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Yoga Classes on a Budget

Updated on December 13, 2012
Flying Pigeon Pose in Aerial Yoga Class
Flying Pigeon Pose in Aerial Yoga Class | Source

Practicing yoga can do wonderful things for both your physical and mental health. For your wallet, however, the habit can be quite uncomfortable, if not downright painful. It’s not unusual for classes to cost fifteen or sixteen dollars apiece and if you’re on a tight budget that can make regular attendance challenging. But that doesn’t mean that those watching their financial diet have to give up on classes and resign themselves to getting their yoga fix from scratched DVDs borrowed from the library. There are several ways to satisfy your interest in yoga classes without doing a number on your bank account.

Free and Reduced-Rate Classes

Some yoga studios, especially smaller ones, offer classes that are completely free or cost significantly less than their regular ones. Often called community or karma classes, their purpose is dual-fold: to attract new students who might be hesitant to pay for a class at an untried studio and provide a way for those with limited financial resources to practice yoga. Other variations include sliding scale classes, where attendees can choose from a set fee range, and donation classes where the payment is entirely at the student’s discretion.

The available number and frequency of these classes varies widely depending on the studio, as does who leads them. One characteristic most of these classes do share, though, is the times they are likely to be offered. Because they generate little or no income, studios tend to schedule these classes at times where they would not interfere with their more profitable regular classes. Early weekend mornings and weekday afternoons are common class times. Consequently, it may be challenging to find community yoga classes that fit into your schedule if you have a job with traditional weekday hours.

How do you find this type of yoga class? A good start would be a simple Internet search for free yoga classes in your area. You can also run a search for yoga studios and take a look at their class schedules. Where you live and the community’s overall interest in yoga will have a significant impact on the availability of these classes as well as how much digging you’ll have to do to find them.

Yoga 4 Love Outdoor Community Yoga Class in Texas
Yoga 4 Love Outdoor Community Yoga Class in Texas | Source

Work Exchange Programs

While by no means universal, it is not unusual for smaller yoga studios to offer programs where students can perform work in exchange for free classes. The nature of the arrangement depends on the studio, but cleaning and customer service are typical work-exchange student responsibilities. If you’re interested in pursuing a regular yoga practice these can be great positions, but it’s important to keep in mind that most studios only offer them to those who have been regular students for an extended period of time and are able to commit to working for at least six months.

Similarly, competition for work-exchange positions can be intense. Studios only need so much help and, because the majority of people hold nine-to-five jobs, there are a lot of students with the same availability. You’ve got a much better chance of securing one of these positions if you’ve got a flexible schedule and are willing to work when others are not.

Because of the way these programs work, just finding yoga studios that offer them can be difficult. Some advertise them on their websites, but many don’t so the best way to determine if a particular studio has a work exchange program is to ask.

Classes at the Gym

If you belong to a gym and your membership includes free classes, check to see if yoga classes are part of their regular offerings. The quality of gym-sponsored yoga classes varies wildly, and you most certainly won’t have the same kind of experience you would have at a studio, but these can be a good choice if your budget is extremely tight and you would be unable to take classes otherwise. Also, because you’re not spending any additional money on them, the only thing you’ll have to lose by trying one is time.

In terms of scheduling, taking yoga classes at your gym may be more convenient than taking free or reduced-rate ones. These classes are offered at times designed to work best for gym’s clientele, rather than times that would work best for the gym so people with traditional work schedules will have more options.

Promotional Offers

Websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Yelp frequently offer special deals on yoga classes. You can use them to search for discounts on classes at studios you already go to or, if you’re willing to hop around in order to save money, use them to follow the best deals. Just make sure you check to see if the promotion has any special conditions; specials are often designed to bring in new people so some studios only make them available to first-time students.

Yoga studios also offer discounts directly, either through promotions or class packages. Class packages allow you to prepay for a specific number of classes – common numbers are five, ten, and twenty – in order to receive a discounted per class rate. Typically, the more classes you buy at once, the less per class you’ll spend. You’re not going to save as much as you would by taking karma or community classes, but if you attend classes regularly it can make a significant difference in your spending. It also allows you the greatest freedom because classes bought as part of a package can, with a few exceptions, usually be used to pay for any of the studio’s offerings. Some studios also offer unlimited monthly or weekly rates, but unless you’re certain that you are going to attend enough classes to make each class cost less than the regular per class rate, these aren’t going to be your best option.

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