A few days ago, my monthly unlimited pass at yogaview expired. Intentionally, I did not renew the pass, although I do plan to return there soon to purchase another. But not too soon. It might be a week or two before I purchase another monthly unlimited. It might be a month. We’ll see.
I’m delaying for a few reasons. For those yogis out there who have also practiced on a monthly unlimited pass, these considerations might be relevant to you, too. If my reasoning is sound, perhaps you may also think twice about renewing that monthly pass the next time the bill is due.
Here are my reasons for not continuing my monthly unlimited pass.
1. It’s too expensive. At $150 a pop, the monthly unlimited pass at yogaview is one of the most expensive out there. This price point rivals monthly unlimited passes I’ve seen in NY and LA. It’s really difficult for me to justify paying this much money month after month, indefinitely. If my partner and I were both to do this pass (no, they don’t offer a couple’s discount), this would add up to a whopping $3600 a year on yoga. And this doesn’t include the cost of yoga mats, driving, parking, bus and El fare, etc.
2. I need a break. I have a tendency to overdo things. Sure, it can be good to bring intensity and dedication to what you do. But sometimes this can spill over into the realm of competitiveness, obsessiveness, and excessiveness. When it comes to yoga, this can lead to injury as well as an unhealthy psychological/emotional addiction to the “yoga high.” A monthly unlimited pass is prepaid, so there’s also that extra motivation to go to yoga constantly in order to get your money’s worth. I find myself forcing myself to go to class on days when maybe I should do something else — e.g., meditate, run, rest, etc. A monthly unlimited pass is like being at a yoga buffet. Yes, it’s nice to be able to go a lot. But there’s also the risk of overstuffing yourself, just because you can.
3. Self-Practice. One of the goals of a serious yogi should be to develop a self practice. This means learning to do yoga on your own, without the guidance of a teacher, and without a room full of other people doing the same thing. On and off, over the past few years, I have blogged about my own attempts at developing a self practice. At times, especially when I’ve dealt with injuries and could not handle a studio class, practicing at home has been relatively easy. Other times, it’s damn near impossible. When I have a monthly unlimited pass at a studio, I find that I make no attempts whatsoever to practice on my own. I don’t even consider it.
4. Variety. Yoga classes can be pretty much the same thing, over and over. Sun Salutations, vinyasas, handstands, backbends, Savasana. Don’t get me wrong, I love this stuff. But from both a fitness and yoga perspective, there’s just not enough variety offered at a standard yoga studio. I’m not talking about variety for the sake of variety. In terms of physical health, it’s pretty well established that yoga just does not provide the same cardiovascular challenge as, say, running or swimming. Even accomplished yogis like Sean Corne supplement their yoga practice with cardio exercise, and there really should be no shame in admitting that yoga is insufficient to be the totality of your physical fitness program. From a yoga/holistic perspective, too, a regular asana practice is just not enough. And let’s be honest — most mainstream yoga studios are all about asanas. Anything else that’s thrown in is just a taste, e.g., a light sprinkle of pranayama or meditation or chanting. Taking some time off from a monthly unlimited pass may allow you to branch out and try different forms of yoga, like Kundalini, which are less asana intensive. Or you can even venture outside the yoga world and learn the benefits of, say, Zen meditation, Qigong, or Tai Chi.
So, to summarize, my basic stance on monthly unlimited yoga passes is this: they’re a good thing, if you can use them responsibly. I plan to purchase a monthly unlimited pass pretty regularly, but I will try to take 2-4 weeks off in between each pass. This will allow me to spend time developing my self practice. It will also force me to expand my horizons, incorporating more than just asanas into my yoga practice.