Saturday, March 11, 2006

Friends should teach friends yoga

The very cute home-based yoga/pilates studio next door to me offers a 1-month membership for $130. The YMCA down the block has a variety of yoga classes available with membership, but with only 1 teacher at the front of the room for a large group of people. Downward Dog on Queen Street seems to be the hippest place to go for yoga classes, but many people I've spoken to feel intimidated by the vibe there.

What's the common denominator of these places? They make access to good yoga inaccessible. $130 per month? Come on, now. Granted, it's a home-based business and that's an excellent kind of market to support -- but only $5 Starbucks latte-sippers will be able to afford that regularly. What about the rest of us pleebs? Hipness and intimidation have absolutely no place in a yoga practice. And maybe the Y just needs a suggestion slip filled out asking for multiple assistants in the yoga classes to correct people's postures and assist those with tight hips and stiff shoulders (like, all of us).

So what's the answer? Yoga at home with friends!

Last year I went weekly to my friend Mo's place, and along with our friend Angela, I would lead a good 2-hour session that helped them learn yoga and get stronger and more flexible. I got much fulfillment from providing this for my friends (who were very appreciative) and also physically felt the results I would normally get on my own. This spring I'm doing the same but in my home office with my friends Brian and Amber (Mo and Angela, I haven't forgotten you! I'm ready when you are to start back up), who are also new to yoga and want to limber up and release tension (I also like to make them sweat a bit, though!). It feels good to me, and it's another way to spend time with friends.

Not everyone would feel comfortable enough to teach yoga to friends. After all, there are intricacies in each pose that can make it either safe and effective or sloppy and even dangerous. But that shouldn't stop anyone! You can get a good yoga video and all do it together. Or pitch in and get a private instructor once in a while to keep you on the right path.

The last thing I'd want is for yoga instructors to be out of work. But if there are going to be costs involved that leave people out on the street, something's got to be done to make a wonderful practice like yoga be available for free to anyone who wants it. And I think we all need it.

N.B. I just discovered there is also a monthly Meet Up in Toronto to do yoga. Next week they're getting together at the Commensal, I think I'll go check it out to see if it's a good alternative to pricey studios and impersonal classes. I'll keep you posted... : )


Michael Cho said...

Great post! I agree wholeheartedly with this. Friends share with friends and being together doesn't have to mean just drinking or watching movies. Also, those big yoga studios are crap and totally on their way to being the next corporate thing...

Hurrays to you!

j. said...

I would love to take some Yoga classes. As a Vata, though, I should warn you that yoga has always helped me!

Just kidding.

p.s. No. I'm actually not kidding. ;)

Anonymous said...

I took up some yoga lessons back in India which were very affordable and effective. But now im in Dubai (UAE) and its filthy expensive here! So had to give it up :(

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

J, you're on! How much room do you have at your place? Is there... um... good ventilation? : )

B, I so know what you're talking about. That sucks! Can you do it at home or get a video? Or go back to India...! : )

Saroja said...

Really great post. There are some options in California. Bryan Kest in Santa Monica has donation based clases but its hard to get over there during the week from where I am. A great option is to go on and look for yoga groups. There are people getting together to do yoga and often it might be $5/donation. Yoga potlucks are a great idea too..where everyone gets together for food and yoga.