should you teach yoga for free

Should You Teach Yoga For Free?

When you’re starting out as a yoga teacher, you might wonder if you should teach yoga for free? Even experienced teachers at times ponder this question.

There are people, including within the yoga community, who hold the view that there’s nothing wrong–even a lot of good–in offering free classes without teacher pay. There are also people who take the position that yoga instructors shouldn’t teach for free.

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Free Love, Free Yoga: The Temptation to Give away yoga classes for free

Yoga often brings yoga teachers down a love all, serve all path. Accordingly, it’s not a far leap to see how the idea of loving and serving others means teaching for free–or giving classes away.

However, as one of my Instagram followers recently pointed out in a story response, if yoga teachers intend to make yoga as a career, free yoga classes probably aren’t a good idea. After all, it’s hard to make a living from teaching yoga when you’re not getting paid. Free yoga classes aren’t exactly going to pay the rent or mortgage, bills, cover food or transportation costs, pay the babysitter, or help you buy cute yoga pants.

Your Time is Valuable

Years ago, one of my yoga teachers advised students in her teacher training program against giving away free classes. Your time is valuable. Your life energy is valuable.

If you choose to give away your time, set limits and boundaries.

Why? Some argue that when you give away free classes you aren’t valuing or respecting yourself, your training, your experience, or your own needs enough. For example, if you teach for free, you’re also absorbing the costs of that free class, like transportation or gas money expenses.

In addition, some hold the view that students don’t always truly appreciate free classes as much as they do when they pay for a class. Keep in mind, some argue that even a nominal class fee or class donation makes all the difference.

Recently, the controversy surrounding lack of payment for teaching services to yoga instructors was highlighted by a petition by yoga instructors who aren’t paid for teaching at U.S. National Whitewater Center’s Flow Festival or for regular yoga classes. You can read the petition, in which yoga instructors demand to be paid for their professional services.

Set Limits

Surely, there are times when offering free yoga classes makes sense. After all, it feels really good to give to others or give back to the community.

And sometimes, free classes can help you gain visibility or traction when you’re starting out as a new yoga instructor. In person or online.

Furthermore, offering free classes could be part of a viable marketing strategy. For example, creating yoga class videos on YouTube or yoga reels on Instagram or TikTok might help you grow your yoga brand or yoga niche. Free online content is often an effective way to gain subscribers and social media followers. And subscribers and followers can translate into yoga business revenue.

However, if you’re thinking of offering free classes, you might want to consider setting limits on your time. For example, you might limit yourself to offering 4 free classes a year. Or perhaps you choose one organization or cause that you gift a certain number of service hours to each year.

Don’t Feel Bad About Getting Paid to Teach

Whatever you do, don’t feel bad about accepting payment for teaching yoga. Yes, yoga is a practice and philosophy that can help people live better.

However, if you want to make a living from yoga teaching, you’ve got to keep in mind that it’s your business. You’re running a business here, not a charity or non-profit. At the end of the day, if you want your business to succeed and thrive, it has to make money!

There’s nothing wrong with earning money. Asking to get paid for your time, your skills, your training, your experience, and to cover your expenses, like studio space, doesn’t make you less of a yogi. It certainly doesn’t make you greedy. If you’re harboring the belief that to be an authentic, dedicated yogi you must get by with little or nothing, definitely ditch that fast.

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