Transforming the Business of Yoga with…Pay-What-You-Can Yoga!?

Via Jayson Gaddis
on May 25, 2009
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picture-213Yup. You read that right. On May 26, 2009, my friends Quinn Kearney and Clarie Mark of Yogaview in Chicago are leading a bold experiment–pay-what-you-can yoga.

It’s been done before (google pay what you can yoga), but to see a high-level yoga studio that is considered one of the best studios in Chicago to lead the way on pay-what-you-can yoga is inspiring.

Could this be the perfect time to do this experiment? When I attend yoga here in Boulder, I’ve noticed a small drop in class size. In a climate where people are really watching what they spend and yoga has been a $27 billion dollar per year industry, this may confront the view that yoga is a highly profitable business. Perhaps it will remind us what yoga is really about?

Yoga studios everywhere, take notes. Will this challenge the $15-17 dollar per class drop-in fee? Will other studios follow their lead? What studio here in Boulder has the courage to try this one? How will starving yoga instructors make their money?

Yogaview is asking for a $10-20 donation per class. Their hope is that folks that can pay full price will and this will support folks that cannot afford it, but can pay something. If you live in the Chicago area, go support their grand opening on May 26th!

As they say on their website: “We believe the healing and spiritually uplifting gift of yoga is for everyone and that allowing more people to practice more often can make our world a better place.”


Wow. I am inspired. What about you?


About Jayson Gaddis

Jayson Gaddis, founder of The Relationship School® , and host of The Smart Couple Podcast , is on a mission to teach people the one class they didn’t get in school--”How to do intimate relationships.” He was emotionally constipated for years before relationship failure forced him to master relationships. In 2007 he stopped running away from intimacy, asked his wife to marry him and now they have two beautiful kids. When he doesn’t live and breathe this stuff with his family, he pretty much gets his ass handed to him. You can find him here: Jayson Gaddis or sign up for a free training here if you are dealing with an emotionally unavailable man like Jayson used to be. You can also become a fan on Facebook here: Jayson Gaddis Fan Page.


28 Responses to “Transforming the Business of Yoga with…Pay-What-You-Can Yoga!?”

  1. Hopefully that will work. I tried a similar model with Life Coaching and it didn't work–people either paid me my full rate or nothing, so I figured just charge a standard rate and have availability for sliding scale or pro-bono clients. Perhaps progressive studios could try a pro-bono model for those who are in financial need.

    And of course, asana at home–alone or with friends–is always free! Never forget that it costs nothing to move your body however you please. You are never dependent on a class or teacher for your liberation. Yoga DVDs are cheaper than a single class, and asana can be practiced on carpet if one cannot afford a mat (Iyengar has no sticky mat in Light on Yoga).

  2. Marianne says:

    My classes are pay what you can and some weeks I don't get enough to cover the hire of the room whereas other weeks I get more than what I would have charged. I like it because I know people will come every week if they are feeling it, not only on the weeks when they have the cash in hand. But then again, I'm not relying on my yoga classes for income, they are my community seva and a joy. So it must be different for people who have yoga businesses.

  3. sj* says:

    these are excellent, thoughtful questions. i look forward to a follow-up piece in a year or so. way to go chicago!

  4. Camilla Rees says:

    Nancy Candea, yoga instructor in Boulder, offers a free yoga class Tuesdays at Vida Yoga Studio at 1:30 p.m. for people who dont have a job.

  5. c.l says:

    Bryan Kest has done this for years… with an enormous amount of success. now, has studios in NY, San Francisco, Berkeley and opening in LA…

  6. Jewl says:

    Hi everyone. I own Sensorielle Spa in Boulder. While it isn't yoga, it is in the healing arts field. We began our pay-what-you-can model February 1 of this year. You might know that spa treatments can be pretty expensive. It was a risk for us, but in the end we have found it's worked out even better than we projected! I honestly believe it's the wave of the future 🙂 Best of luck to all who are willing and able to take the leap!

  7. JayGaddis says:

    Duff, Love that you tried this and bummer it didn't work out. Great recs for others, thanks!

  8. Jewl says:

    Did my original post get deleted? I was sharing our success with the pay-what-you-can model at Sensorielle Spa here in Boulder. ???? Is that not a relevant post?

  9. JayGaddis says:

    totally relevant. My wife recently went there and loved it. Not sure what happened. I don't see it anywhere behind the scenes. can you repost your link and info?

  10. Jewl says:

    Sure, happy to share again though I don't remember exactly the original post. Maybe a mercury retrograde glitch 🙂 I was saying that we have experienced success with the pay-what-you-can model. Our clients who can afford it pay our "suggested" price (which is based on competitive industry pricing) or more, and we are able to also treat those who can't afford high-end spa prices but need the care. I think we are the first luxury spa to try this model. Some clients are uncomfortable coming into the spa and saying "well, I can't afford it so i will pay xxxx amount" so they still save up to come when they can pay full price. Since it is such a different concept in the spa industry, it does conjure some discomfort and uncertainty, but in general, it's been working out even better than we originally projected. Overall we are finding a great balance and more abundance than we have experienced before. We are open to ideas on how to make this transition a comfortable one for all! Thanks for your support Jay. I truly appreciate it, and hope to see you again soon 🙂

  11. Nancy F. says:

    Karuna Yoga & Wellness Center in Capitol Hill, which just opened late last year, also does their donation based yoga classes…pretty cool.

  12. Jewl says:

    i see there are 2 replies but don't see the 2nd one…was it deleted again for some reason? maybe there is a glitch in the program?

  13. […] The Thursday afternoon yoga class is a community pay-what-you-can (PWYC) class, which I’ve been offering since before the economy crashed in the fall of 2008 (seriously!). There has been a lot of talk about how  the economic downtown has affected yoga classes and practitioners (YogaDork does a fantastic job of covering Recession Yoga with wit, charm and intelligence), and we’re seeing an increase in pay-what-you-can yoga classes around North America, as in this elephant journal post. […]

  14. russ says: sells cheap yoga supplies that helps keep the costs down for these community classes.

  15. nigel says:

    Yoga's good – so is locally made pottery, glass, wooden bowls….helps keep your $ in the US & Canada. Local artists make better coffee mugs (sic)

  16. trinaiggy says:

    If your looking for quality yoga mats and supplies all with great prices check out

  17. strobin111 says:

    the 2nd one…was it deleted again for some reason? maybe there is a glitch in the program? carpet store los angeles

  18. Jewl says:

    Can someone please do some spam control here?

  19. strobin111 says:

    a single class, and asana can be practiced on carpet if one cannot afford a mat (Iyengar has no sticky mat in Light on Yoga). digital wireless headphones

  20. the view that yoga is a highly profitable business. Perhaps it will remind us what yoga is really about?

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  22. This business can give good health to may people as their is lots of health benefits of yoga.

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  25. matureyogi says:

    We have a pay as you can studio her in Maine that does pretty well. Pro: makes yoga available for many who cannot afford classes;, fills up mainly with college students and 20 somethings who do not want to or cannot afford to dish out $17-20 for a class; cons: not much variety for the "older" yogi, also, inconsistent classes and teachers as the teachers are mostly new trying to get a foot hold in the yoga community as teachers. Great exposure for new teachers with the younger students.