Fair Trade: Yoga Private Session Fees

If you wish to deepen your practice and book a private session through a yoga studio, I strongly advise you to inquire into the breakdown of the fees that you’re paying. How much of this will your teacher earn? Studios’ handling of fees vary widely. Some are more fair than others, but rarely will your teacher take home a decent share.

One studio takes a 25% cut of the private session fee, which is set by the teacher. While not an ideal arrangement, it’s not so terrible compared with another studio who only gives the teacher 50% of the private session fee established by the studio itself. That’s $50 out of a one-time $100 fee, or even less if the client purchases a 2- or 4-session package. This means that, for devoting one hour of total attention to your unique yoga and meditation needs, the teacher is earning less than she would in a group class. All that the studio has done for their 50% share was provide the space and linked you with the teacher. Would you consider this a fair trade?

Despite the yogic concept of non-competition, we live in a capitalist world in which studios strive to keep their doors open to provide you with superior quality classes. A vital component of studios are the yoga teachers, who invested a large chunk of time, money, and energy into studying for certification and continuing education. Most full-time yoga teachers struggle to put food on the table and maintain a roof over their head. The big name yoga masters are but a scant minority within this group. The majority of full-time yoga teachers remain in this vocation out of passion to serve as guides to help you to deepen your practice in your quest to heal, strengthen, and find your inner peace.

In ancient times, servants were compensated with food, clothing, and lodging. With the advent of commerce, trade, and capitalism, a service was paid for with money.  Frequently associated with greed and in direct conflict with the yogic concept of non-greed (aparigraha), money should not be viewed negatively, but as a necessity in order to survive in our world. Money helps yoga teachers obtain food, clothing, and a roof over their head in exchange for providing you with powerful techniques to improve your life on physical, mental and emotional levels. money-doesnt-grow-on-tree-pose1

A couple of years ago, one client was meeting with me at the studio that took a 25% cut from my private yoga session fee, which I had reduced to accommodate his financial situation. As we got to know each other better and his fiancée wanted to join him for private yoga sessions, the venue changed to their apartment – and, thankfully, my revenue improved. They appreciated my willingness to reduce my fee so he could receive yoga lessons to manage his chronic ailment, and I was grateful for their decision to change the location in order to compensate me more appropriately.

If you arrange for private yoga sessions with the teacher, independently of the studio, you will guarantee that the teacher will be able to earn the amount that her services are truly worth, in exchange for guiding you through a safe and beneficial practice. Think “fair trade.” Inquire into the studio’s compensation to the teacher for your private yoga session. If your studio won’t pay the teacher at least $80 per one-hour session, forego the middleman and contact your teacher directly. Please consider having your private sessions at home or in a neutral space, such as the home of a mutual friend or an office gym.

Please continue to support your yoga studio by attending classes and workshops. And please consider giving your favorite yoga teachers a tip this holiday season.

Wishing you all a blessed, peaceful, and joyous holiday season!

© 2013 Amy Dara Hochberg. Image captured on 17 December 2013 from http://theyogahub.ie/index.php/timetable/money-doesnt-grow-on-tree-pose-2/ All rights reserved.
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