Mind, Body, and Money: How to Reconcile Making Money In Your Spiritual Practice of a Yoga Studio

“Money is evil,” said Lisa. “Look at all the harm that has come throughout history from rich self-serving people, especially those in positions of power.” Of course, she was right about that…but is it really the money that is the culprit?In the world of mind-body-spirit, we tend to have this paradoxical relationship with money. On the one hand, we sometimes want to think of the work we do as being above the materialism of money. Yet on the other hand, we all have bills to pay.It’s awfully hard to keep a studio open if there’s not enough money coming in to pay the rent and keep the lights on. And if we close down the studio, then how do we share our practice with our community? How do clients, who would have gladly paid to keep the studio open so they would have a place to go for yoga, feel now they don’t have that choice anymore?Somewhere between the extremes of being a materialistic, cash-hungry beast and seeing oneself above the need for money, there is a balance. My view on this is actually largely independent from money: money is neither good nor bad.A knife can be used to prepare a delicious meal or be used as a weapon. The nature of money is determined by the person using it. It is an amplifier for the person spending it. If someone with money was kind and generous before they became wealthy, they are likely to be even more kind and giving with money. A nasty and selfish person who gains money tends to become more greedy, fearful and mean. Money is a tool and a form of energy.Gandhi understood this well. Many of us saw Gandhi as being above something so mundane as cash. The reality was that he received contributions of the current-day equivalent of millions of dollars at a time from people like G. D. Birla in order to fund his many peaceful and spiritual efforts. Without money, his efforts would have floundered and his name might well be unknown to most people. (A wealthy benefactor once told Gandhi with a smile, “It’s costing me a fortune for you to live a simple life!”)The second richest person in the world (Warren Buffet) recently took 85% of his fortune and gave it to charity, reasoning that it would do a lot more good there than it would to build a family dynasty. He believes that it is his role to help make the world a better place. He sees that investing this much (about $40 billion – that’s what you would get if you had one million dollars 40,000 times over) as allowing him to single-handedly change the world.Using his money as a form of energy – a way to achieve results – he can fund complete cures for whole diseases. How would it help something like breast cancer or muscular dystrophy if 500 of the finest doctors in the field worked together to develop a cure with virtually no limit on their resources? Money is an amplifier – it allows you to be more of who you already are.So what does this mean to you as a studio owner? Perhaps that money can be a really good thing, as long as it is treated with care and respect (just like the knife). Here are some examples of what this looks like:1. Charge what you’re worth. There will always be people who want it to cost less, yet remember that if you don’t earn enough to make ends meet, then you will be able to serve no one.2. Decide to give a certain amount of classes or services each month to people who have financial challenges.3. Pick your target market. If you mainly serve college students who are strapped for cash, offer lower-priced, shorter sessions to bring in more of them (and teach more classes). If you serve upper-class professionals, charge more. They would much rather have you be successful than save a few dollars per class.4. Figure out how much you want to earn each month. Determine your rates by working backward from this number to what you will need to charge per student per class. This can also tell you how many students you will need to have in order to meet your financial goals. This is one of the areas I often work with clients on in order to help them earn what they want to.The bottom line is that while money is often abused in our society, this is a choice. You can choose to accept it graciously and use it to create a space that provides students and clients with an exceptional experience. You can use it to honor yourself as a balanced spiritual being, and allow yourself to afford peaceful retreats to spas, perhaps to take weekends off, or maybe even just enjoy a trip to Hawaii.You deserve this – nowhere is it written that you are to deny yourself life’s comforts and instead end up burned out. You are a worthy human being who has every right to be paid for what you provide, as well as to make choices as to how that money should be spent.Namaste.

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