Yoga can be outrageously expensive, but why? Why does it cost so much? Where is my $20 per class or $100+ per month going? Fine, so yoga studios have to pay the rent and utilities and, duh, they have to pay the teachers, but aside from that, where is my money going? It’s not like they provide me my mat. And, on top of that, yoga clothes can be incredibly pricey. While in graduate school, it was nearly impossible for me to keep up with my practice due to the cost.
I desperately wanted to continue my yoga practice, but it was difficult to justify the cost of it given my modest graduate stipend of $600 per month…while living in downtown Chicago (full disclosure: yes, I did live in a residence hall… for free). After accounting for bills, groceries, and fun, I had very little left to devote to my yoga practice. Additionally, I am a horrible home-practice-yogi (I’d much rather sit on the couch in front of my tv than roll out my mat), and without someone guiding me I found it challenging to commit to a home practice.
Needless to say, I became really good at finding free and cheap yoga as well as other fitness events:
- Check Your Local Yoga Stores
If you don’t know this already, most many stores offer free classes! Lululemon and Athleta both bring in instructors from the community to teach a class once a week. Not only is this a great way to get free yoga, but you also get to test out instructors from across your city. Between the two, you can get in your Saturday and Sunday practice at zero cost! Best of all, you don’t have to buy anything first (insert sigh of relief here)!
- Keep An Eye Out for [Free] City-Wide Events
Summers in Chicago (and any city, really) offer so much! If you just take a look, there is often free yoga and fitness all around. Where I currently live in Michigan, the annual summer festival, offers free yoga on one of the university greens. The courses are offered during the weekdays, after work, which is great for the employed yogi. In Chicago, I took full advantage of Millennium Park Summer Workouts every weekend. My favorite event was taking a spin class during Chicago Bike Week in front of the Bean. Can you picture it? 200 stationary bikes lined up in Millennium Park, and it was all free! Bonus, at the end of these events, the guest teachers, often hand out coupons for their studio, score!
- Find a Bargain
It is totally okay to bargain hunt and studio hop! I am a big fan of deal websites (Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.). They can be a life-saver when you’re on a budget and are a great way to get to know different studios before you commit to “the one.” Over my two years in school, I probably went to four or five different studios, ranging from vinyasa, to core-power, to Bikram, and back again. All purchased off a deal site! Another bargain: If you are in or work at a college, check the university’s group fitness classes where you can find a variety of fitness opportunities without breaking the break. You get great yoga and other fitness classes, at a great price!
- Get More Bang for Your Buck
Okay, so this isn’t a way to save money, but it is a way to get more for your money. Because yoga gains popularity everyday, unique opportunities to practice are everywhere. Wanderlust has started “Mindful Triathlons.” You pay the fee, but you get more: a 5k and a 30 minute meditation before enjoying some post-triathlon snacks. Or, consider yoga events where post-class mimosas are provided and make it a girls day. For example, this one coming up at the top of the Hancock Building.
Nobody wants to be in savasana thinking about the cost per minute of a yoga class (…I’ve been there, and it’s not very zen). It IS possible to create a schedule around free and cheap yoga: don’t let your wallet stop your flow!
How about you? Any tips YOU have for the budgeting Bad Yogi?