Pay What You Can, Yoga Is For Everyone

6 November, 2012

Christmas is on the horizon and I’m brainstorming presents for the whanau.  Thinking back to this time last year a well-meaning friend suggested that I look into Oxfam donations and buy each of them a goat.  What a noble idea!  A perfect opportunity to spiritually spoil those who couldn’t wish for more…

Christmas day swiftly arrives and I excitedly hand out my micro financing for woman, 2 pigs for a village and cattle manure to my half giddy on champagne and hot breakfast full darlings.  The donations are received with mixed reviews, “Awww how thoughtful” ‘s and “That’s very cool” ‘s abound to begin with… only later in the day to be usurped with cheeky jokes about ‘Kate’s goat gifts’ and more direct statements like “I can’t believe you got me a goat”.

goat 2

I come from a loving family.  But whether their consciousness is in the right place regarding donation and charity is yet to be determined.

In November, Sydney will see it’s first donation based yoga studio.  Already a popular trend in larger cities in the US, donation or ‘pay what you will’ structured studios try to differentiate themselves in the ‘yoga is a commodity’ debate.  It got me to thinking about what I’ve paid for yoga, how much it’s worth, how much you think it’s worth and if it really is a luxury only afforded by upper middle class folk in fancy CBD locations.

Looking around a lot of popular Sydney yoga studios, it does look like yoga is changing in to a business of franchised yoga where on the outside it’s all ‘acceptance, peace and love…’ however, when you actually practice the classes, you come to see that it is just ‘gym’ yoga with teachers trying to make the class as hard as possible and super fit and skinny students not happy until they feel like they’ve gotten a ‘work out’.

back bend 2

This year I have embraced that yoga’s first purpose is to ‘un-do’ and to help heal and connect the mind and body, not pump you up and sweat till you drop to the floor feeling bad or inadequate because you can’t hold crow pose for 10 breaths and fold casually forward in to a tri pod headstand.

Crawf Weir Director of Barefoot Yoga, Sydney’s first donation based studio is preaching ‘yoga for everyone’ and the commitment of taking only what you need.  Fundamental truths that resonate in the 8 limbs of yoga set out for us in the sutras.

This weekend I was lucky enough to participate in one of Weir’s first classes ordaining the new space.  Located behind The Palace Verona Cinema in Paddington the calm oblong shape with its sandy wood floors and bright open windows is already buzzing.

A prior home to a famed Ashtanga studio where Weir confirms the legendary Pattabhi Jois taught several times.  Once we start practicing the energy of the room is palpable, creating the ritual here will not be difficult.


Weir’s style, which is self confessed inspired by godfather of power yoga Bryan Kest, is strong, flowing and compassionate. I feel challenged, but given the grace to rest whenever I like.  The other yogis in the room range from beginners to experienced, Weir’s old blonde dog Murphy looks on in adoration.  There’s a good vibe and students leaving with sunny dispositions and intentions of return.

Including the Lululemon mortgage, mats, coconut waters, memberships, workshops and trainings I don’t care to think how much I’ve invested in my little hobby.  Because I’ve always enjoyed yoges more than going to any gym, I’ve always made that argument, paying anywhere between $20 for a one off class, $140 for a month unlimited or $32 a week for longer memberships.  Although Weir’s opening class was generously free of charge, I would of happily parted with a $20 for the experience.

give it away

Despite it’s almost maccas franchising, my hope as yoges becomes more main stream is that more people in society are interested to experiment, not just type A, slightly off centre, middle class kids in CBD’s.  A return to the community focused studios where true teacher/student relationships can flourish are in demand.  With its many thousands of benefits, including a healthy, tension free body and a centred and clutter free mind – the experience yoga offers is truly priceless.

Here’s what other YB fans thought…

img 0737Roopi -  Yoga Teacher, Sweetheart

“I think running and owning the studio would be really challenging, because the offerings would vary so greatly from person to person.  It’s a popular idea in the US and I practiced in a studio there once, the standard donation is $10.  I would pay a minimum of $10 – $20, but would be inclined to pay even more for a brilliant teacher”.



img 0736acqueline - Director of  21 Days, Designer, Yoga Teacher, Mum, Stunner

“I think it’s a clever idea being the first donation based studio in Sydney, it will probably be successful because of this.  Yogi’s in town will definitely support it.  I’d pay between $10 – $15”.



img 0738Charmaine ‘The Char’– Director of Yogi Pins, Yoga Teacher, Architect, Blogger, Happening

“I think it’s really great.  A good opportunity to give back to the community, so people who can’t normally afford to practice can.  However, from a business perspective I don’t know how it would work. I would definitely go, especially if I resonated with the teachers.  I would pay $10”.



img 0735Mark– Owner Mantra Yoga, Master Yoga Teacher, Inspiring

“Great concept and idea.  I’m not sure if consciousness of the community is quite ready, but I will be interested to see how it pans out.  It’s a real invitation for people to be more conscious.  The energy of giving and receiving is important in yoga.  When you see the guru it’s traditional to give something, a flower, small gift.  It highlights the importance of Shakti and Shiva, the eternal dance of energy and consciousness. I would pay $20 for a one off class, but if it was a master class I would be inclined to pay $60 – $80 depending on what I was learning”.


What’s yoga worth to you?

Photos thanks to Pinterest 

Follow Barefoot Yoga on Facebook for more news about their opening schedule..


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