Making a yoga practice affordable isn’t easy for a variety of reasons, but in my quest to do so while underemployed is coming along. Here are some of the methods I’m using, along with pros and cons:
METHOD #1: Practice at home with free internet videos
Pros: FREEEEEEEE internet videos! All that’s needed is a mat and a strong wifi connection.
Cons: Motivation to begin is dangerously low, space may be an issue (our apartment is hilariously small,) and I’ve yet to find a challenging power yoga video online.
Conclusions: This method is great for beginners who are just starting a practice and don’t want to exercise outside in the cold.
METHOD #2: Community Classes
Pros: Studios with community classes often collect donations for a worthy cause instead of a class fee – so you feel like you’re doing something good with your yoga, and it’s a pay-what-you-can deal, instead of the usual $15-20 per class.
Cons: Can become very crowded – just go early.
Conclusions: If a good studio or gym offers a community class, go. Not only will you be getting a great teacher and a heated classroom, you’ll do some good with your pocket change. Check the schedules (usually on the websites) to see when these classes are offered.
METHOD #3: Groupon/Living Social Yoga Deals
Pros: You can get punch passes or monthly passes for a fraction of the usual cost on sites like groupon or living social by signing up for their daily deals. Just look for the pictures of white girls wrapping a tape measure around their waists – groupon loves those.
Cons: Be careful – although you’re not paying much, you can waste your money pretty easily here by buying a pass to a yoga studio that is subpar. It’s true that bad yoga is better than no yoga, but it’s really not much better – for example, I found myself in a class recently where the room was actually cold and the most challenging pose we did was cat-cow.
Conclusion: Maybe cat-cow is your thing! Just know what you’re getting yourself into before you buy. If you can, call the studio or even visit to look at the space, meet an instructor or two, and ask the students about the classes. I’ve fallen into this trap and learned the hard way an embarrassing amount of times, but I vow to follow my own advice on this one from now on!
METHOD #4: Class Trades
Pros: Most studios offer free classes to people who’ve agreed to come half an hour before and stay half an hour after to clean, do laundry, organize, and help with registrations. Sweet, free yoga!
Cons: It’s a good gig if you can get it: these are often very difficult, if not impossible, to arrange. Even if you have a great rapport with the studio owner and teachers, attend classes there regularly, ask a variety of people multiple times about trades, have signed up for their studio’s teacher training, (no bitterness here!) they’ll often just ignore you. This isn’t based on one experience with a studio: this is my experience with many studios in Nashville.
Conclusion: Just keep plugging along. With many studio classes so outrageously priced, doing even one trade a week is worth it. And you might just find that the one that says yes is just the right one for you (like I did!).
METHOD #5: Retail Promotions
Pros: In Nashville at least, Lululemon offers complementary classes at a variety of studios or even in the store free of charge.
Cons: Just like with the Groupon/Living Social method, consistency is an issue, although unlike group deals, you don’t lose your money if you find yourself in a class with minimal fitness benefits. Also, you risk putting yourself in a high-pressure sales situation.
Conclusions: The end of the sales pitches can be awkward, but if you’re shameless about your broke-as-a-joke lifestyle, honest with the staff, and maintain a sense of humor when they look you up and down and tell you things like, “You know, sometimes it’s necessary to make sacrifices for your body,” (“You’re right – who needs groceries, anyway?!”) then you’ll be fine. Sign up for facebook updates for various studios, gyms, and athletic retail stores for reminders and updates.
Method #6: New Student Promotions
Pros: Lots of studios offer excellent promotions for new students (for example, Shakti Power Yoga in Nashville offers new students 30 days for $30). Often, you don’t know until you ask.
Cons: If you’ve got little financial resources to invest, hopefully you at least have some time, because to take advantage of a new student promotion is to race against the clock. Time will run out and soon you won’t be able to get this rate again.
Conclusions: These can be great – just use these strategically. For example, If you know you’ll be out of town one week or you’ve got a big work or personal event that will take most of your time in the next month, wait a while to take advantage until you have the time to go as often as you can and get the biggest return on investment.
Although it’s ideal to try out a few studios, pick a favorite, and continue on with a membership, it’s possible to maintain a yoga practice on a budget.
What’s your favorite way to save money doing yoga? Did I miss anything? Let me know!