"Yoga is free but electricity is not"-J Brown Yoga (From his August 21st Podcast with Nischala Devi.)
The first rule of Yoga is Ahimsa. Yes, there are some rules to this practice and they are basically ethics.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.35 says: "ahimsa-pratishthayam tat-sannidhau vaira-tyagah" and the translation from my Sankrit teacher Manorama's website is “When the yogi is firmly established in physical, mental, vocal and spiritual non-violence, ahimsa, there is abandonment of enmity by those who are in his or her presence.” (PYS 2.35, transl. by Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati)". Ahimsa and it's application in our lives is balanced by all of the other ethics teachings. This balance helps us to remain aware of our ego through self study and not let self preservation turn our practice of Ahimsa into greed, untruthfulness, or discontentment.
This practice of non-violence in all areas of life starts with the self and I think the act of devaluing yourself and the gifts you have to offer is an act of self violence. And I for one am done with it.
So in the spirit of Ahimsa I say unto thee (the people who keep asking), no, I do not offer free trials of my classes and I will not lower my costs just because you think its expensive. I charge a fair price for my services, offer special deals when I can (NO NOT Groupon because that is basically criminal), and I give my all into each class. I will not be harming myself anymore and I am asking (actually pleading with you) to stop harming me and my fellow teachers and studios.
In public classes, which are less expensive than my privates or small group lessons, the money you pay is SPLIT with the studios. I then have to find a way to pay for my insurance, transportation, continued training, equipment, music, advertising, and uniforms I use to teach. Not to mention find some left over to cover my personal rent, clothing, healthcare, and food. The studio also has to pay for their expenses and still make some money to live on.
I know that people want to "try out" a class since they may not know me or know the studio. To that I say, would you ask a restaurant to let you try out a meal to see if you like it? Would you ask a hairdresser to give you a cut and color for free because they are new to you? How about a massage professional, manicurist, dentist, writer, or designer? Are you any of these things or another kind of freelancer? How do you feel when people ask you for a freebie? Yea, I thought so.
I have spent thousands of dollars and years of my life studying, training, practicing, and improving my craft. I am serious about this practice. I am a good teacher and I am continually working on becoming a great one. Many teachers do. We are the reason you can Google "benefits of Yoga" and come back with pages of results detailing the physical, mental, and social benefits of this practice.
I am a professional teacher and not doing this as a side job. I have been practicing for about 17 years now and teaching for 8. I think my experience and professionalism comes through in my classes. I keep learning and training because it is my passion and it is important. I'm sure you can find cheaper classes out there from other teachers who can support themselves with another job or through family support. Go find them and god bless. But remember the old saying "you get what you pay for".
The teachers who do not have the experience, training, or singular focus are out there and offer themselves in a variety of ways and usually for less money than I charge. I just watched a few "interesting" free YouTube "beginner classes" with half dressed "teachers" taking us through a practice better suited for the cast of Circ du Soleil. They looked beautiful but I was having trouble following their sequencing and left questioning why they felt that a pose like Tittibhasana was really right for the warm up phase (ok I exaggerate but not by much). I even walked out of a class once while living in Thailand because the teacher, sweet as she was, was taking us (older students and brand new Muy Thai fighters who were stiff as a board) through some seriously high level poses that were putting joints and muscles at risk.
I am now in a position where I will be taking on side work again to support my teaching. I will be looking into more sources of revenue and for more ways to save money (brown bag lunches and mending of clothes). I will even add a donate button to this site because I really want to continue to be a teacher and student of this amazingly beneficial practice. I will keep doing what I can and ask again that you please not ask me to do it for free.