I wrestled with a few different drafts of this month’s letter. Its purpose is to explain MYBW’s decision behind the radical reduction of our fee structure. Not that an explanation is necessary, though aside from the happy and appreciative feedback we’ve received because of the announcement, we’ve also been met with surprise and even some suspicion. I don’t know how else to put it, except that from our very second week of service (our first week was free), we’ve heard that the cost of practicing has been an issue for many students. And I’ve ever since looked for a way to diminish this expense for as many students as possible.
Historically, yoga instruction was an individual experience, an experience had between one teacher and one student. An energetic trade took place where, in exchange for the teacher’s time and instruction, the student would donate an item or a service that was available for the offering. It was a two-way donation based on the combination of what felt right between the two parties and what could be afforded.
I have often fantasized of creating such an exchange, whereby all students would pay for each and every class ‘by donation’. MYBW’s Energy Exchange Program is based on this very approach. In this day and age though, because most everything must be acquired with real dollars, such donations would have to be in dollars. The financial overhead of most yoga studios is considerable, though the overhead for hot yoga studios is generally well above all others. So the level of risk required to take MYBW into that realm is not one which I have ever felt brave enough to embrace (especially considering all those who draw some or all of their financial income from the studio).
If a studio is not run completely ‘by donation’, there will always be someone who will view classes as being financially inaccessible. Presumably like many other studios, MYBW has never turned a student away because of finances and MYBW has never raised it’s prices (save for the HST introduction). Though how do we make it a studio that is truly accessible to the income of as many students as possible?
A lot of thought, calculating, projecting and care has gone into our new fee schedule. As best we can determine, the studio will maintain it’s modest income while making more classes more accessible to more people. Success of this projection is much dependent on an increase in students, so we ask that you spread the word. We ask that you share the space and the teachings with as many as possible. We ask that you share the experience with others in our community--the experience that keeps you coming back.
Those of us who serve at MYBW are sincerely grateful for all of you who have supported this studio up to this day. We look forward to being with even more of you tomorrow.
See you in the practice room.