Sometimes I hear new teachers say, "I don't feel like it's fair to charge for yoga. It should be free and accessible for everyone."
I've gone through that same thought process, and I still understand the sentiment: I, too, wish everyone could and would reap the benefits of yoga.
If we, as teachers, are truly practicing what we preach about being loving, inclusive, and generous, shouldn't we offer our services for free?
In a word, no.
What we do is valuable.
My teacher told me, "Don't charge too much. Don't charge too little." Yoga teachers spend a lot of time and money to become teachers, and to stay teachers.
We invest in ourselves so we can give back to our students, and it's perfectly fair to expect them to offer something in exchange. If we were to constantly give without receiving, we would quickly feel depleted, burnt out, and underappreciated. What kind of teachers would we be then?
Money is simply a form of energy.
It's the one we most often agree to exchange for goods and services, but we can agree to accept any currency we value. I currently meet once a week with a friend of mine to give him and his wife a private yoga class.
In return, he gives me a massage. It's a balanced exchange where we both offer our specialized skills to receive something we need and want.
When we don't pay for things, we don't value them as highly.
People are more likely to commit to something they've paid for in one way or another, and that's important to most teachers: we want our students to commit to their practice and experience what yoga can do for them when they get on the mat consistently.
If we're not asking for payment in some form, we're indicating that we don't value ourselves and what we have to offer.
Remember: by teaching yoga — or doing anything in the world that you do well — you're being loving and giving by sharing that talent and knowledge, even when you do receive something in return. When you feel called to share more, offer a free or donation-based class every week, or volunteer to teach at homeless shelters, assisted living homes, and community centers.
For everything else, gratefully accept payment as a token of a student's appreciation for what you do. You deserve it.