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Yoga instructors, dance instructors, and instructors of many different types of practice arts (meditation, pilates, martial arts, etc.) have approached us here at Santa Monica Power Yoga studio about wanting to provide their classes on a donation-basis. (We currently have a pilates class on our schedule.) To give more interested folks a feeling for what it means, we would like to provide you this article, intended mostly for those instructors who are thinking about teaching a donation-basis class.
First of all, it is a very powerful experience for all who participate in a donation-basis class. The student partakes in the instructor’s gift of teaching something that the instructor holds near and dear to the heart. The student as well is usually coming with heart wide open (instead of wallet wide open), and receives the gift without any upfront expectations about a fixed dollar amount transaction. The main question at hand is whether the student is interested enough to make it to the studio and really get something out of the class. In this way, the studio is a little bit of relief from our commerce driven economy, providing a setting for an exchange between instructor and student without the payment of fees being the primary consideration.
It goes without saying that it is a rare opportunity for the factors to come together for a donation-basis setting. At Santa Monica Power Yoga, we feel blessed to also have a beautiful studio, a sacred space in which teachers and students can engage in this way. It helps to have a physical studio that is respectful and supportive of the donation-based exchange.
Quote from Bryan Kest:
“I have been instructing yoga classes on donation-basis for over eighteen years and have learned some things…Firstly, this studio is set up not only so students can flourish, but also so instructors can flourish.”
Here is how we handle some of the practical matters behind Santa Monica Power Yoga.
The instructor pays a fixed fee per time slot. Generally, each time slot is about 1½ hours. It has been derived from the following financial responsibilities that we have: 1) our rent to the landlord; 2) maintenance, utilities and taxes; 3) loans that we took out of the bank. All of these items will be paid from the total amount collected from instructors.
We mentioned above that we have a supportive physical environment. To that end, we provide the following amenities: a beautiful, clean spacious yoga room two blocks away from the ocean air; clean, spacious bathrooms; and built-in stereo system. Instructors are free to use the regular time slots for anything they would like to teach within reasonable usage and general studio guidelines (like shoes off in the practice rooms). The classes are scheduled with a 30-minute separation between them (for the most part). Plus, there is a lovely courtyard outside where students can wait.
If you are a teacher who does not have a following, there is a chance that you will initially lose money until your following builds. If it does not build, it will probably be too expensive to continue over a long period of time, and you will move on. Your success will depend solely on your talents as an instructor (and the inspired generosity of your students).
Quote from Bryan Kest:
“I personally have watched some instructors unsuccessful in building a following, and I’ve watched some instructors start from scratch and build tremendous success. ‘From scratch’ means no following of students and now they are very prosperous, although they needed inner strength and perseverance through the initial period. Moreover, I’ve seen instructors build classes in what were considered so-called less appealing time slots.”
Other monetary necessities for the instructor: 1) first month and last month fee deposit up front; 2) an annual Administrative Fee per timeslot, which helps pay for the instructor’s share of any graphic design, paper and printing cost for schedules, studio promotion, as well as maintenance costs pertaining to the section of the Website devoted to the studio and promotion of the instructor (biography, contact info, etc.) and his or her classes, SMPY Studio facilities maintenance, repairs and clean up services, the portion of general building maintenance that is charged to the studio pursuant to its master lease agreement, as well as other administrative costs; and 3) key deposit. Really we function as a co-op of instructors, all contributing to the success of the studio. Nobody is profiting from this money.
Another Bryan Kest quote, which he writes to each and every one of our instructors:
“Besides the opportunity of individual prosperity, it is so interesting to be part of and watch the dynamic potential of a storefront, donation-basis yoga center and its effects on the yoga community and general community. This approach continues to take a combination of courage and trust! You have my respect and gratitude.
With our efforts, we will show others the potential of a donation-basis yoga center, which can lead to yoga classes (and classes of all kinds of art forms) being more and more accessible to all. With this type of center, in our little way, we contribute to our planet’s conscious evolution.