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