To Pay or Not to Pay for Yoga During the Coronavirus Shutdown

You roll out your yoga mat in your living room, open your laptop, and Zoom into a yoga class with 20 unfamiliar faces sitting in Easy Pose. At the start of the session, the teacher asks the students in the Zoom room to share their intentions and hopes for the future, which are uncertain for many. At the end of class, the teacher humbly asks for donations via Venmo. You shrink inside, knowing your level of gratitude for the day’s practice won’t quite match your monetary offering.


With studios shuttered and classes transitioning to digital, yoga teachers are simultaneously trying to keep students engaged while earning an income. They’ve taken their offerings to live streaming platforms, from Instagram to Zoom, but now find themselves struggling to figure out if and how much they should charge. This is our new normal, even if only temporary.

“This is an intense and unique time for so many of us,” says Anita Akhavan, the executive director at Off the Mat, Into the World, a nonprofit that offers digital and in-person training sessions and workshops through a yoga and social justice lens. “The opportunity to move onto an online platform for many instructors is a saving grace, however it’s also a brand-new endeavor and becoming quite overwhelming. There is nothing that can compete with an in-person experience, but right now we have to try,” she added. In this new world comes uncharted ethics, business, and equity considerations, including when to charge and when to pay for yoga, and how to navigate contract negotiations when you now teach online.

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