Lakshmi, the goddess of material and spiritual wealth, of generousity, purity, beauty, grace, charm and fertility stares down at me as I write this post.
She looks content, perched upon a lotus flower, dribbling coins in one hand and holding a beautiful urn in the other. (Two other hands wave lotus flowers.)
She reminds me of a card in my favourite tarot deck by Indian mystic Osho, the King of Rainbows (Pentacles, coins) – Abundance. He too lounges and languishes in a rainbow of colours, one hand holding a lotus flower the other held up in offering. Of Abundance, Osho says:
“Half of humanity (the East) has been accepting the inner world but denying the outer world. The other half of humanity (the West) has been accepting the material world and denying the inner world. Both are half, and no man who is half can be contented.
You have to be whole: rich in body, rich in meditation, rich in consciousness. Only a whole person is holy, according to me.”
Both of these images represent the state of flow, giving with one hand, accepting with the other. Lakshmi holds wealth in one hand, and gives wealth in another. The Kind of Rainbows holds beauty in one hand, and offers himself in the other.
Together they remind us that nothing is ever static in this world – from moment to moment there is always change, always flow. When we attempt to resist this change, block this change, hoard against this change, we set ourselves up for misery. We disconnect from life, from the dance, from the faith that all is OK in each and every moment.
When The Secret came out a while back, the blogosphere was awash with articles on the Law of Attraction and positive thinking and vision boards and how to make it work for you… there was a lot of emphasize on what you could get as a result of living the way of The Secret. I believe there was truth in the fundamentals of the message, but it tended to focus on”getting”. There seemed to be a missing side of the equation… giving!
We do live in an abundant world, with more than enough for everyone, of that there is no doubt. It is the hoarding and he holding that creates blockages and prevents flow, and this hoarding is based on a scarcity mindset – there’s not enough, I had better hold on. I want to challenge this mindset, this way of being, so I’ve teamed up with fellow Prana Flow Yoga teacher Taisuke Tanimura to start Wellington-based Prana Flow Yoga classes.
And in the spirit of seva*, Taisuke Tanimura and I are using the underlying truths of books like The Secret and Creative Visualisation, but we’re focusing on the other side of the equation – we’re asking ourselves;
“What of value do we have that we can freely give?”
And what we have is the ability, passion and drive to teach yoga, so we’re going to start our own state of flow by launching Prana Flow Yoga classes at Pump Dance Studios in Wellington. And we’re going to offer them freely. That is, we’re going to offer up as much value as we can within our classes, and let our students decide what the classes are worth to them, based on their experience, their budget, their means.
So when people ask us, How much do classes cost? We’ll reply;
“You decide! What’s the class worth to you?”
We’re both so excited about being able to teach these classes to the public. Having our own classes at our own venue means we can create the kind of experience we want – from 75 minute long classes to cups of tea afterward. It means anyone can come to our classes – and I mean anyone – there is no financial barrier to learning yoga.
After class, students simply place payment into a box outside the yoga room – no set price, choose your own value.
We have a few reasons for doing this, and most people we’ve mentioned it to have attempted to dissuade us for a few reasons of their own.
So, why are we offering yoga classes at student-determined prices?
1. Letting students set the price of classes removes the financial barrier to practicing yoga.
It means anyone, regardless of whether they’re homeless, on a benefit, a student, a family on one wage or just in debt up to their eyeballs can come to our classes.
Never again in Wellington will we hear, “Yoga? I’d love to go, but I can’t afford it.”
That is not true anymore. You can afford it, and it’s happening at Pump Dance Studios as of the week February 16th.
Cue worried looks from friends accompanied by frowns. “But won’t this mean you’ll end up teaching for next to nothing? People will just put in a gold coin, or skive off without paying anything.”
Well no – I don’t believe they will. But as a teacher, my focus is not on what I can get for my services, but on what value I can offer. I trust that the other side of the equation will be taken care of. Flow is the natural state of the Universe after all… and by giving, Taisuke and I create flow.
2. Pricing our classes like this means Taisuke and I are practicing yoga in how we teach as well as what we teach.
Taking this course of action means we get to practice detachment – to give with expectation is not to give at all. It means we get to practice faith, and trust, and to experience selfless giving. It’s an exciting feeling!
3. It’s a social experiment.
How will people respond? Until we do this, we won’t know. As I mentioned earlier, some people are frightened for us – that we’ll get ripped off and won’t make any money. Well, being frightened is living in fear and that’s not conducive to abundance, or even the type of world I’d like to see.
So one of the reasons for doing this is to provide a model for others to emulate. Will it “work”? I guess it depends what “success” looks like. I want to see our classes full of people having a wonderful time discovering the magic of yoga, people coming back week after week and telling their friends and family about it. That’s success to me. And again, I trust that the other side of the equation will be taken care off – not necessarily directly even, but in a myriad of other ways.
I truly believe the more each and every one of us freely offers what we have of value to the world, the more blessed and abundant ALL of us will be. This is our step in that direction.
4. It’s about leading the way.
If I want to see a different society, where people share and give and look after each other because we all feel connected, I need to live that way. I can’t be concerned or fearful about my own personal financial security and let that stop me from being the change I want to see.
Now, I also happen to have a well-paying day job which means I am not dependent upon these classes to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. This does give me the luxury of experimentation. And this is precisely why I am doing it – if I’m fortunate enough to be in this position, I want to use it. And ideally, eventually, I won’t necessarily have a day job and will be free to teach far more yoga in this particular way. (It’s something I’m already using with my one-on-one students.)
5. Doing what everyone else does is boring!
This was something that Taisuke mentioned – how excited he was about launching yoga classes as seva because it was uncharted territory for him. He’s done paying classe before and knows how they work and what happens. This is new. It’s unexplored. (At leats, for us, I know many other yoga teachers and studios teach in this manner!)
Life is such an incredible journey, but it’s very easy to stick to the well-marked, well-lit, well-patrolled path because it’s safe, with plenty of good eateries and ample lodging… yet humans by their very nature are explorers. We’ve already explored explored much of our physical world, and we’re even out in space now. We’re exploring the quantum and scientific world in greater and greater depth all the time. This type of exploration that Taisuke and I are embarking on is a metaphsyical one – it is essentially yogic. And yoga is the science of life.
It’s not hard to feel despondent about the world and where we’re all at when you turn on the TV or open a newspaper. Especially when you know that we are all creators and collectively we create this world experience. Yoga seeks to look within to understand how we create our own experience, so that one can then begin to create something else, and in doing so effect change in the world.
“The practice of Yoga is, really, the practice of the art of living. It is not any mystical doctrine of any section of people, it is not a creed or a cult but a system of living, a system which is of such a universal character that no one can afford to forgo it.
It is the science of the basic structure of the human individual in its relationships with all that exists, whether in Society or in Nature outside; and from this point of view we may say that the practice of Yoga is the practice of the art or the science of public living in its principal sense.”
I love that – it’s about us in relationship to all, the science of public living… And in relationship to the world, and in public living, Taisuke and I want to encourage people to give freely of what the have of value, trusting in the flow of life.
Bring it on!
Read the results of the experiment in this article: How much is a yoga class worth to you?
*The word “seva” means ‘together with’ and describes those actions that seek collective upliftment through an understanding of the needs of others, and are based on togetherness and integration. Seva is an expression of compassion, of the desire to uplift and assist people.