At a recent Business of Yoga workshop for teachers in Baltimore, two attendees complained about teachers who offer low cost or free public yoga classes. They accused those teachers of "undercutting the market." I call bullshit. The truth is that haters of discount classes are actually undercutting the yoga. Here's why.
Some people can't afford YogaWorks or YMCA memberships or even a drop-in class. The complainers said, "Everyone has disposable income that they could spend on yoga." These two middle-aged teachers, who spent $55 on the yoga workshop we attended, appear to be out of touch with the lifestyles of those with significantly less wealth. So much for compassion in the practice of yoga.
Each night, there are original rock bands in your town playing small bars with no cover charge. They might earn $150 to split between 5 musicians. By playing for that low amount, are they undercutting the market for your local U2 cover band who are paid $800? And is the U2 cover band undercutting the market for the real U2 who make tens of thousands of dollars per show? It is only a good thing that there are a variety of cost and experience options for music fans to enjoy.
There was a portrait called "Jesus Laughing" inside the yoga studio where the workshop was held. Was Jesus undercutting the temple market when he gave sermons for free in the mountains? Perhaps the complaining yoga teachers would say yes. Maybe Jesus is laughing at them.
To all yoga teachers, teach whomever you are able to teach. If you're able to charge more and people fill your classes, fantastic. If you prefer teaching for free in the park, great. If you're offering $5 yoga at 6 p.m. in a church basement, awesome. Keep teaching.
To teachers who feel threatened by low priced yoga, focus on your own craft. Become such a mega badass that you perceive no threats to your market. Become someone who people will want to pay top money to practice with so that you feel less challenged by the concept of yoga for students who can not afford your class.
Yoga was not created to be an exploitable product. For those of us who are paid to teach, we are fortunate. If you're mad about another teacher's low class fee, get over yourself and reconnect with the concept of building the lives of others at all cost, even if the cost is free.