After a phenomenal summer of road trips, teacher trainings, festivals, surfing, climbing, biking, and recently returning from big walls in Yosemite and a YogaSlackers reunion in Estes Park, I can honestly say this has been one of the best seasons of my life.
El Cap Tower, Yosemite CA
The journey began in May with a cross-country road trip from NYC to California for the YogaSlackers first-ever teacher training. A bit of panic set in when I checked my bank account and saw that the balance was just under $300, hardly enough to cover gas even one way cross-country.
First - go to the most expensive city in the world and teach, teach, teach.
first YogaSlackers slackline workshop in Japan (Gibbon approved)
Now ordinarily my bank account could come relatively close to accommodating the additional funds owed for taxes however I had spent the winter of 2011 living in Rincon, Puerto Rico surfing and teaching yoga for very little money and in many cases forms of food (like mangos) or services donated by students who were tight on funds.
This financial dilemma seems to be a scenario that many yoga teachers ultimately face- teach (a lot) for money and be able to pay your bills or teach to give back, live simply and see what manifests? Hopefully one day there will be a happy medium but in the meantime I constantly wonder: how necessary is money? In reality, it is just paper… and while there are many benefits to having it, is money a true necessity?
Because none of us made much money working in Rincon we all had a system of trading with each other for what we needed. From bodywork & yoga classes to food, clothes, surf board repairs and rides to the airport this community found a way to get by spending very little. In a way it was a simple practice of karma where whatever is given out is then returned in a new shape and form.
In Japan a similar financial exchange occurred as we all worked really hard, earned lots of money and then spent lots of money on the sheer act of living in Japan. Only trouble was that working all the time could get pretty exhausting and it was hard to find time to do the things you really wanted to do. While there was some work to be done in Rincon, it earned only enough money to get by in many circumstances and rather then working more to earn a couple extra bucks it made sense to just help each other out since we had plenty of free time, especially when there were no waves.
Because many of our friends in Rincon were tight on money, the “mango discount” was instated for my Sunday classes and workshops where locals could pay by donation or just bring a mango from one of the nearby trees in exchange for class. Of course all forms of food were included in this and as a result the class turned into a potluck afterwards with students bringing amazing food and even clothes to share and swap with each other after class.
Aloha Yoga post class clothing swap potlucks
The community of our little outdoor yoga studio grew and we started hanging out after class, surfing and cooking together in our spare time. It was a strong reminder that happiness remains in the simple stuff- the journey, the experience and the people we share it with. What’s truly valuable is very rarely justified by it’s worth in dollars (or yen) and sometimes the best form of payment is eating a whole bunch of mangoes with good friends… and thankfully, we don’t have to pay taxes on that.
Rincon, Puerto Rico ~ where sunset surf sessions are truly priceless
photo by Ben Fullerton / www.fullertonimages.com
And if you are wondering about that cross country road trip and how we covered gas costs… my friend Ryan (who was driving with me and also owns a design & silk screening studio in Rincon) and I designed a t-shirt to sell on our road trip at workshops and events where I was teaching. The YogaSlackers one love // one planet limited edition t-shirt sold enough to cover the cost of our gas cross-country and then we put extra funds into an account for the new 2011 YogaSlackers teacher trainees to help cover their gas money to go out and teach slackline workshops – keep an eye out for them, they are some of the most talented slackers we’ve ever seen!
one love // one planet shirt and some of our first supporters at the Surf Bar, Brooklyn NYC.
thanks to all who supported the cause
Hope you enjoy the journey and keeping slacking for mangoes and whatever else makes you happy...
Not to suggest that you should completely ward off a source of financial income but if you want to teach for mangos and try the YogaSlacker’s guide to living on a budget here are some tips (Thanks to the YogaSlackers teacher training grads for their input):
* try to go a day without spending any money on food (advanced slackers - try a week or month). Use up food in your fridge / pantry and plan a potluck with friends for variety. If you live in a climate where you can grow your own food, compose a dish made entirely from local ingredients.
* go outside when you are looking to do something with your free time. Practice yoga in a park, go for a run or bike ride, slackline, surf, climb a tree (or rock face). Not only are most activities outdoors free of cost they are also usually beneficial to your health allowing you to be active, breathe fresh air and receive exposure to sunlight that helps combat depression and improve sleep.
· plan a clothing / gear swap with friends to clean out your closet of what you don’t need. This is always a great idea just to minimize the stuff you are holding on to as it will literally make you feel lighter to get rid of what you’re not using. These swaps yield unusual treasures that will hopefully also remind you of the person who gave them to you.
· *try to use human-powered transport as much as possible walk/run/bike/climbing up mountains to ski down for travel and avoid gas using cars (again outdoors/health theme)
· *get comfortable camping or build network of friends with couches when traveling…there are many tips on how to find great places to sleep for free on public lands, NFS, BLM, etc.
· *learn how to fix / repair things, sewing, bike, car repair/ maintenance, when many things break or wear out it is a particular part that needs replacing calling the manufacturer has led to me getting replacement parts sent to me for free.