I want to clear the air on an issue that has bothered me since I’ve started practicing yoga: the sheer amount of money it costs to practice. When I first started practicing, I was making an intern’s wage while living in the city and was just barely getting my yoga fix on new student deals at local studios. It wasn’t until I had decent income that I could actually commit to a studio and shell out $100 a month to go. Aside from the cost of the classes themselves, you also have to consider all of the startup gear needed, from a nice mat to those fancy yoga towels. Oh, and don’t forget this season’s Lululemon top.
I know I sound bitter, but that’s only because I’ve always been a ghetto yogi. Let me clarify. I own one fancy towel and refuse to pay $25 for a towel I’m just going to sweat all over again (but if my family is reading this, feel free to grab me one for Christmas!). Once that one is dirty for the week, it’s back to shower towels for me. I also don’t spend $70 on Lulu pants because the last time I spent that much money on an item of clothing I don’t remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m really making a great investment in these clothes I’m about to sweat all over.” No, my yoga wardrobe comes from Target, and I like it that way. But why do I feel so offended? It seems that the values endorsed by the yogic philosophy are in direct conflict with what these studios and the fitness industry in general are suggesting yogis dress like. I know everyone is their own person, perfectly capable of making his or her own decisions…but isn’t there this inherent “cool” factor in looking completely stylish on your way to do yoga that just makes you feel great? Where did that come from?
Bloomberg wrote an article on this very topic a year ago explaining that, “On top of classes, yogis in search of their higher self are now buying higher-end equipment and traveling to exotic retreats.” Does the path to enlightenment now seem to come with a fee?
I go to yoga in search of stress relief from my job, school, etc., but I doubt that I would be paying $100 a month for yoga if I weren’t in a secure job — and those are the people who could probably stand to benefit from yoga’s transformative powers the most. That’s why I feel fortunate to have a resource like Yoga to the People in Seattle whose very mission is just that: to provide all of the benefits of yoga at a cost that people can actually afford.
So what do you think? Is the cost of yoga and everything that goes with it too high? Do you feel the pressure to buy high-end workout gear? Let me know in the comments below!