Yoga is for… Everyone?

expensive yoga

I love yoga, I like how it makes me feel, I embrace the peace I feel during a session and it helps to keep my joints nicely flexible (now that I no longer dance). In addition, I have expounded the benefits of yoga to friends and family alike, I’ve even encouraged my husband to join me in an effort to lengthen his hamstrings.

I am a huge believer in the health, healing and emotional well-being benefits of yogic practice. However, I do wish it wasn’t such a drain on the finances.

I am a member of two online yoga communities and I utilise their programmes to the fullest, but it doesn’t replace the sense of community within a group, or the opportunity for feedback on the correct alignment of poses.

I believe that yoga has benefits for everyone, old and young, thin and fat, flexible and stiff or fit and inactive. Unfortunately, I don’t believe yoga is accessible to everyone.

There has been a recent revolution in yoga photographs and articles, showing a fuller-figured woman doing yoga. However, there seems to be a lack of larger men in these articles, although there seem to be plenty of older men (perhaps a throwback to yoga’s origins?).

I genuinely believe that price is one of the largest barriers to the enjoyment and participation in yoga for everyone.

I’m a member of a gym and I pay €40 per month for the privilege. It’s close to the average price for the region and for €40 per month; I get access to the swimming pool, the cardio gym, the weights gym and all of the available classes. Unfortunately, there is no yoga class; we have a Pilates class but no yoga. I have unlimited access to this gym, if I wanted to I could spend all day, every day, there.

There are several yoga studios in the city and the cheapest of them charges €10 per session if I pay as I go. Therefore, I can have only one yoga session per week before I have paid the same for my yoga sessions as I have for my fully inclusive gym membership. Don’t misunderstand me, for €60, I can go to two yoga sessions per week, so the more yoga sessions I attend the bigger my discount.

Now we come to the issue that plagues me. Yoga was never intended to be a complete fitness programme; it has its fitness and health benefits, but doesn’t replace other methods of keeping fit. Why, then, is it so significantly more expensive than an inclusive gym membership? No, I don’t know the answer.

I think I may have an idea why yoga is so expensive and it’s not a good reason. Yoga studios fixate on yoga, as you would expect, but yoga doesn’t attract the same number of individuals as your average gym. Therefore, their overheads for running dedicated premises are way in excess of that for a gym.

Consequently, the way to enjoy a full excercise regime, and a yoga regime (with all of its associated mental and physical health benefits) is to more than double ones health and fitness budget. Yoga would be more financially viable for more people and more teachers if there was more collaboration between fitness centres and the yoga community.

I appreciate the effort that goes into creating a restful and conducive atmosphere in a yoga studio, but it’s not necessary, for an effective yoga practice, to have more than a peaceful soundtrack (or silence if preferred) and a yoga mat (additional tools as the participant requires).  The very act of creating a space specifically for the practise of yoga to the exclusion of all else is elitist and exclusive, driving up the cost of participation.

In conclusion, “yoga is for everyone” becomes “yoga is for those with more money”. It loses something in the transition, doesn’t it?

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