I am unemployed/underemployed. What if I don’t have money this week? Can I afford yoga? Also, what do you mean by “love offering”?
The “Love offering” is a way of talking about the important energy exchange that takes places in the context of taking yoga. In short, the “love offering” is often, but not always, a monetary offering that the student makes to the teacher in exchange for what the teacher offers the student in the form of the class. It is an important spiritual practice to assess what something is worth to you and act accordingly. Thus, in my experience, it has been important for me to regularly reflect on what the practice and study of yoga means to me, and to offer an exchange of energy that is befitting that importance.
I recognize that we are in an era of escalating under- and unemployment. Capitalism is alienating and toxic for all of us. It is especially so for anyone who finds themselves on the targeted side of the shifting landscape of institutionalized oppressions, labor flexibilization, and the global race to the bottom for wages and working conditions. I think it is therefore increasingly important for all of us to choose connection over isolation, to refuse to retreat into the shadows while those who have abundant resources turn our streets and cities and our world into a private playground for the rich.
Unfortunately, money is the “easiest” way that we assign value or exchange energy here and now, in the context of capitalism. It is essentially short-hand for “this thing/person/service/etc. is valuable to me and therefore I will offer this much of my own energy to reflect that.” And whilst we are all stuck in capitalism, money does continue to play a role. I have fixed costs of living that I have to be responsible to, so money is somewhat significant to me.
But money is not the only way to show that something is valuable. That is why I use the term “love offering” and why I truly invite folks to offer what is valuable and meaningful. In a self-selecting, community-based, all-levels space, there is a wide variety of financial capacity in the room. Our bottom-lines are not all created equally. A weekly $10 love offering might be perfectly doable for someone, while a $4 offering every other week might be what someone else can do. Meanwhile, someone else might not have any extra money but can offer something else that is significant, meaningful, and valuable. Further, someone might be able to afford more than the suggested $10 love offering, and in so doing can help directly “subsidize” or support my capacity to keep offering donation-based yoga.
It is an important spiritual practice to ask for what you need. If a weekly financial love offering is out of reach for you now, or ever, I hope and expect that you will not stay away because of that, but also that you will reflect on what you can offer and be accountable for doing your part.
It is also an important spiritual practice for me to ask and expect to be fairly and justly compensated for what I offer. Thus, this yoga is not, strictly speaking, “free.” I have invested a lot in acquiring the skills and experience that make this offering possible. I make a conscious choice to make it accessible by offering it in a non-traditional space and on a donation basis. As such, I hope you also do your part to invest in helping sustain it.
Some examples of creative love offerings include:
- Locally-grown organic veggies
- Web or graphic design work
- Access to resources like an event venue or retreat space
- Work-study jobs directly related to the yoga class itself, like space set-up, signing students in, clean-up, promotion, etc.
- Help in seeking matching grants or other financial resources to support this community-based project
- Recruiting more folks to join
Bottom line, if you want to be there, I want you there. Don’t be shy, reach out and ask for what you need.