Teaching Yoga: for Love or Money?

Written by Karen Sahetya

Right or wrong, yogis are known for their peaceful, patient and generous spirits. Lucky for me, yogis are also very accepting of people who are different than them.

I happen to be fiery, passionate and terribly impatient; but, it turns out, they let me practice yoga anyway. Maybe they’re hoping that with just enough warriors and pigeons, I might find a little patience.

There’s an ongoing debate about teaching yoga for love or for money. Those married to the idea of teaching yoga for the love, that teachers shouldn’t get caught up in material things, often put aside the reality of the situation.

While there are days many of us would prefer to forget about the material things in our lives, the truth is that collection agencies probably won’t let us. Gone are the days we can barter and trade away our medical bills and shopping sprees.

In order to be sustainable these days, teaching yoga has to be profitable.

First of all, really talented teachers have to be able to support themselves and/or their families to spend their time teaching others instead of spending their days in a cubicle. I believe in good karma as much as the next yogi, but karma comes back around when it’s good and ready and it may or may not feed your kids. To get signage on your studio to attract new people, you have to make money. Unless you have exceptionally good karma, nobody is going to donate the sign for you.

Secondly, we’ve all heard that you get what you pay for, right? If all yoga classes were free or extraordinarily low-priced, what value would you place on your practice and on the instruction you get? Sure, the occasional free community class can help generate new interest, but we all invest in the things we care about and yoga should be no different.

Finally, your family physician isn’t going to share his medical talent with you for free, so why should you spend your talent and instruction with others for free? Value yourself, your talent and your practice enough to place a price on it. The truth is, nobody can ever really repay you for the joy and peace yoga can bring to their life.

If yogis really want to make more people aware of the benefits of yoga and spread the joy they find in their own practice, they should support the idea of teaching for love and money.

Making money doesn’t mean you’re teaching FOR the money. The money is what allows you to do what you love to do. Churches, education and other not-for-profits have to actually make money to keep bringing about the good they bring in the world.

So don’t feel like you have to choose between love and money, because there’s nothing wrong with doing it for both.

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