Should Yoga Teachers form a Union?

Via elephant journal
on Mar 13, 2010
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annie carpenter

Happy Ending to a Sad Affair: Annie Carpenter, senior Yoga Teacher at YogaWorks, will Finish one last Teacher Training.

Update via Facebook: Wonderful news, YogaWorks is going to allow Annie to finish her teacher training. From YW on FB:

For anyone in this 200 hour program please come this evening. There will be an open session dedicated to discussing your concerns. In person will be a much better forum than facebook and emails to answer all your questions. Thank You.

We don’t know much. Word on the street, from my Yogi Deepthroat source:

I was just told that Annie Carpenter (top teacher at YogaWorks) had put her notice in at Yoga Works a few months ago,

yesterday, she was fired on the spot in the middle of a teacher training that she was leading…..

this happened around 24 hours ago….

you should write this story as an indictment of the current status of yoga teachers

no health insurance

no job security

no ownership no power

write it as a call to action

it’s time for yoga to form a


Imagine if ALL of the YogaWorks teachers went on strike?

When a senior, well-respected teacher is disrespected, it’s sad and bad for our kula, community, sangha. That said, it must be a loss for YogaWorks to lose a senior teacher to a rivla studio, Exhale, and we have little information. If you have info, please leave in comments. Please be respectful, with good intention, toward all concerned.

annie carpenter yoga works yogaworks teacher

From Annie’s web site:

Big News!!!
After 14 years, I’ll be leaving YogaWorks.
You can find me at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement!
Check schedule page for classes, and workshop page for workshops and info about my July 200 hour Teacher Training.


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17 Responses to “Should Yoga Teachers form a Union?”

  1. I'm so sorry to hear this happened to her, especially in such a way. Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend these days…

  2. Does anyone know of many (or any) Yoga teachers who can afford to live on their teaching salary alone? Other than the few Uber-stars……..
    if Yoga is really that important in the lives of millions of practitioners and thousands of studios, shouldn't our teachers be duly compensated for their gifts and service?
    Fired on the spot?

  3. via
    many yoga teachers teach at small studios that simply don't have the revenue to provide health care or retirement. That being said, I'm sure that's not the case for megalith yoga studios like Yoga Works.

  4. Regiane says:

    I look at this drama filled event as a break up. Very often it is very difficult to take the hight road when a relationship is bound to end anyways. I know that Annie has a masters degree in family psychology ( or something like it) and she does know about partnership, she is a partner to each of her dedicated students in her own authentic way. And after 13 years, she has been to that studio al well.
    As her student of almost a decade I feel as if she is one of my most cherished relationships. A teacher, friend, guide who I am willing to share with all my colleagues because her presence is that of a huge spiritual caliber that needs to give of itself, it needs to expand, it is that infinite nature that can't be stopped.
    If I were in the shoes of those she decided to "break up with" I would be devastated, and it is understandable if they just couldn't take the "high road" these final steps of the way. What a loss it would be. I know that in the end Love always wins.

  5. p p says:

    why fire her when she had already resigned a couple of months ago?
    sounds like personal revenge.
    this is more than bad press for yogaworks and shows that beneath the flakey smiley overtone in many studios, there's a lot of issues to be dealt with…

  6. You really can't make any judgment at all about this without hearing the other side of the story. If YogaWorks is really as stupid, heartless, and greedy as everyone here seems to be assuming, that should be evident enough in time, and we can tar and feather them accordingly.

    But to get all upset without knowing all the facts seems senseless to me. Why not try to get the whole story first? In this case we don't have newspaper article quality information from either side yet.

    Bob Weisenberg

  7. Amen. I've asked for more info, and am waiting.

    We wanted to put something out there—other than this, all info thus far has just been rumor and gossip on Facebook. Hopefully, we can help offer a forum for uplifted, reasonable, productive discussion with minimal gossip and rumor.

  8. Seems like YW deserves credit for working with this openly, there was a discussion at the studio last night according to their facebook page, and AC has been allowed to complete the training, which is great for the students who had started down the path with her.

  9. Well, we don't really have the 411 on anything, as I say below! We're just offering a forum, here, so that all parties can have an open forum.

    Mathew Gerson, my pal, is really passionate about the need for a Yoga Union, and I made that the title in support of that fascinating notion.

  10. I personally have no interest in the possible Drama of this event. What I saw was an opportunity for the entire yoga community of practitioners and teachers to take a deeper look at how teachers are treated on the whole……

    Almost every Yoga teacher I knows has a second or third job, struggles to afford health insurance, many simply feel that their Yoga teaching is more of an offering of service than a career as it simply does not pay the bills.

    While this might be a noble point of view it does not seem to me that practical or even "yogic" as it neglects the importance of "Right Wage" aka. Living Wage in the Right Livlihood equation.

    I had a great discussion with Waylon regarding these issues last night, and clearly neither of us have enough information to set up solid opinions…..what we both could agree on is that something seems awry in the industry and that perhaps this event with Annie could act as a catalyst for all of us to take a deeper look…..

  11. Geo says:

    Annie was fired for passing out coupons/promoting her new studio during a YW class. She was not fired during class. I would have fired her too if it were my studio.

  12. anonymous says:

    I feel that YogaWorks does not pay their teachers enough. Subs make $35/class and if there are 30 or more students, you get $40. For me, it is not really worth it to travel 1/2 hour-1 hour and pay gas and a $6 bridge toll in order to pay a class. If I'm crossing a bridge to get there, I end up really only getting $20 after subtracting gas, bridge toll, and tax, even if the class has 20-30 people in it. At most other studios you could be making 80-150 for that many people in a class. They make you feel like you are privileged to be able to teach there, but in actuality they are exploiting us.
    I think the YogaWorks method is great and I like that they encourage their students to get monthly passes by offering cheaper monthly passes, but I think they should share the wealth a bit more with their teachers!

  13. anonymous says:

    I enjoyed "anonymous" comment above – who can work for $40/class anymore? I think we should be more transparent together about what we make. In my teacher training, I talk frankly about wages and help people "do the math" on what they'll have to earn per class to make a living here in Boston. It helps people realize if/when they can teach full-time and helps them ask for a fair wage when they're looking for more work. Experienced teachers should be earning at least twice what the above quote mentioned Yoga Works pays (no idea if it's accurate).

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  15. Linda B.Churchill says:

    would like to gather more information on union or wage protection/unionization for us teachers. Last Sept I was FIRED from teaching when I complained that for the fourth time the agreed compensation had been lowered and I was not receiving the pay per class that was agreed when I was hired as an IC. Fired on the spot, and my pay was lowered retroactively for that month resulting in less pay than I had earned. Wages offered and paid for qualified, experienced yoga teachers is not universal here in this area or in line with other professionals in the alternative health healing trade at all. I would like to find others interested or whom have information on protection and fairness for yoga teachers. 200 RYT training in the $3000 + range and that is rather consistent thru the northeast, out our pay be in line with that high cost to train….Any information you have would be most appreciated. Namaste! I'm off to carry the message of Yoga.

  16. György Lukács says:

    Yogis are proletarians too! Unionise for a living wage today and a socialist society tomorrow! (Afterall, does yoga not mean union?)