Teaching yoga or practicing yoga is nothing to do with money, ‘fees’, or ‘donation’. No one can sell or buy yoga, or peace, or compassion, or wisdom, or liberation from suffering with any amount of money, or ‘fees’, or ‘donation’.
Meanwhile, running ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ that involve a lot of expenses/maintenance/labour/management/coordination requires money in the form of ‘fees’ or ‘donation’ for it to be happening. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if the money received is in the form of ‘donation’, it means ‘non-commercialized yoga’ or ‘authentic yoga’, or if the money received is in the form of ‘fees’, it means ‘commercialized yoga’ or ‘inauthentic yoga’. Such a simple understanding, but due to ignorance, many minds/people do not understand this.
Yoga classes/courses based on ‘donation’ without requesting a specific fees are not necessarily pure and authentic, or it’s being free from any form of ‘corruptions’. While yoga classes/courses required specific amount of fees are not necessarily impure, inauthentic, or corrupted.
People would perceive ‘yoga classes’ based on ‘donation’ or ‘small amount of fees’ that they think is ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable’ as ‘authentic yoga’ conducted by ‘compassionate’ yoga teachers, while ‘yoga classes’ required ‘certain amount of fees’ that they think is ‘inappropriate’ or ‘unacceptable’ as ‘inauthentic yoga’ conducted by ‘money minded’ yoga teachers.
Yoga students come to the yoga teacher to study yoga and seek guidance from the teacher and they give some fees/money to the teacher to support the teacher’s living is nothing to do with ‘commercial’ or ‘inauthenticity’. It’s like grown up working children give their parents some money regularly to support their parents’ living, there’s nothing wrong and nothing commercial. It’s a form of love, kindness, generosity, sharing, gratitude and gratefulness, even though the parents bring up the children out of love, without expecting anything in return. If the children grown up and are working, but only want to keep all that they earn for themselves, for they own living enjoyments and social expenses, and they refuse to support their own parents’ living, or those who are grown up but are lazy to work or spent all their earned money on non-essential things and enjoyments, couldn’t support their own living and need to depend on other people’s charity for living, not to say to support their parents’ living, then that is something ‘absurd’.
Many people who only want to pay very little ‘fees’ to attend ‘yoga classes’ or who prefer to attend ‘free yoga classes based on donation’ would think and expect that ‘yoga teachers’ should all be beggars to beg for donation, food, clothing and shelter on the street while giving ‘yoga classes’ for free or on donation basis. This type of ‘yoga classes’ is most probably unwittingly empowering ‘ignorance’ and supporting ‘corruption’, supporting people who would spend money generously on their personal worldly indulgence/enjoyment/social life activities, but would think and believe that it’s ‘wrong’ or ‘inappropriate’ to pay certain amount of fees to attend ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’.
There are some people who already have a good financial support for their living, where they don’t need to depend on receiving any ‘fees’ or ‘donation’ from teaching or running ‘yoga classes’ as a form of charity coming from them to other people. That’s very good, but not many people are having such financial-free living condition. Many people need to somehow ‘make a living’ to support themselves and also maybe some other people under their care. If the basic living necessity is not available, people need to be spending time and energy to ‘make a living’ in order to ‘survive’, not to say to have the spare money, time and energy to ‘organize’ charity yoga classes for people who want to enjoy cheap or free yoga classes.
Meanwhile, there are those who think and believe that they are ‘highly spiritual beings’, would perceive receiving ‘money’ in the form of ‘fees’ for conducting ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ as a form of ‘evilness’, ‘wrongfulness’, ‘impurity’, ‘corruption’, ‘greed’, ‘down fall’, or ‘non-spiritual’, that ‘yoga classes’ or ‘spiritual activities’ shouldn’t be ‘tainted’ by ‘money’ or ‘fees’. They don’t mind receiving ‘donations’ from anyone, but they don’t want to get involved in ‘money matters’ personally. They don’t want to be physically touching any money or keeping any money under their names, or keeping any money close to their body or their ‘spiritual practice space’, but they need some other people who look after them to handle the money in the form of ‘donation’ that support their living and all kind of expenses.
Many good people who try to be good and do good and work very hard to make an honest living in this world are not exempted from the suffering of poverty or hunger/thirst and exploitation by others. People want to enjoy cheap goods, enjoyments, conveniences and services, and that’s how all kinds of exploitation started in this world of commercialism.
People who are busy in life need the existence of the convenience and service of shops/eateries, which rely on the people who devote their time, effort, attention and money into running shops/eateries to provide the convenience and service to the people while taking the risk of running business. The existence of shops/eateries also need to depend on other people who work or run business that provide everything from farming and harvesting to transportation and providing all kinds of shop, kitchen and dining equipment, that allow the shops to put goods on their shelves for people to buy and allow the eateries to put meals on the table for the people to consume. Even though it’s a business or work involved with money transactions, but still it’s a form of ‘convenience and service’ that benefits many people. If nobody interested in taking the risk of running a business and devoting their time, energy and money into starting a shop/eatery, or if nobody is involving in farming/harvesting/transportation/providing shop, kitchen and dining equipment, or food production is not available due to any natural/technical cause, people won’t be able to enjoy such convenience and service. It doesn’t mean that any form of ‘business’ involved with money transaction is ‘non-giving to the society’ or ‘non-compassionate’.
Compassionate actions are not necessarily have to be free from any involvement with ‘money’. Even when there are some good and kind people want to help other unfortunate people in this world, they also need to gather money in the form of donation/contribution/funding from somewhere in order to help other people. Selfless actions are also not necessarily have to be free from the involvement of ‘money’, it’s about non-attachment and non-identification towards one’s actions and the fruit of the actions. It doesn’t mean that when people are working and getting some monthly salary for living, or people who run business and getting some yearly profits for living, that their action of contributing their time, energy, attention, knowledge, skill or talent into their work or business is nothing to do with ‘selfless service’. If everyone doesn’t work or run any business, this society that builds on social economy that provides all kind of conveniences and services will collapse.
Any kinds of work, or duty and responsibility towards oneself and others, or business, can turn into a form of selfless service even when there are involvement of ‘money’, if people know what is performing actions without egoism. Volunteering work doesn’t necessarily means ‘selfless service’ when it’s done with attachment and identification. Non-expectation also doesn’t mean that ‘not receiving anything in return’. As all actions will bring the fruit of actions as it is, whether people have expectation, or not. Those who are free from expectation, they allow the fruit of actions to be what it is, it’s not about ‘I don’t want any fruit of actions after I performed actions’. That is ignorant understanding influenced by egoism of ‘I want to give without getting anything in return as it’s not selfless service anymore if I am getting something in return’.
People don’t really need to attend any ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga retreats’ to be learning and practicing yoga, or to be peaceful, compassionate, wise, forgiving and be able to let go what the world categorize as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘hurtful’. People can be attending many yoga classes and yoga courses regularly for many years, or teaching yoga for a long time, but still, the mind is not free from ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness, still being determined by worldly idea, thinking, belief and practice, and are under the influence of the desire of craving and aversion towards dualities and qualities of names and forms very much, as the mind still couldn’t go beyond the mind perception of the duality of ‘good and bad’, ‘right and wrong’, ‘positive and negative’ and ‘happiness and unhappiness, and hence, unwittingly chasing after what the mind categorizes as ‘goodness’, ‘rightfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘happiness’, while rejecting what the mind categorizes as ‘badness’, ‘wrongfulness’, negativeness’ and ‘unhappiness’. The mind couldn’t see things as they are, or allow everything to be what they are, as they are. That’s nothing wrong, as the mind misunderstood the teaching of yoga about ‘positive thinking’. Many yoga enthusiasts, including ‘yoga teachers’, think and believe that it’s about influencing/making/changing everything to become ‘positive’ or ‘good’. But actually it’s merely about when the mind is over-powered by ‘negative thinking’, then the mind can cultivate positive thinking to counter negative thinking, and when the mind is free from negative thinking, there’s no need of positive thinking, as everything is just what they are, neither positive nor negative, neither good nor bad.
Although there’s nothing wrong with sincerely looking for a teacher to learn and practice yoga, to seek guidance of how to free the mind from ignorance and its by-products of egoism, impurities and restlessness – the root cause of suffering.
It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think, believe, behave, act and react.
Contemplate on this, and be free.