I can remember taking one of my first yoga classes at Rodney Yee’s Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, CA in 1998.
I paid the $12 cost for class in cash (imagine, that was a lot for me then!
), and put it in the woven basket on the counter on my way out the door along with everyone else.
Rodney likely chose this business model in imitation of his mentor, Donald Moyer.
Moyer’s Iyengar studio, The Yoga Room, not far away in Berkeley still collected payment in a small metal box in 2012, the last time I visited.
Maybe it was a California thing, this co-op/community/yoga collective way of running a business, because even Sandy Blaine, a senior teacher and studio owner of Yoga on High in Alameda from 1995 to 2013 chose this cooperative model, where each teacher collected the fees from their students, kept the amount for herself, and paid an hourly fee for space rental or a monthly portion of the shared lease.
This was how teachers and studios sustained themselves, and how yoga teachers made a decent living for a long time in some parts of the country.
Fast forward to 2015: cities as small as Oakland and as large as New York boast a range of yoga studio models from boutique luxury studios, to large, corporate run yoga studio conglomerates that charge hefty-fees for membership in these exclusive spa-like environs.
In New York, going, going, almost gone are the days of “yoga for the people” which grew organically out of the progressive, hippy-dippy California soil starting in the 60s.
As yoga has grown more popular and appealing for entrepreneurial-types wanting to cash in on the American yoga frenzy taking place, in order to distinguish themselves from the variety of studio options found in major West and East coast cities, yoga is potentially morphing into a past-time solely for those of a certain class.
This competitive new trait of emergent yoga business culture has now garnered the attention of the federal government.
Specifically, the federal government has ascertained that they have been missing out on cashing in on a ton o’yoga bucks.