Human nature is a strange thing. We live in this capitalist reality, where people buy things they don’t need in bulk just because it’s cheaper and pay huge corporations for services that don’t require much effort from said corporations. Yet when it comes to paying a self-employed professional, these same people try and knock the price down, truly believing they deserve to pay less than everyone else. I see this as a self-employed yoga teacher, but it’s all around us – people trying to entice artists with “exposure”, and get their photographer friends to shoot their weddings for free.
Listen. The prices are what they are for a reason. For every hour that I’m teaching yoga, there’s hours and hours of personal and professional practice that contribute to my experience. Teacher training doesn’t stop when you graduate a YTT course. Most of these courses are only 200 hours. Do you really think it is possible to learn the intricacies of human anatomy in that time, or learn all the asana variations and transitions? Do you think you can learn enough about the history of yoga, and understand its philosophy in depth? Yoga Teacher Training should give you the skills to start teaching, but it doesn’t mean you stop there. There is a real need for ongoing development – reading relevant literature, following recent developments in the yoga world and science of movement, attending CBD workshops, learning from fellow teachers, working on personal practice. Teaching is an art in itself – even when you have the theory nailed down, learning to teach is a process. It takes time to find your style, your pace, your language. You could have two yoga teachers covering the same set of asanas, but depending on their sequencing, their approach to the practice, what they choose to bring focus to, you are likely to have two very different sessions. It takes time to get there, and even once a yoga teacher finds their element, it still takes a chunk of their time to plan a lesson, or a course, or a workshop. There is usually a cost implication to the equipment that’s being used. Yes, when I teach at a studio, I’m likely to have mats and props readily available, but if I’m simply renting a space for my class or teaching a private session, I need to buy props, music speakers, appropriate lighting etc.
Then there’s a matter of travel, which usually costs money, and even if the gig is a walking or cycling distance away, it still takes time. And let’s not forget the admin of it all. Most yoga teachers I know have to advertise their classes, update their website and social media pages, send out invoices and do their own taxes.
This doesn’t just apply to yoga teachers of course. Artists have to account for their time and materials in the same way as the people who fix your roof or lay your floors. Designers have to pay for their preferred software, tattoo artists give a share of their money to the studio, caterers need a large variety of equipment, musical instruments don’t pay for themselves. And we all have bills to pay.
So please, next time you decide to argue over price with self-employed professionals, don’t. If said professional wants to offer you a discount, they will. There are often special offers, raffles, competitions and promotions going on, brought forward by the person who knows how low they can afford for the price to be. And yes, that means you won’t always be able to afford to get another tattoo or book a band for your wedding, but most of these things are luxuries anyway.