in this ground, take root and grow
When I (Kristen) originally started practicing yoga it was helping me heal from an eating disorder. I found a studio that became a home for me. I was 21 and fresh out of eating disorder rehab. I was a full-time college student and not yet a yoga teacher. I paid $50 for an Intro Month Special and after that was over, I knew I could no longer afford to take classes. When I explained my situation to the owners of that studio they agreed to take me on as part of their work exchange program. I worked several shifts per week in exchange for free yoga. Having that kind access to yoga changed my life and allowed me to meet a community of people who I imagine will be the very people to breathe life into The Yoga Ground today, 11 years later.
Growing up in a working class family, one thing I became aware of as I got older was that how much money you had was often proportionate to how many doors opened up for you in life. Money and good insurance is the difference between individuals sick with eating disorders being able to find, afford, and stay in life-saving treatment, or battle with their illness forever. Money is often the difference between going to college or not going to college. It is the difference between graduating college debt-free or having to pay back hundreds of dollars per month. Money often dictates whether or not a yoga-lover can become a yoga teacher.
As someone who is also part of the life coaching world, I have watched the “health and wellness industry,” the one that changed and saved my life, become just another industry priced for those with a lot of money. Life coaching programs can easily run $500+ per month and yoga classes have gone from $18/class in 2008 to upwards of $35/class in some studios today.
But feeling like you have access to yoga isn’t just based on finances. In addition to being a yoga teacher, I am a certified eating disorder recovery coach. I am very sensitive to the way in which yoga is portrayed on social media and in magazines: a practice for thin white women who can do crazy things with their bodies. Now, I want to be clear that I am not bashing these women. I know many people who look like this who are kind, generous, and walking their talk. But I also know that only portraying yoga in this way excludes a majority of other people who would love to try yoga, but feel like it isn’t for them.
The wellness world is a competitive market and we live in an expensive area. The studios charging a lot per drop-in are beautiful studios with luxurious amenities. Many of these studios are run by amazing people who give back to their communities in a variety of ways. However I read this quote a few months ago and it made me pause:
'“Don’t be fancy. Just help people”.
The Yoga Ground is a studio on a mission. It was created with an awareness of the shadow side of the “health & wellness” industry. The side where rising prices have made life-enhancing wellness practices only available to those with a lot of money. The side where “health” has become a chase for the “yoga body,” rather than an appreciation for the body that you already have. At The Yoga Ground we ask, “What is enough?” At what point can we just be happy with who we are and what we have, rather than always searching for more? More income, more muscle, more thinness, more likes, more comments, more locations, more happiness, etc. We take “come as you are” seriously here. Come as you are with what you have. Everybody is invited. Including you.