Making the Switch to a Donation Yoga Studio
written by Melissa Joy Cameron, CSY Owner
As I entered my 11th year teaching yoga in 2016, I began to discover more about why I just couldn’t stop teaching. When I decided to open Cherry Street Yoga in the spring of 2016, I was so excited to have another adventure to focus my yoga efforts on. After hosting the I AM Yoga Festival for 6 years and teaching classes in several locations in Tulsa, I was ready to put all of my energy into making Cherry Street Yoga the best I could. With a very small budget to get started, I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work. Throughout the process of opening the doors, I kept feeling a pull inside of me to look into the idea of becoming a donation yoga studio. Just a few years before this, I had opened another yoga studio in Tulsa and had explored the idea of making that one also donation based. At the time, I was afraid there weren’t enough people that did yoga to support it and it just wasn’t the right time.
So from April 2016 – October 2016, we opened with the traditional model of yoga including $15 drop-ins and $125/month memberships. We had a few people coming and I figured it was only a matter of time. Our building was beautiful and our staff was outstanding and I was teaching 19 classes per week so I was certainly invested. As I was teaching all of these classes, I kept having the same insight come to me… This voice inside of me wouldn’t stop saying…
I really, truly believe yoga is for all of us.
100% of people who want to try yoga should have access to it.
Although I know there are many teachers, students and yoga fans who are working hard to help others understand the benefits of a yoga practice, I just couldn’t sit there and keep charging $15 per class. Now let me add to this story that I have no problem with someone charging $15 per person for a yoga class. That is a fair price and justified completely in every way. There is a need for that on many levels. This isn’t a post about how we are right and others are wrong. This is an explanation about the truth of where and why we decided to shift to donation drop-ins and how that can co-exist in harmony with all of the paths to sharing yoga.
So I talked to some of the staff of Cherry Street Yoga and they wholeheartedly agreed that we should give it a shot. Now, I am a single mother of four sons and my work is my livelihood. Taking this chance felt even riskier for me. Because if this fails, we could become homeless and hungry. But there was this nudge. This push to believe that people could walk into a business and decide for themselves how to pay for their yoga class.
Let me just say this…Offering yoga on a donation basis was the best decision I have ever made.
Watching people stand in their own generosity and decide to give from their hearts is one of the best gifts I have received in exchange for sharing yoga. Turns out, human beings are a generous species in general. Not just those who attend the class, but also the teachers who show up and share their yoga. You see, we all get to decide how we spend our time and how we place value on an experience. At Cherry Street Yoga, we are in a unique position to allow people to make the decision for themselves in exchange for providing something we believe makes the world a better place to live. Doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.
I remain hopeful in the spirit of giving, receiving and exchanging yoga.