Yes, you can do yoga on a budget

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. 

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.

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Alex
Alex
6 years ago

Seems like you missed the most obvious Yoga resource, YouTube.

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Thanks Alex. Just wanted to prevent the list from getting too long by not making it too obvious. Youtube is a fantastic resource though. 🙂

David Hooper
David Hooper
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex

There is good/bad yoga on YouTube. If you don’t know the difference, you can hurt yourself. And how much will that cost you? 🙂

ncb
ncb
6 years ago

Thanks for sharing, Charu. As a yoga instructor, there is one thing I want to talk about: If you don’t have a background in yoga (as you did), consider paying for a few private lessons when you first start. Doing yoga according to a video or website can be dangerous if you don’t fully understand alignment. The way poses “look” can be quite different from safe alignment. All of my private clients (even ones who have been going to classes for years and especially the ones whose yoga practice has only been at home) are shocked that they’ve been doing… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  ncb

Is the OP a qualified professional? I couldn’t tell from his blog.

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  ncb

I agree with what you are saying. Especially the part about people realizing that their form was bad. However, I still believe that if people follow the right instructions carefully, then yoga practice for beginners is still possible. Most people don’t view time as a commodity, as opposed to money. So, in my opinion, if someone doesn’t want to invest money in a yoga class, then they have to invest more time, especially in the beginning of their home practice, to make sure that the look and feel of their poses is correct. I admit this is harder as it… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Charu Chandra

Ah. Thanks for the response. For me at least, this is one of those cases where I’m happy to pay for the expertise of a certified professional to get me started. It’s a personal preference — I’ve learned a lot about proper form in other fitness classes I’ve taken, and I like having someone correct me when I’m learning a new skill.

Best wishes with your blog!

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Technique is very important regardless of whether you are lifting weights or doing yoga. Good luck on your yoga journey and thanks for the wishes.:)

David Hooper
David Hooper
6 years ago
Reply to  ncb

YES! I was just going to mention this. And alignment (as well as issues with it) never ends. I’ve been doing yoga (multiple classes per week plus an at-home practice) since 1998. I’ve been to a 14-month (Iyengar style) yoga teacher training that was 1000 hours (most are 200). And I still have alignment issues… If I didn’t have anybody watching me, who knows where things would be.

Matt YLBody
Matt YLBody
6 years ago

You can also do yoga classes at 24h Fitness. They offer them on almost a daily basis plus you get all the other benefits of the gym as well.

If you’re in the San Diego area, there are a few places you can find free yoga in the evenings on the beach.

Mrs. PoP
Mrs. PoP
6 years ago
Reply to  Matt YLBody

Yes to free and reduced cost community yoga! Yoga outdoors is an amazing way to commune with nature and many community centers here offer classes free or for a very low cost (one of our local community centers offered 12 weeks of beginner’s yoga for 15 dollars). If these types of programs aren’t offered in your area, I’d consider taking your practice to a local park anyhow. By letting other people see you in your practice, they might ask to join in and you can form your own group that practices with one another (very nice since many appreciate the… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Thanks for the tips! I’d love to try yoga, and this article has inspired me to look into affordable options in my area. The tip about “forget yoga fashion” made me laugh. Do we really need a designer label for our work out wear? Apparently. I had to go look at Lululemon’s website — $90+ for yoga pants and then about $90 for heavier pants to wear to and from yoga in cold weather. Nevermind the tops, hoodies, duffle bags, accessories… On a serious note, I think the pressure to look good while working out keeps people from participating. Sadly,… Read more »

Emmy
Emmy
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Haha, as much as I try to forget what everyone else is doing, this is so me. The gym is intimidating, because everyone seems to magically already know what they’re doing! I guess it doesn’t help that I go my school’s gym, which seems to always be filled with slim 20-year-old volleyball players. 😉

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Emmy

Admittedly, I feel the same way at the gym! I’m the klutz who nearly trips getting off the treadmill so I was thrilled to discover the walking track at the local rec centre. People of all ages, sizes and abilities use it. I went from feeling like I was being watched to feeling like a part of the community.

I also like aqua aerobics — no one can see how uncoordinated I am underwater 😉

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Lululemon doesn’t contribute to this ‘pressure’ by not having yoga pants above a certain size. It’s like they want to create a social divide. Those who wear Lululemon and those who don’t. Although I have heard that the quality of their clothing is great…

Leah
Leah
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I sewed my own yoga bag from the leg of an old pair of jeans. And I think I bought my yoga pants at Old Navy when I practiced. No need to splash out $$ — those pants lasted me forever.

If you’re with a university, look to see if they have low-cost classes. That’s how I took yoga classes. The grade program subsidized class costs, and even the cost of the mat, so I got a mat for $5.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Leah

I wore Old Navy to Pilates classes — $15! I still have those pants, actually.

I’ve noticed many retailers have their own lines of active wear now. I’m skeptical that at Lululemon pants at $90+ are three times better than $30 pants. I’ve never own LL anything, so people may feel free to correct me.

Don’t get me wrong, people can buy Lululemon if that’s what they want. Those of us on a budget shouldn’t feel that’s the norm though.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
6 years ago
Reply to  Leah

Way back in 2006 I paid $5 for yoga pants from Walgreens, of all places. I took only three actual classes (one for a college credit and two at a community center) but wore the pants around the house and sometimes even while doing errands. (Blame Seattle.) The pants are still in good shape. I agree that you should take some kind of class first because we don’t always copy correctly. More than once the instructor would come over and gently correct the point of my foot or the bend of my knee, even though I would have sworn I… Read more »

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I have to say, this is one reason why I love Lucille Roberts, my gym. It’s women-only…. While fashion probably still comes into play a *little* bit (very little), the big difference is that I’ll still go work out even if I haven’t shaved my legs. That definitely would have prevented me from going if it were a coed gym.

M
M
6 years ago

I’ve been doing yoga for years. My yoga teacher conducts classes in her home to save $$ and it’s $20 for two hours. She’s been practicing/teaching for about 30 yrs. Cheapest health care I can find! Occasionally, I trade classes for eggs,produce and lamb that I grow at home.

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  M

Haha, good old barter system. That should definitely be at the top of the list. 😛

Linda
Linda
6 years ago

I use YogaGlo. It’s $18 a month and has different types of yoga and guided meditations. It has introduction class to different types of yoga. It even had educational classes about yoga. Excellent teachers!!! I think it’s worth every penny!

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Linda

I have heard good things about YogaGlo as well. I wondered how they compared with other yoga video websites like myyogaonline.com for example. In the end i just picked one out of the two to prevent the list from getting too long. Also, would you rank the free videos on doyogawithme.com the same as YogaGlo’s?

Natalie
Natalie
6 years ago

This is great 🙂 I completely agree that there is a misperception about the kind of lifestyle you must lead in order to do yoga… Capitalism taking something pure and squeezing money out of it 🙁

Jeanne
Jeanne
6 years ago

This is a great post. My studio offers “yogi jobs” like cleaning the studio once a week, or handing out flyers for a month of free yoga. They also recently launched http://www.mat2mat.com I signed up for one of the channels (only $9 a month!) and love that there are short videos from the teachers on form and alignment in addition to longer practices. I know I’ve benefited a lot from live instruction, but I also really love the flexibility of doing this at home instead of matching my schedule to the studios schedule.

Babs
Babs
6 years ago

Good post! Way to look at things from a different perspective.

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

I’d add that many yoga classes come free with regular gym memberships (though the quality can vary, I’ve had some amazing instructors as a regular ol’ fitness gym). I’d also recommend checking your local library for yoga DVDs.

Susan
Susan
6 years ago

Yes it costs to go to classes, though you can shop around. My yoga classes are quite reasonable. There are other positives though – well being, inner calm. After the Christchurch earthquakes we started back at classes within 2 weeks at a private house and I sincerely believe yoga has kept me sane in the aftermath! So it’s saved me the cost of counselling and stress-related health issues! All my class were affected one way or another (and the yoga school lost it’s building!) but we all agree that we seemed to have an inner resilience that we could put… Read more »

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Good to hear that yoga helped keep you sane after the earthquake Susan. You have no idea how much it has helped me relieve stress in my own life. Done right, yoga along with meditation is probably the best way to achieve inner peace and to keep your mind fresh and focused. Not to mention, the physical benefits.

Eric Duminil
Eric Duminil
6 years ago

Thanks for the tips.
My frugal GF loves “Let’s Yoga” on Nintendo DS.
You can find the game for less than 10$ on Amazon or Ebay, and old Nintendo DS for around 50$.

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Eric Duminil

Thanks Eric, I never knew about this. Does it actually make you do the real yoga with actual poses and everything or is it changed to make it more game-like?

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Good article – thank you! I just wanted to add that another invaluable (and free!) resource is Yoga Journal – http://www.yogajournal.com/ This website, the online companion to the print journal, has loads of articles about yoga (and related ‘stuff’), and also lots of free videos. The videos are rated ‘beginner’ ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’, and also by length. You can find everything from a 5 minute video explaining a beginner’s asana/pose, to a strenuous, 30 minute advanced session. I really recommend it, and often go to their website when I fancy trying something different 🙂 (By the way, I’m not getting… Read more »

Charu Chandra
Charu Chandra
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Thanks Beth! I clearly missed this one since I have used their website a lot. They are a very high quality website and see a lot of helpful information on there whenever i am looking to improve my technique for certain yoga poses.

Jen
Jen
6 years ago

Good tips for low-cost yoga. Our local library sometimes has yoga on the lawn-type events, so that’s another place to check.

I would echo others above about trying to get at least one class with an instructor in. Virtually all of the yoga studios in my area offer the first class free to new students. It’s really important to understand correct alignment, and to use care when transitioning from one posture to the next. You can hurt yourself if you aren’t doing things correctly. The smallest adjustments in foot position or arm position can make a difference.

partgypsy1
partgypsy1
6 years ago

I really appreciate this article! I’m another one doing yoga at home (usually in my pajamas). But I do have to admit I did take about 4 yoga classes (2 anusara classes, beginning, intermediate) and couple other instructors with mixed styles. the anusara one was particularly helpful as the instructor did alot of corrections, which I still remember. At home I rely on videos (Rodney Yee and Tamal Dodge are two favorites), but I will definitely look into the other resources as well now that I know about them!

Kai Jones
Kai Jones
6 years ago

My hometown has a yoga studio that is “donation only.” Really, they have a box by the entry door and if you want to donate, you can. They don’t even have a suggested amount! I took a yoga class there once and didn’t put in any money, but the teacher still took time to check in with me (since I was new) and ask about my previous yoga practice and whether I’d had a good experience–all without even a hint that I could or should put some money in the box.

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