MaryAnn Busso in her Bloomberg piece The Real Cost of Taking Up Yoga worked out that a start-up year of yoga would cost a 37 year old New Yorker $10,779 (£6,775.)
‘Bloody ridiculous’ I grumbled across the breakfast table. ‘$40 on yoga socks? $152 on Adagio Organic Tea? $860 on yoga conferences? Is Busso mad?’
Intent on proving her mad I got my calculator out and cast my mind back to the year I took up yoga.
It started well—I crossed out several of Busso’s high cost items immediately:
$860 on a yoga conference
$1200 on acupuncture
$1800 on privates
$3590 on a Balinese yoga holiday
Then I crossed out several of her more esoteric calculations:
$40 on yoga socks (what’s wrong with bare feet?)
$70 on YogaToes and YogaHands (what’s wrong with pedicure toe separators from the local pharmacy?)
$126 on yoga bras (M&S is fine with me)
$152 on Adagio Organic Tea
Then I started totting up my own spend:
Classes: three a week with Simon Low £1400 – rather more than Busso’s $1150.
Holidays: After only one class I signed up for Low’s holiday at Huzur Vadisi, Turkey, spending around £600 plus flights to sleep in a yurt with a hole in the roof, ‘built for star gazing.’
Workshops: I’d say Busso’s estimate of $118 was on the low side; I spent £250 in that first year – one weekend with Sarah Powers and the other with Shiva Rea who managed to get me into a handstand – well worth it for that alone, though I’ve never done it since.
Massage: $392? And the rest! I had no idea I had muscles in all those places.
Food and drink: In no time I was mainlining a box of Yogi tea @£3 a week – maybe I should’ve economized with Adagio.
Clothes: OK I may not have gone for the socks and the yoga bra but I was a sucker for the two £40 each après yoga t- shirts with suspect Sanskrit-ish writing down the arms, and let’s not forget the two workout vests from Cyndi Lee’s OM yoga studio that I paid a friend to bring back for me… and what about the two Elvis vests that another friend was wearing in class that I just had to have?
Equipment: The mat, the mat bag, the strap, the bolster, the beautiful wooden Iyengar inspired blocks probably set me back £150. At least my yoga blanket was a multi-tasking pashmina from Joseph that I’d owned for years.
Music and concerts: Only 2 Krishna Das CDs? Busso has to be kidding! I bought his entire back catalogue, and Deva Premal’s, plus every Buddha Bar CD ever released.
Books: Only three Busso? What’s the matter with you? Light on Yoga, The Heart of Yoga, Awakening the Spine, Autobiography of a Yogi, A Search in Secret India, The Spiritual Tourist etc etc… plus the glossy $75 Yoga Journal tome stuffed full of yoga masters, and still inspiring me today.
Miscell: Add in the home practice DVDs, the £4 a month we Brits have to pay for Yoga Journal, the leggings, the eye pillow, the travel to and from class, and I don’t think I’d have got much change out of £4000, or nearly $6500.
At the time I was working in advertising and could afford to spend such sums but eventually the practice of (as Simon Low put it) ‘peeling back the layers that stood between me and my true self’ led me to leave the ad business, and now I earn half the money I once did – writing books, conducting qualitative research, helping small to medium sized businesses connect with their customers, building a yoga resource website…
So you could argue that the total cost of that first year’s yoga was half a lifetime’s earnings, and I’d say it was worth every penny – far from being mad, it was the only route to sanity.