The age old question is always how much should yoga teachers charge for their classes. The prices can range from free to excess of $20 for a single group class.
The truth of the matter is that each teacher should charge based upon their qualifications as well as other factors, such as market value for a class. However, most yoga teachers, at least initially find it quite difficult to charge for a class. Even when teachers do charge for a class, some have trouble asking students to make their payments.
This article is going to explore the Vedic principle of Guru Dakshina and why yoga teachers should charge for their classes. Furthermore, I will elaborate on the principle of seva and how that applies to Guru Dakshina.
First of all, Guru Dakshina is Sanskrit for “Payment to Teacher.” In Vedic culture, the act of charging your students officially creates the student-teacher relationship. The one thing that teachers should consider not doing is teach for free on a regular basis. There is a difference between doing seva, which is selflessly helping others, and teaching to make a living.
In the Vedic culture, the student-teacher relationship is known as Guru Shishya. Guru means "teacher" and shishya means "disciple" or "student." As a yoga teacher, your students look up to you to share your knowledge and experience with them. This comes at a cost. The true value of a class can only be attached if there is a monetary association with it, at least in today’s world where money seems to guide the way.
Think about how much you invested into your teacher training course. It is highly unlikely that you took your minimum 200 hour course for free. Rather, you went deep into your pockets and paid your yoga teacher to train you to teach others. This means that you have formed the guru shishya relationship with your own teacher.
Now that you are qualified to teach yoga, your students deserve to have the same relationship with you as you are their guru and they are your shishyas. Without payment, your students would not be considered to be a true disciple or student of yours in Vedic terms.
Read: The Guru's Grace
The Importance of Guru Dakshina
For many yoga teachers it is often difficult for them to charge for their classes as throughout teaching training we are taught about seva, meaning selflessly helping others, and making yoga accessible to everyone. However, it can be the payment to the teacher that solidifies the relationship and creates loyalty.
Guru dakshina was not always about monetary payment. In the Vedic times, payment could have consisted of anything from food and goods, to gold or silver. Without a value associated with a goods or service, it had little to no meaning.
As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Even if it is a nominal fee, when students pay, they are ready to learn. Keep in mind that you paid for Yoga Teacher Training and as an adult, you have responsibilities, such as bills to pay and food to buy. Some teachers also have mortgages and children to look after.
Allow your students to pay you to share your knowledge and experience. What you have to offer your students goes beyond teacher training as you are constantly growing your own practice and educating yourself on yoga philosophy and new asanas as well as sequences. When you ask your students to pay you, they are also paying for the preparatory work you do for the class.
It may be difficult to set a price for your yoga classes, but remember that you are providing a value and a service to your students. Although yoga is a magnificent practice that helps many of people, that does not mean that a teacher has to give away their services for free. At the end of the day, set a price for your classes that you are happy with.
When doing seva and looking at ways to outreach, get creative. Perhaps run once a month meditation class or a one off introductory to yoga workshop, which would include both philosophy and asanas. Make them taster courses that provide an introduction to yoga.
If during trying times, you want to help more, you're welcome to do free online classes on social media, but don't feel forced to. We all handle difficult periods differently. Remember to take care of yourself first, or you won't be able to help your students.
As a yogi, you are aware of the importance of self-care. Only when you take care of yourself can you help others. When you become a yoga teacher, you are in business now.
Keep this in mind the next time you are struggling to charge to teach a class. There is nothing wrong with getting paid to do your job, even though it may not feel like work to you. Charge a reasonable price and see your classes grow. Slowly but surely, you will create a strong and loyal follower base.
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