I had been in Gibraltar for two weeks and I was yearning for a yoga class. I was trying to practice on my own but you know how THAT goes. Time flies, activities get in the way, tourist sights beckon so practice became few and far between. I looked up yoga in Gibraltar on the internet and found Integral Yoga. It looked good. My only worry was the yogis in the pictures were wearing all white flowing garments and my yoga clothes consist of tight pants in multicolors! I was going to look like a peacock in a field of snow but I was determined to go anyway.
It took some time to find the studio in the warren of narrow cobble-stoned streets that is Gibraltar. The room was long and narrow and totally packed! A few friendly yogis moved their mats apart so I could squeeze in. I counted two rows of 13 along the outer walls and a few squeezed in between the rows! Michelle, our teacher for the night has been teaching for over 20 years and WAS wearing all white but everyone else was wearing normal yoga gear so I fit right in!
Michelle’s message for the night was to practice Ahimsa with ourself. She reminded us that sometimes we strive too much and can harm our bodies. She cautioned us to be gentle, take it easy and rest when needed. Her voice filled the crowded room easily. I found I could close my eyes and imagine it was only she and I. Her beautiful spanish accent making each asana sound more magical than usual.
At Integral Yoga the teachers do not get paid to teach. The students are asked to donate what they can afford. It is suggested 5 euros per week – which is about $7.50. The money that is collected is then sent to charities that are sponsored by the Integral Yoga School.
This is very different from how we do things in America. Yoga is big business with studios being supported by the monthly fees they collect from their students not to mention all of the expensive yoga gear they sell! Yoga studios are also now producing class after class of yoga instructors who each pay around $3,000 to earn their certification. My question is where are all these teachers going to teach? Soon there will be more teachers than students!
I have been trying to make a living by solely teaching yoga and fitness classes for over 3 years and I have found it almost impossible. My body can only physically handle teaching about 10 classes per week and at a maximum pay of $25 per class (It’s usually more like $15) That is only $250 per week. Also I have had to hustle to find classes to teach. I have been teaching at a retirement home, a private gym and a parks & rec department of a city all at the same time just to try to make enough money! Most yoga teachers I know have a full time job and then only teach yoga part time.
Is it wrong for us to be cashing in on yoga in America? Should yoga be shared as they do in Gibraltar by donation? I know I’m going to have to find some other way to make a living. As much as I love teaching yoga I just can’t afford food, shelter and clothing for $250 per week. I will keep teaching because I love it. I have even fostered yoga by donation classes in several locations because I believe there should be options for people who can’t afford a $15 drop in fee. It seems to me that we are squeezing our clients for more and more cash and those who cannot afford the expense are told, “No Yoga for YOU!”
It’s something to think about isn’t it?
Check out Integral Yoga and their philosophy here: here: http://www.integralyogagib.com/