I woke up today worried in a big way.
You see, several of my dear friends and colleagues have, as of late, been dangerously and deeply affected by a condition sweeping the nation—Yoga Greed Syndrome.
As a community we are all in peril of this nascent outbreak becoming an entrenched epidemic.
Not sure if your studio, your city, or even you yourself may be suffering from this horrible affliction?
Never fear, because several symptoms have been identified in the early fight to stem the tide.
You’re sense of service may have been unconsciously compromised by Yoga Greed Syndrome if—
You are a studio owner that charges students exorbitantly but does not compensate teachers fairly. You own more than one studio or studios in more than one city. You open new locations in the same year that you’ve cut teacher pay. You trade memberships to members of the media.
You are a teacher who makes more than $50,000 per year as an individual or $100,000 for a family. You regularly refer to your livelihood as “your” teaching, “your” classes and “your” students. Or you are busy creating “your” own brand of yoga.
You run a yoga festival or event series that charges students anything, but pays teachers nothing (or close to nothing). You pay yourself a salary but offer teachers “promo-trade” or you pass off work-trade as Seva, or service.
You are a student who just has to get that fancy pose. You don’t feel like you fit in without wearing the trendiest clothes to class. Or you look into the mirror more than into your heart.
You run a publication that collects advertising fees but does not compensate for content contributions. You pay your editors but not your writers. Or you sell or trade away your journalistic integrity (see above).
Unfortunately, none of us are immune.
If you suspect that you may have been exposed to Yoga Greed Syndrome abroad or at home please consult your local, independent yoga studio or teacher for an immediate evaluation.
It’s impossible to tell in these early stages of this outbreak how many yogis, cities and offerings have become infected with Yoga Greed Syndrome—the early prognosis is a great many.
But, there is hope! Leaders in the field have theorized that it is possible to inoculate yourself from Yoga Greed Syndrome. One can do this by creating a sliding scale for student costs, compensating teachers fairly relative to the management and ownership, or by carving out a slice of your offering as a donation. This could mean aligning with an existing charity that champions values you resonate with like The Give Back Yoga Foundation, Off the Mat Into the World, or The Prison Yoga Project. It might mean offering, teaching, or taking a donation class once a week, or even once a month to start.
All jokes aside, its time to decide.
Do we really want yoga to be available to everybody?
In America, Yoga has become a white, upper-middle class practice.
Together, we can change this, but not until we take ownership of what has become of this epidemic. “Yoga-Business” is an oxymoron. But “Yoga-Service” is a model we can bank on.
If we all serve from a place of abundance, we can trust that the same will be given back to us. When greed tempts our intentions beyond a place of yoga-service, grace is compromised, whole communities and individuals who could benefit greatly from yoga are passed over, and Yoga Greed Syndrome finds a welcome home.
Choose wisely, yogis. In this democracy, the dollar bill is the only ballot with any merit. We vote with our wallets whether it’s for a person, a product, or our practice.
Author: Justin Kaliszewski
Editor: Caitlin Oriel