This Reader Story is from GRS reader Charu. He loves staying physically active and has recently gotten addicted to yoga. You can check out his free e-book on yoga for beginners at his blog, strongyogi.com. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. Want to submit your own reader story? Here's how.
In December 2012, I decided to restart my daily yoga.
The reasons were varied… from going red in the face when tying up my shoelaces to succumbing to the stress of university life.
I had learned my yoga as a kid in India when my dad forced me to go to yoga classes even though I grouched and complained a lot. I had practiced it at home irregularly since then and had never taken it seriously.
Now, I was ready to start it again and began looking for a yoga class to join. As a university student who was all about frugality, I quickly realized that joining a yoga class could be very expensive. So I began looking for ways that I could save money.
Over the past year, I have saved close to $1,200 ($100/month membership) in yoga class costs by doing my yoga at home. I also got in the best shape of my life, got rid of stress and became a happier, more confident person.
Although, traditionally, yoga books have stressed the importance of learning it under the guidance of a teacher, with the help of technology and a few resources, I was able to successfully practice it on my own. But before I go into that, the first question that ran through my head was whether it was actually safe to do at home. So let's take a look at that.
What the yoga experts say about doing yoga at home
In his book “Moving Toward Balance: 8 weeks of Yoga with Rodney Yee”, the celebrity yoga expert says,
“… I believe that to truly understand yoga, you have to do it on your own. Taking yoga classes provides many benefits, of course, but I have observed time and time again that it is when people start to practice at home that the real insights occur. In class, you follow the teacher's instructions and move at the pace your teacher sets for you. At home you learn to listen to your body and breath, to move at your own pace, and to begin to develop your intuition about how to balance your body as well as many different aspects of your life.”
In my experience, I found what he says to be true. The true purpose of yoga is to attain inner peace, and at home, it is OK to make mistakes and go at your own pace rather than the pace set by your teacher.
Since I was busy most of the time, I also saved gas money and lots of time by not having to drive to a yoga class every day.
What I did to get started
If you are an intermediate or advanced yogi, you probably already know a lot of the techniques well enough to do it at home without any problems. However, since it had been a while since I had done yoga, I invested in some instructional content to help me with my practice.
Doyogawithme.com — This website not only has free high-definition videos for everyone to watch, but the instructors are great too. They also have yoga programs ranging from beginner to advanced. For these programs, you are asked to name a fair price at anything above $1. Although I haven't invested in these programs, judging by the quality of their videos and the website in general, I am sure that the programs are very high quality too.
Yoga books — There are lots of books on yoga for beginners. I personally bought only two when I got started. The first was “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar, who is considered a leading yoga expert and founder of Iyengar style of yoga, which I personally follow. It is more of a reference book used by most yoga teachers today rather than a beginner yoga book. But it is a must-have book, especially if you are serious about yoga. I also bought “Rodney Yee's Yoga For Beginners,” a DVD, which is also a great resource. You can find both on Amazon for cheap.
Forget yoga fashion — Since I did my practice at home, I never bothered with fashion. As a guy, I probably wouldn't have bothered too much even if I was going to class anyways. But, from talking to friends, I have heard that Lululemon is definitely not the way to go if you are into frugality.
I didn't use any yoga equipment — To this day, I don't use any yoga mats, props or any other special yoga equipment. For an average person with average flexibility, you really don't need any of them. Specifically with the sun salutation program that I was doing (which you can find in my e-book), it's not really necessary. At most, you need a mat, which you can find for cheap online.
If you think about it, this makes yoga the most portable exercise ever since you can literally do it wherever, whenever.
Here are some other resources that I personally didn't use but which you can use to save money:
myyogaonline.com for $9.95 / month — At a fraction of what it costs to do yoga in a studio, this seems to be a great website to use if you're on a budget. I haven't used it, but I've read some positive reviews.
Join a normal yoga class for a short time — Another useful trick you can use is to join a yoga class for a short time, let's say four months, and once you have acquired the foundation for your poses and techniques, you can start doing it on your own at home.
Yoga Groupons and student discounts — You can find discounts for your yoga class at groupon.com or other similar sites, which is a great way to try out a class for a short while to see if you like it. You can also ask yoga studios for a student discount if you are a student.
Volunteering at yoga classes — You can talk to yoga studios to see if they have a volunteering option. i.e.. they give you access to free or discounted classes in exchange for volunteering hours.
So if you look at it, my initial expenses were the book and the DVD. The only thing I did spend lots of was time — time talking to people and on different websites doing research to perfect my technique for the poses.
I hope this story motivates you to start yoga without worrying about taking a dent in your wallet.