Some of the very first classes I took were offered on a donation basis, back in the early 90’s. My teacher, Perry, conducted classes out of the Vet’s Hall. There were no mats, we did the class on the carpet and needed to be out of there before 6:30, to make space for the ensuing twelve-step meeting. He just put out a little basket, took a step back and let go. Swaha!
Our Teacher training is modeled after the same idea though I haven’t completely let go as much as Perry did; there is a minimum level of contribution ($1,200). I think this gives the students something to reference, ensures some level of commitment, is generous, encourages diversity and is sustainable. Everybody wins.
I ask prospective students to reflect on the value they will receive, their means and their willingness to reciprocate when deciding what they are willing to contribute. Most choose to give beyond the minimum amount and, we have had students for whom money was not a viable option. Many of these students we accommodated in the form of trading for child care. From a parenting perspective, having a yogi student watching the kids was an ideal arrangement.
Running a contribution-based training was something of a revelation and stemmed, in part, out of my study of classical yoga. There is a long history of selfless service and charity in the yoga tradition and I wanted to align myself with those forces as much as possible.
I have been a student of yoga since 1991 and gradually the practice has shaped and influenced the character of my life –including my livelihood. The donation based concept is a reflection of that evolution. I feel blessed to practice yoga in this way.