February 17, 2015

Yoga Education for All.


It’s a bit difficult to come to terms with the commercial culture of the yoga world today.

It is not only costly for students but also for teachers. I believe the new yoga economy is about how to reach the 90% of the country that are not regular participants of yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

The potential is endless for the private, social and public sector on so many levels. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness will allow us as people to materialize the quest for a happier and healthier life.

I am suggesting that we ought to rethink the cost of yoga education for current and future teachers. Decision makers in the yoga world must look at capital in more than just financial terms. After all, the endgame of a being in the yoga business can’t be solely a financial reward and investment. There are plenty of potential yoga teachers or current yoga teachers with a wealth of talent that struggle to find cost effective yoga education opportunities. This needs to change.

As the demand for yoga services increase in schools, senior centers and underserved communities there needs to be more cost-effective continuing education programs for yoga teachers. I’m the co-director of a health and wellness yoga service organization in New York City. Being a yoga teacher is tough and any yoga teacher can tell you all about it. I see this struggle in the work and emails of over 60 staff and volunteers that help us reach over 4,500 people in NY and VT.

Access and affordability is still a barrier to entry to the majority of Americans that might need and benefit from yoga most. Don’t get me wrong, there is cheap yoga in just about every town. But there needs to be more affordable yoga programs for students and especially teachers. Many studio businesses show that it is possible to offer yoga to students at a very reasonable cost while running a cash flow positive operation. But in the same way there are affordable yoga programs for students, why don’t we have affordable trainings and continuing education opportunities for teachers?

It is possible to balance the needs of all the stakeholders of an organization while offering your yoga teachers free workshops, cost effective trainings and continuing education opportunities. I see it everyday. How? At Hosh Yoga in Brooklyn, our studio manager developed a teaching fellowship program for teachers that included a free teacher-only workshop every month. We also receive free workshop opportunities for our teachers from private partner studios. In addition, we are offering a free weekend training for our teachers to teach aging adults yoga.

We are currently exploring our most bold initiative. Hosh is exploring a 200-hr yoga training that will be one of its kind. Our training will be partially publicly funded and will benefit our whole North Brooklyn community. We will be offering the training free to high school seniors and our studio students will only pay $1,000 for the training program. The training will have community service components for both, seniors and studio students. And yes, you heard right. High school seniors with an interest in health and wellness professions will receive a free yoga certification and our yoga students will receive their yoga certification over 60% more cost effective than most trainings.

Now, we’re a nonprofit. We have a double bottom line: financial sustainability and helping people have access to health and wellness programs. But steps can be taken by the private sector as well. Private studios can crowdsource in order to make programs that address the cost of trainings and continuing education of yoga teachers a priority.

There are like-minded and heart-minded yoga professionals and students in your social network ready to leap into teaching yoga for all communities. Let’s have the courage to address the cost of yoga education in dynamic ways. Imagine, on top of being buried with $30,000 in student loans, a prospective yoga teacher also has to think about another $3,500 for a 200-hr certification and another $4,000 for a 500-hr certification. It’s time to democratize yoga education for all. Let’s get to work!


What Higher Education Can Learn from Yoga.


Author: Henry Cross

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wikipedia

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