Free yoga centers or those that are donation-based help many people continue to maintain good health even in times of economic hardship. Studios, instructors, and organizations that promote a free practice also stay true to the basic tenants of yoga philosophy that yoga is for everyone.
Etiquette of Free Yoga
Not many yoga studios are completely free. Most operate on a donation or a "pay what you wish" system. Here are some general guidelines for attending a free or donation-based class:
- If you appreciate the instruction received in a free class and have the means to pay a little, donations are always appreciated to apply to the general upkeep of the facility or help offset the costs of other special programs, such as those that cater to underserved youth.
- Most free centers will let you attend class as often as you like. But, if there's a waiting list, consider reducing your attendance to open up a space for someone else.
- If you attend a donation-based class, try to be as generous as possible. Individual class prices at fee-based studios usually range from $10-$25, depending on the style and instructor, so use that range as a guide for your donation each session.
- Some studios have a work-exchange program that allows people to take yoga classes for free and contribute to the upkeep of the facility in other ways.
- Even if you can't afford fees on a regular basis, you may have to invest in yoga equipment such as mats and blocks to bring to class.
Finding Free Yoga Centers
Larger metropolitan areas are more likely to have free yoga centers than smaller communities. Often free centers are affiliated with other organizations and the yoga classes aren't the main profit source. Free centers may have a limited class schedule or not much style variety, but if you're in need, these locations are worth a try.
Here are a few options for free or donation-based yoga centers in the U.S.
- Yoga to the People - This organization has one location in New York City and two in the San Francisco Bay area. The suggested donation at all three yoga centers is $10, but the studios stress that if you can't pay that, simply pay what you can.
- Yoga Fun in NYC - A popular option in New York City because of the $5 single-session fee; not quite free, but close. Additionally, the center offers free yoga in parks around the Big Apple in the summer.
- Hosh Yoga - Also in New York City, you can get free classes by participating in their work study program.
Many other studios offer free community or Karma classes. These classes are often once a week and open to the public. Another unconventional free yoga center is the retailer Lululemon Athletica, which specializes in yoga apparel. All store locations host complimentary yoga classes each week.
Other Opportunities for Free Yoga
In addition to frequenting free yoga centers, keep in mind that numerous studios allow a new student to try the first class at no charge. This is advantageous when comparing studios and styles, or when you move to a different location. Most studios post free class or workshop opportunities on their websites, but don't hesitate to call and ask about special promotions.
Watch for free public yoga events in your community. For example, in Des Moines, Iowa, the city's parks and recreation department holds a free yoga class in a downtown park every Saturday morning June through August. Different yoga instructors from the community donate their time to lead sessions. Attendees have to bring their yoga equipment and sign a liability waiver. Austin, Texas offered a similar program in April, 2010 called Yoga Yoga in the Park, during which teachers from the studio Yoga Yoga hosted free outdoor classes over the lunch hour.
At press time of April, 2010, a release was issued promoting September as National Yoga Month in the U.S. In September, 2010, there will be more than 2,000 free yoga classes and events around the country. Bookmark the website National Yoga Month to stay up-to-date on happenings in your area.