By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Sometimes, Yoga instructors are asked to teach classes for free; there is nothing wrong with giving your time for free, but this brings up many more underlying issues. Are “true Yogis” obligated to teach for free because anyone who would accept payment is violating the fifth Yama: Aparigraha? What is a “true Yogi?”
What is Aparigraha?

The term, Aparigraha, can mean many things, but the definition can range from voluntary poverty, to limiting your possessions, to only what is necessary. So, are Yoga teachers who receive payment for services “pseudo-Yogis?” After all, a true Yogi should never receive payment to teach Yoga – Right?

Wrong – In fact, dead wrong. The people, who talk this foolishness, do not teach Yoga, but will accept your services for nothing. They may accuse you of greed, covetousness, and hoarding. Yet, they accept payment for their livelihood.

So, here’s the logic: For a Yoga teacher to live with no money, and no material possessions, is fine because we have all taken a vow of poverty by the act of giving or teaching. If you believe this, please wake up. You live in a modern society, and you need to earn a wage in order to survive.

Unless you live under the protection of a fellowship or charitable trust, you have to consider food, clothing, and shelter a priority. What is your family supposed to live on, or should you give up the right to have a family too?

After you decided to become a certified Yoga teacher, it was only natural that people would want to receive lessons, sessions, or classes. Most of your students see a value in what you do, while a rare few do not.

There are always a few people who manipulate their way through life looking to get everything for nothing. In fact, they are practicing greed, covetousness, and hoarding, but will gladly take anything you have for nothing.

There is nothing wrong with giving, if you can afford to give your time or money. Karma Yoga is selfless service and it is goodness for all humanity, but do not feel guilty for accepting student tuition fees. How can you feed your family otherwise?

Please observe and learn from the fitness industry. The masses consider fitness to be physical torture. As a result, some health clubs charge less than ten dollars per month. The cost of a daily shower is more than $10 per month. Fitness centers also give a free month membership, in hopes that will lure new memberships.

How can they cover equipment, building lease, utilities, taxes, wages, and liability insurance costs? On top of this, health clubs run each other out of business by giving everything away for free.

The truth be known, the fitness industry is hanging on by a very thin thread, and that thread is about to break. Yoga is not fitness, we do not teach people who join for a New Year’s resolution and quit by Valentine’s Day. Yoga is a lifestyle, and changes are clearly seen over the long haul.

Every Yoga certification course should teach interns about marketing, networking, communication, business, and advertising. This is an essential part of surviving in any economy. Yoga teachers cannot give their time freely, unless they have the means to do so.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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