photo of man diving in to water

The Lifestyle Dilemma

The dream

Do you ever dream about diving deeply into spiritual practice? Dream about making something a regular part of your daily routine? Perhaps you try it out consistently for an entire month, or maybe even longer than that. Waking up in the morning and practicing seated meditation. Journaling with consistency every night before bed. Getting to the yoga mat to practice asana everyday. Taking cold showers for some reason… thanks Wim Hof.

Then all of a sudden, the routine ends and you drift back into the regularity of your life. What happened here? Was the practice of showing up daily too much? Did you burn yourself out somehow? This lifestyle dilemma exists for me too.

The Lifestyle Dilemma

The Ruse

I think this idea of a routine being the answer is something the health and wellness industry is trying to sell you. A ruse to get into your pocketbook. This is something that is so heavily sold by the yoga industry and often believed in by the teachers and students with steadfast determination.

Life requires balance. One specific thing is never the answer to all of life’s mysteries. Yoga can’t solve all your problems although it can be a pretty good distraction from them.

Yoga can’t fix you, but it sure can be a great window into yourself. This was so important for me to learn, and it helped me start to take control of my self care journey, instead of thinking that my yoga practice would be everything I needed.

The Numbers

One problem that I see in the yoga industry is the price of the average monthly studio membership. They are so expensive, often upwards of $100.00 monthly, which let’s be honest, not many of us can afford. I recently read an article suggesting that most Canadians cannot even afford their basic cost of living (source: here).

person picking fake monopoly money

It would seem that the majority of the health and wellness industry has become a place for the privileged. Think about it, those of us who cannot even afford to put food on our tables or pay our rent are probably quite stressed out. These people deserve an option for some sort of self care routine they can afford. Yoga should cost less.

The Outcome

I believe that the high cost of the average yoga membership, combined with the common desire amongst us to develop a daily spiritual practice of some sort, has created an high pressure atmosphere among us yoga practitioners. A lifestyle dilemma emerges and we feel we must achieve this daily practice in order to unlock the fullest potential of our healing journey, or just give up on it entirely.

Since our memberships have often cost us so much we might be left feeling a pressure to show up quite regularly, to make it “worth our money”. If a yoga pass was only $20-$40 per month it would be more accessible to those of us on a lower income. Perhaps this lower price would also lessen the pressure of getting so much out of your experience on the yoga mat. It would give those of us who can just barely afford those $100 yoga passes some breathing room and it would make the yoga practice accessible to a many more individuals. Some people can afford those higher prices, and for them a cheaper yoga pass would give them money to spend on other types of physical fitness they might be curious about. You could buy a new bike with that money you saved! Go rock climbing once a month! Explore!

man holding tree enjoying the view mountain

The Reality

I realize that some of us will continue to come to yoga mat everyday, and I want to say that’s totally fine. For some it’s actually exactly where they need to be for right now. But I know that some of us could use a new model. I know I needed it after teaching yoga in studios for over 7 years. I needed to not hear the narrative that “I can just leave it all on the mat” or that “yoga will fix me”. Those messages often left me feeling a bit disconnected from my own life and the realities I face. For me it is a welcome time to leave the lifestyle dilemma behind and just live my life.

Remember that you don’t have to practice yoga everyday to find a special connection with yourself, there are so many amazing ways you can forge a healthy relationship with your self care routine. In the same breath, for me yoga is still pretty awesome and I really love coming onto my yoga mat when I can.

What now?

Well for me, someone who teaches yoga and love yoga I still am going to show up on my yoga mat fairly regularly. But I won’t beat myself up when things don’t feel that great, or fluid during my yoga practice. I won’t beat myself up if I take a few weeks off of the yoga practice when life gets busy.

I just finished teaching a 30 day yoga challenge last January and during the challenge I encouraged my participants to find a yoga practice that was accessible to their lifestyle. The challenge wasn’t to actually do precisely 30 days of yoga in a row, but rather to normalize the fact that it’s okay if we all have different practice goals. Once a week is a huge accomplishment for some of us, and those accomplishments also deserve a space to be celebrated!

Perhaps you too can ease the pressure on yourself to “do it all” everyday, and as this quote from Soto Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki suggests:

“Each of you is perfect the way you are … and you can use a little improvement.”

― Shunryu Suzuki

Thanks for taking the time to read my musings. Have a lovely and balanced day.

See you soon on the yoga mat, or out on a hike!

-Matthew Carter

The Yoga Pass

My memberships are a suggested cost of $40.00 per month, but I also offer a “pay what you can” membership. Some of my students pay much less, because that is what they can afford and I am more than happy to open my digital doors to them!