Is anyone else disturbed by how expensive yoga classes are?! Studio Memberships are well over $100/month and even a single class is anywhere between $15-$30. I’m sorry but that’s a whole lotta moolah. And while yoga is supposed to be all love and light, you better be prepared to pay for it!
Long before I was a Yoga teacher, I needed to find ways to sustain my Yoga practice on a budget. Not only couldn’t I afford $100/mo memberships, but I also fundamentally didn’t agree with it. So, for years I searched for the highest quality alternatives to joining a Yoga studio. I still wanted to practice with well-known teachers and receive top-notice instruction on alignment, contradictions, and safe transitions.
After years and years of trial and error I have identified 6 of the best ways to do Yoga on a regular woman’s budget!
Stream Online Yoga Videos
Have you ever wanted to practice with the top yoga instructors in the industry? Well you can with Gaia. I became a member of Gaia many years ago because I wanted to practice with the best but didn’t want to dip into my 401k. Top teachers such as Janet Stone, Shiva Rea, Kino MacGregor, Ashley Sergeant Clara Roberts Oss, Faith Hunter, Ashley Turner, and Guru Jagat all have classes on there. And that’s just to name a few.
Most classes are paired with nice music and have a mixture of live teaching and voice overs. You can choose what type of yoga you’d like to do for that day and what level. Suffice to say I’ve been using Gaia for years and have yet to reach even a fraction of their videos. And the best part is, it’s $11.99/mo.
Some of the videos are pretty outdated. Yes this is simply an ascetics preference, the teaching is still good quality, but it’s not as appealing to look at. My other huge complaint with Gaia is the constant video buffering I’ve experienced. I’ve lost my temper many times when the video freezes in the middle of an epic Savasana session (yes, I’m quite the “zen” Yogi). There are too many nuances that Gaia recommends for how to make the videos play seamlessly, and even then, the buffering continues.
OneOeight was started by Rachel Brathen, a truly inspiring and legendary Yoga guru. There is none of the typical yoga pretentiousness found in this woman. And her very own yoga channel is perfection.
It has none of the buffering issues of Gaia and many of the same well renowned yoga teachers. Admittedly, many of the teachers on her channel are much newer and younger. They bring fresh sequences and a different flavor to the Yoga world, in a good way. For example Jen Pastiloff has a video titled “You are enough.” The meditation takes you far beyond asanas into a world of deep healing and self-acceptance.
There are many more categories to choose from on this platform such as meditation, coaching, healing and astrology.
OneOeight costs a little more than Gaia at $15/mo. But in comparison to practicing in a studio, this a real steal. There is also no music in the background which is neither good or bad, but it is a little different from a lot of practices and takes a little to get used to. All the teaching is live and many have students to follow along with showcasing different levels and modifications. Again this is great to see real people doing yoga, oftentimes struggling! But it can also be distracting.
Rachel offers a 10 day free trial so sign up! See how you like it and then cancel at any time if you change your mind.
Free YouTube Yoga Videos
The sheer number of freeyoga videos on YouTube is pretty staggering. Yoga teachers and aspiring Yogis alike selflessly guide you back to peace and calm. Or even strength and flexibility, if that’s more your thing. That’s the great thing about YouTube, you’ll probably find a niche for anything you’re looking for.
My favorite videos on YouTube are from Yoga by Candace and The Journey Junkie. These 2 ladies know what they’re doing. They’re both certified yoga teachers with very successful careers and blogs.
Update – both Yoga by Candace and The Journey Junkie now have apps that you can purchase for even more specialized content. I would highly recommend checking out their teaching styles on YouTube and then signing up for their apps to get access to high quality videos and teachings.
A major con of YouTube videos is that unlike Yoga by Candace and The Journey Junkie, the quality of some the teaching is questionable since instructors are not required to be certified. Literally anyone can upload a video. And that’s a scary thought since there are real safety risks associated with teaching Asana incorrectly. So do your research, and as always, be mindful of your body!
Free Yoga Sequence Templates
After you have a couple of years under your belt, you might want to venture offline and start following sequences built by others. Jason Crandell freely offers a variety of sequences on his website like “Winning in Warrior III” or “Learn to Love Camel Pose.”
This is a really great option because it allows you to completely tune into your body since you’re going at your own pace. Oftentimes we are tempted to keep up with a teacher’s speed, which might be faster than we’re ready for. Soon this can lead to losing touch with the breath which is the 1st indicator that we’re not listening to our body. This can lead to some pretty nasty injuries.
I like to print off a Jason Crandell sequence, take some time to review it and then I’m off! At any time, I can refer back to the sequence if I forget the order of the Asanas, but I leave room for play and creativity as well.
Transitioning to doing Yoga semi on your own can be anxiety provoking and involves actually remembering the sequence. And that’s not very relaxing at times! It does feel awkward at 1st to not follow a teacher and to trust that you have enough experience at this point to improvise if needed. But it’s a great way to start building your confidence as a Yogi.
Donation based or free Yoga classes
There are many Yoga studios trying to do their part to make yoga accessible to all, not just the wealthy. Non-profit yoga studios like the one I used teach at is a donation based studio that won’t turn anyone away due to finances. When I 1st started going there, some weeks I could pay $20 and some weeks I couldn’t even afford a $1 donation. There was zero ounce of judgement or acknowledgment of how much money I brought.
Another trend is traditional Yoga Studios offering free or donation-based classes throughout the year, especially on holidays and in the summer. My recommendation is to follow several studios on social media so that you can spot free events, such as Yoga in the park.
Some free or donation based yoga classes are held on a regular basis, but not all. Oftetimes they are offered seasonally or during special events. So it can be difficult to build out a consistent schedule based on these classes.
Yoga Classes at the Gym
If you already have a membership at a local gym, most have group exercise classes included in the membership. Most of the teachers who work at these gyms also work at the local studios. So, you’re really getting the best of both worlds: experienced/certified yoga teachers at a reasonable price.
Many of these classes include an eclectic collection of serious Yogis and newbies. This mix of people can be refreshing since my beloved hard core Yogis can get a little intense! “Non-Yogis” help remind us super serious practitioners to relax. And enjoy.
The gym environment can leave a little to be desired. It tends to not be as quiet or as “zen” as you’d hope. There is little natural light and incense will not be burning in the background. Weights clinking and bros grunting, will be background noise. The classes are often tailored to a more gym environment, ie less hippy!
Also, classes at gyms oftentimes don’t have foundational Yoga practices such as meditation, pranayama, or 20 minute Savasanas.
Start a Home Yoga Practice
I’ve saved the best for last…..doing yoga 100% on your own! Stepping on that mat, taking a deep breath, and moving however your body wants. There is nothing more magical. Scary, but magical.
And please believe me when I say that you know more than you think. You know the poses. You know the Pranayama. And most importantly, only you know what you need that day. If you follow a teacher, you are doing what they want to do that day which might not line up with your needs.
Self-practice might not be an everyday thing. But its great for days when you don’t have the energy to go and hunt for a great video. Or days where you’re too stressed or depressed to move much.
Those are perfect days to go exploring on your own. Maybe you will do a couple stretches and lie in Savasana for 20 minutes. Maybe you will surprise yourself and go way harder and longer than expected because it feels so damn good! Either way you’re going at your own pace, following the needs of your body, and entering that long sought after benefit of yoga: Connection to Self.
It is admittedly easy to stay inside your head when you’re the captain of your Yoga ship. Thoughts of insecurity, body shaming and worry have the tendency to take over. It’s the perfect time to not only practice asanas, but to practice staying with the breath to achieve the true purpose of Yoga – Chitta Vritti Nirodhah >calming the fluctuations of the mind.
Super surprising right? So apparently the goal of Yoga is not a better body or correct alignment. The goal is to help us with our minds. Yoga helps us control the negative thinking that steals inner peace and wreaks havoc on our nervous system.
All of these 6 free or budget friendly ways to practice Yoga are high quality and super effective. All will help you grow as a Yogi and teach you the fundamentals. However, I do encourage periodically in-person Yoga class for two reasons.
One – community is hard to find these days, so gathering with like-minded Yogis to collectively practice is super powerful. It’s too easy to isolate, especially if you’re shy or going through a painful experience.
Two – alignment mistakes are hard to catch by yourself. So joining a studio where teachers are trained in detailed verbal cueing and consent-based physical alignment can be helpful.
But the rest of the time, any of the methods above lay out a clear course for our own version of Yogic love and light 🤍☀️