Why Is Yoga So Expensive?

Written by Mary Beth Harral

“Yoga is SO expensive!” If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. My husband gets a lot of mileage out of the number of times each week that I practice yoga. Since I'm not currently bringing in an income, that means he’s technically paying for my yoga habit. (Please don’t go crazy and respond that we’re married, what’s his is mine, etc. – this is just for illustrative purposes!) His friends like to tease him about how much money he spends on yoga.

Compared to a monthly gym membership, perhaps yoga can be considered expensive. For an hour and a half, $12 or $14 or $16 probably seems like a ridiculous luxury when you can pay for a monthly gym membership for twice that.

But how much is your copay or self-pay for a therapist or psychiatrist visit? Ever take a sleep aid, even if it's just a glass of wine at bedtime? Sinus medicine for chronic illness? Insoles for your shoes to alleviate lower back pain? Even books and magazines are places we mindlessly spend cash searching for solutions to things that yoga can help solve!

I am not so naïve as to suggest that everyone seeking psychiatric treatment or therapy wouldn’t need it if they just went to yoga, but I can tell you one person for whom that is precisely true!

I do yoga four or five times each week. Go ahead, do the math. One place charges $11 each time, another maybe $12.

But I make my coffee at home and carry it in a travel mug instead of stopping at [insert your favorite coffee spot here].

It’s about priorities. I’m cognizant of what I spend and know it can seem like a lot. So I do my own pedicures, mostly, except for special occasions with a friend.

Before I started practicing yoga, back when I paid “less” money for a gym, I spent money on accessories. I had running shoes, walking shoes, Zumba shoes, the right socks, a combination lock, a trendy water bottle, a medicine ball, a large resistance ball, a pedometer, cute outfits all around…

Yoga can be the same way: clothes and mats can be expensive if I choose them to be. But I don’t spend much on my yoga attire, and once you're deep into yoga, you become a little less interested in wastefulness and a little more interested in awareness and conservation.

The tenets of yoga beget mindfulness. Which means I eat less, spend less, and act less frivolously in other situations.

Believe me, what I spend on yoga, I save in other areas.

I’m not making blanket statements, the world is far too complicated for that: but for me, my $11 yoga hour covers the cost of therapy, anti-depressants, shopping, and fad diets, beauty remedies, pain relievers, sleep aides, and detox supplements.

Yes, yoga does all of that for me.

The fact that it is an “exercise” class as well is just a physical bonus.

Maybe for you it’s not yoga – maybe it’s running, swimming, triathlons, dancing. In any case, we should all be willing to acknowledge that the money we spend on this type of self-betterment is simply a choice. You can call it expensive; I call it prioritizing.

If this sounds preachy to you, I just wish that you knew me better personally. My sisters, my friends, people who knew me twenty years ago, they will all tell you that I was an overweight, lazy, label-conscious, unhappy spending machine (when I wasn’t on the couch).

I am not a type-A personality, a tree-hugger, an exercise guru, or independently wealthy. What I am is healthy and happy, because I made myself a priority. Yep, that’s worth $11 a day, which is less than I used to spend on lunches alone.

Make yourself a priority, too. It is not expensive, it's simply a choice.

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