Some yoga teachers are disturbed by doubt and guilt about whether it is alright for them to be able to make a living from teaching yoga by giving yoga classes or courses, as some ‘good’ people who are directly or indirectly involve in the world of yoga insist that there should be no fees charged, or there should be very minimal fees charged for giving yoga classes, as teaching yoga should be a selfless service or charity work, and most important is that part of the yoga practice is about perform selfless actions, and not expect anything in return. Even if there are fees charged (small or big amount), then all the profits from running yoga classes and courses should be given away for charity cause. They ‘expect’ yoga teachers should live on charity and begging, or they should have some other forms of livelihood or income (but not from teaching yoga by giving yoga classes) to support their life and living expenses. Or else it is wrong, or it’s a great sin, or bad karma to make a living from teaching yoga.
Not to say, there are many ‘yoga’ enthusiasts (who come from different backgrounds with different social or financial status) who are interested to take up yoga classes or yoga courses who actually think and believe that all yoga classes and yoga courses should be free, and they are reluctant to pay some fees, or only want to pay a little amount of fees that they think is sufficient to cover the cost for the yoga classes or courses, and they think yoga teachers should not make any profits or make a living from running yoga classes or courses. And they think and believe that all yoga teachers should be the role models for others to live a simple life with limited livelihood. And so, they believe yoga teachers don’t really need much money to live life, nor have any living expenses. And hence, they think yoga teachers don’t need to take any fees from teaching yoga.
There’s nothing wrong with those thinking and beliefs, coming from these people’s particular worldly point of view. Everyone is free to express what they think and believe, to criticize and to condemn other people whom they dislike and disagree with. But those who truly know what is yoga, they are aware of all the different points of views, but they will not criticize nor condemn anyone. If it is the truth, there’s nothing to be criticized about. If it is not the truth, it’s pointless to criticize someone who is being ignorant of ignorance in oneself.
Here are a few points to let anyone who directly or indirectly relates to this matter to reflect upon this matter and measure it by themselves.
Before we get into these information given below, take note that yoga practice is not limited in a yoga class or yoga course in a particular name and form, or at a particular time and space. Yoga and the practice of yoga is unlimited by names and forms, time and space. It exists everywhere and anytime. Everything and everyone can be teaching us yoga to realize the truth, it’s not necessarily has to be a human being who is graduated from yoga teachers training course and bears the title of ‘yoga teacher’, and is ‘certified’ and ‘qualified’ to teach yoga to others.
1.) Most people who identify themselves as ‘yoga teachers’ in the world nowadays are not really teaching yoga, but they are fitness instructors who teach yoga asana exercise classes under many different styles, names and forms. And so, they are not limited by the above ‘observations’ at all. They can charge fees as high as they like, depending on their cost for conducting classes and their ‘qualifications’, ‘teaching experience’, ‘competency’, ‘unique teaching skills and flair’, ‘creativity’, and of course, ‘popularity’ and ‘demand’. It’s a legal and healthy livelihood. It’s a very meaningful job that can enhance ones physical and mental health and fitness, as well as to encourage many others to have a healthier and active lifestyle by igniting great enthusiasm in these people to do some yoga asana exercises regularly.
They deserve to make enough money to pay back their cost to acquire the knowledge of the yoga asana exercises and learning the teaching skill and technique, and to attain various certificates and qualifications recognized by such and such international yoga affiliations to qualified them to teach yoga asana exercise classes to the public by continuously attending ‘yoga courses’ and ‘yoga workshops’ regularly to maintain and upgrade their professionalism in teaching yoga asana exercise classes, to ensure safe and effective yoga asana exercises, as well as fun and enjoyable innovative yoga asana exercise classes to be delivered to their students or clients. They are constantly being judged and evaluated by the clients as well as the employer, and they are either unwillingly or willingly being in competition with the other yoga fitness instructors.
On top of that they need to be able to make enough income to support their everyday life expenses on food, living space, transportation, holidays, entertainments, social activities, continuing education and learning, and for some people, they might even need to support their family, or helping out relatives and friends financially. And they also need to have some extra money to allow them to perform charity, or to be able to participate in some forms of volunteering works to contribute to the society once in a while.
There’s nothing wrong, or sinful, or bad karma in this at all.
No one can criticize or condemn them for anything as they are not teaching yoga.
2.) Yoga, the teachings of yoga, the yoga practice and Dharma are not for sale. It is not a trading object that can be exchanged or trade in for something else. It is not possible to make ‘yoga’ into a worldly business and make profit out of it. No one owns yoga, nor has authority over yoga, but it exists in all and everyone waiting to be realized. ‘Yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ are something different. They can be made into a business to make some profits out of it, whether we think it’s okay, or it’s not okay. And those who really teach yoga don’t identify themselves with any names and forms. Neither they will call themselves ‘yoga teachers’. There are no yoga teachers. They are just instruments for performing the actions of transmitting the teachings of yoga to others.
3.) What’s the difference between fees and donations? It doesn’t matter they are in the form of money or in some other exchangeable forms, it is something that we show gratitude to somebody who gives us, or shares with us something that is invaluable which cannot be bought with money, whether the receivers are selfless and don’t expect anything in return, or they are not selfless and they expect something in return. Why is it if it’s ‘fees’, it is ‘not okay’, but if it’s ‘donations’, it is ‘okay’? Is it that if we think yoga teachers are supposed to be selfless beings, that they should be performing selfless service, and they shouldn’t expect or receive anything in return, and that allows us to take them for granted?
4.) Many of those who think and believe that yoga teachers should live in poverty and live on charity or begging, are not necessarily that they can’t afford to pay the fees or donations, but they are being stingy and just want to have ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ yoga exercise classes. So that they can keep their money for other expenses to support their social activities and life enjoyments. They think the yoga teacher doesn’t deserve more than what they think they want to ‘pay’. What are these people with such mentality learning and practicing when they claim themselves as yoga enthusiasts who love yoga (or yoga exercises more precisely) very much and want to learn yoga under a teacher, but they don’t respect the teacher or know how to appreciate the invaluable yoga teachings and practice at all?
Humility and respect oneself and others are the basis of yoga practice. We need to learn how to be free from arrogance, defensiveness and offensiveness, to respect all without discrimination of personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on what our minds believe how things should be like, not to say to show humility and respect towards someone who teaches and guides us about the teachings and practice of yoga.
Those who are truly humble and sincere to learn yoga from a teacher will naturally want to contribute and support the living of the teacher. Even when the teacher doesn’t expect or doesn’t want to be respected or served by the students, they will respect and serve the teacher out of their own free will. The students will be performing selfless service to serve the teacher even after they have contribute something or support the living of the teacher. Nowadays, many people who say they want to learn yoga, they don’t know anything about this precious value of yoga – to eliminate egoism. The students complain and criticize about their teachers when they are not getting what they want, or are being dissatisfied about something that they don’t like or disagree with. They are not learning or practicing yoga at all. They expect the teacher to be in certain ways with certain professional image and behavior. They expect the teacher to give them something in return that they like and want, which they think it should worth the similar value of money that they have given to the teacher. They want the teacher to serve them or treat them with some sorts of customer service and gratifying their desires of craving and aversion, as they have given some fees or donations to the teacher.
5.) People who pay some fees for yoga classes or courses, may drop out half way of the course when it becomes quite challenging physically and mentally, or when they didn’t get what they expect to be getting from the yoga classes, even if they know that their money will be ‘wasted’. Not to say those who pay no fees or very little fees for yoga classes or courses, may easily drop out half way of the course when it becomes quite challenging physically and mentally, or when they didn’t get what they expect to be getting from the yoga classes, as they know they won’t be ‘wasting’ much money.
6.) When ‘real’ yoga teachers who teach yoga by giving yoga classes or courses at a specific time and place to allow people to come together to learn and practice yoga, they don’t sell us yoga or Dharma, or the realization of the truth, or liberation, or peace and compassion. They can’t. Even if they want to ‘sell’ us yoga or Dharma, or the realization of the truth, or liberation, or peace and compassion, we can’t ‘buy’ it and ‘have’ it, no matter how much money we have.
7.) The fees or donations (whether it is a fixed amount or ‘donate as you wish’) that the yoga teachers receive from those who participate (or not participate) in their classes or courses, are for the time, effort and costs to make the classes or courses available, to show their gratitude and support to the teachers and to Dharma by paying some fees or donate some donations to allow some other people to be able to come together at a particular time and place, to learn and practice yoga or Dharma. And everyone has to work very hard individually to attain their own realization and salvation, it doesn’t matter the amount of fees or donations is big or small.
It doesn’t mean that if the amount of fees or donations is big, they’ll get faster and more efficient results and greater achievements, and if the amount of fees or donations is smaller, they’ll get slower and less efficient results and smaller achievements. Or vice versa. And above all, yoga is not about the results or achievements, and it’s nothing to do with fees or donations.
8.) The fees or donations that we pay or donate to ‘real’ yoga teachers who teach yoga, not just some yoga asana exercise fitness classes, is also a form of charity act come from us to allow these yoga teachers (who allow the yoga classes to be available to us, and to share the great knowledge of yoga of how to be free from ignorance and suffering, to realize unconditional love and peace, it’s not just about doing some fitness exercise routines) to support their lives, and for them to have the time and space to perform their personal practice to attain higher realization, apart from giving their time to teach classes to others. They also need to have some sorts of livelihood to support themselves, their lives and all other necessary expenses to perform their duties and responsibilities towards themselves and towards those who depend on them in lives financially, physically or mentally.
9.) Why should yoga teachers (or more precisely, experienced yoga practitioners who teach yoga to others) live in poverty, be homeless, or to survive under poor and insufficient conditions, solely depend on begging or receiving ‘charity’ from other people, to prove that they practice ‘detachment’, or ‘non-attachment’, or ‘non-possessiveness’, or they are ‘super human beings’? What is the real meaning and practice of detachment, non-attachment and non-possessiveness? What does yoga or yoga practitioners has anything to do with ‘super human beings’? Even enlightened beings will also witness or go through the law of impermanence through the existence of the physical body and mind. Their bodies will decay, experiences changes, old age, illness, pain, discomforts, and eventually decomposition or death. There are constant thoughts arising and passing away in their mind. But they are not associated with, or be determined or disturbed by the ceaseless changes of names and forms.
10.) Should the yoga teachers who teach yoga be limited by the above ‘observations’, and be criticized and condemned by ‘certain people’ who think they know about yoga more than other people, and they think they have the authority on yoga and all that is related to yoga, to give them the superiority to condemn the yoga teachers who teach yoga, who are able to make a living and be financially independent from giving yoga classes or courses, and don’t need to spend the rest of their time and energy in a worldly job for livelihood, or don’t need to depend on charity or begging from others? Isn’t that a great thing for people (including those who teach yoga to others) to have a better quality of life with the right livelihood that will benefits oneself and others? While in another point of view, the yoga students are being given the opportunity to perform charity by supporting the livelihood of the yoga teachers by giving some fees or donations to the teachers.
11.) Why should ‘real’ yoga teachers who know what is yoga be bothered or determined by the criticism and condemn by these people? Those who have realized yoga, they have gone beyond egoism and worldly image, ideas and values.
12.) Even when ‘real’ yoga teachers give yoga classes or courses to teach yoga to others, whether with or without fees, it also cannot guarantee that all the students or clients will be satisfied, or will appreciate, or will be benefited from their teaching, or will be free from ignorance and suffering.
13.) Of course, there are also some ‘yoga teachers’ who do not really interested to teach yoga to others, nor do they care for the well-beings of anyone but themselves, as their main motive or objective to give ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga asana exercise classes’ is solely about getting some profits, to attain name and fame. But there’s also nothing to be criticized about, as some people maybe enjoying their classes very much and are benefited from attending their classes, even though they don’t have intention to benefit anyone at all. And these people see them as their greatest ‘Gurus’ and they are willingly to ‘donate’ part of or all their money to their ‘Gurus’.
14.) ‘Real’ yogis who know yoga, are not obliged to teach yoga to anyone. They don’t have to give yoga classes or courses to anyone even if there are ‘high profits’ in return, or even if we beg them to teach us. And if they do teach us yoga whether by giving yoga classes or courses, or not, and there’s profit in return, it doesn’t mean that they are not ‘real’ yogis, or they are ‘bad’ yogis. Some ‘spiritual’ people think and believe that ‘money is evil’, and so, yogis can only take food from begging and should not touch money, or receive money from anyone, or else they become evil.
Money is like everything else, it is neither evil nor good. Whether touching money, or not, it doesn’t make one a yogi or not, be free from ignorance, or not. Money is just pieces of commercial papers for the convenience of the worldly society to exchange goods and services while living in this materialistic commercial world. It depends on the purity of mind whether the money will be used wisely, or not. Don’t have any money or not using money also cannot guarantee that one is free from ignorance, egoism, greed and attachment. Having money or using money doesn’t determine that one is not free from ignorance, egoism, greed and attachment.
15.) Does by not taking any fees, or taking less money, or charging lower fees than other people, will make us better yogis or yoga teachers than the others who take some fees, or take more money, or charge higher fees?
16.) Who are we to judge or to condemn anyone, including judging and condemn ourselves, anyway?
17.) Why is it those who don’t really teach yoga cannot be condemned for not teaching yoga the way that we think it should be, as they are not teaching yoga at all, but those who truly teach yoga could be condemned for teaching yoga not the way that we think it should be? It doesn’t make sense in yoga. Though it totally makes sense for the ignorant and worldly minded ones.
18.) How does selflessness and selfless service be determined by getting something in return, or not? It’s about not attach to the actions and the fruit of actions. Undisturbed and undetermined by the fruit of actions to be peaceful, happy, confident, or meaningful, or not. Who says anything about not having anything in return? There will be something in return naturally whenever there are actions being performed, but it’s not necessarily the way that we think it should be or how we like it to be, and there’s no identification or attachment towards the actions or the fruit of actions to be who ‘I’ am. There is no ‘I’ existing to be the doer of actions. There is no ‘I’ existing to be the enjoyer of the fruit of actions, or to be receiving the fruit of actions. It doesn’t mean that after actions are being performed there is no fruit of actions in return. All actions including inactions, will bear the fruit of actions.
19.) Some might think that those who are using the information/teachings from the Scriptures to teach yoga to others, or those who have realized unconditional love and peace through their own self-realization and share the knowledge with others, or those who are using the yoga asana exercises to teach fitness exercise classes, and make a living out of it, is like ‘stealing’ something from ‘God’ and sell it to make profits.
Well, just like some scientists knew how to harvest the sunlight, the wind, the water to make use of them for mostly good reasons and generate electricity from them, and some people make some profits out of that, some people also get some livelihood out of it, while many people are benefited from it for the convenience coming from the availability of electricity in our modern lives.
Does that mean everyone who involve with harvesting the elements of fire, wind and water to generate electricity, working in the fields, and all the consumers of electricity are robbers and sinful?
While there might be people who think that since the resource is coming from ‘God’ or nature, it should be free, no one should make any profits from it, we shouldn’t pay anything for using the electricity?
‘God’ must be very proud of these Scientists to have such invention to utilize the resources from ‘God’ and turn them into something great and beneficial for all and everyone, as well as some people can make a living out of utilizing these resources.
In the modern society, many people’s livelihood and everyday living depend a lot on the availability and convenience of electricity being supply to their villages, cities, homes, factories, farms, offices and shops. Some people insist not to use the electricity for some ethical reasons, and that is their own choice.
20.) Some people labelled the yoga in yoga classes being taught without fees as ‘non-commercial’, and the yoga being taught in yoga classes with fees as ‘commercial’. Does that mean the teachings of yoga being taught in both commercial and non-commercial yoga classes will be different, although there might be different intentions behind it? There’s no guarantee that there won’t be any impure intention in the non-commercial yoga classes, nor there must be impure intention in the commercial yoga classes. Non-commercial yoga classes doesn’t guarantee all the yoga students will be free from ignorance and egoism. And it doesn’t mean that all the students in the commercial yoga classes will not be free from ignorance and egoism. If yoga being taught in the commercial yoga classes can bring certain awareness to the society, and more people are becoming more aware of their minds, and learn how to be kind to themselves and to others, what’s so wrong with the commercial yoga classes then? Unless there are corruptions exist in the yoga classes among the teachers and the students, it doesn’t matter if it is non-commercial or commercial yoga classes, then there’s something is going against the teachings of yoga.
Now, it’s up to us, whether to add something else onto these information, or to take away some of these information that we think are irrelevant, to figure out the truth through our own self-inquiry.