penny-pincher comments against spending a few dollars more for *things that matter*. Realistically, the question most people should ask themselves isn't: "Can I afford this?" but: "Where do I choose to put my money?"

I am also a little disturbed by the implication contained in the phrase "going all out". Should I feel like my practice is worth less because I don't spend every money I can on yoga? If someone is determined to spend, they will do it whatever the field/area; it has nothing to do with yoga as such.

Anonymous said...

Okay, 2011 is by far my most expensive yoga year ever, since I did YTT and bought a bunch of new clothes for that (after way too long practicing in a small cozy shala in beat up too-thin Target tights). There was also a long reading list for which I purchased a dozen or so books.

YTT was a two hour drive and an international border away, so I took about a dozen trips this year to wrap up all my class requirements. I also did three other workshops. So I think I went well beyond "all out" and still came in at right around $8000, even with my usual studio fees at home and including my lodging and parking in Large Expensive YTT City.

In a normal year (i.e. monthly passes, one weekend workshop somewhere nearby, a few new yoga pants on sale somewhere), I am at around $2000.

Spina said...

My favourite yoga blogger of all times is back! Nice :-)

Muldoon said...

First time to comment on your blog :)

The biggest expense for me has been the search for the right mat combination. I'm no where near a shala, so one DVD at the moment...and a book or two.

I believe Bloomberg lumps a Yoga practice into a boutique business. I'm sure it does fit for some, for those who think that yoga class is a fashion show.