Monday, September 06, 2021

Free Yoga as in Free Speech not as in Free Beer

My friend and fellow yogi, Evan, posted on the Cultivate Yoga Instagram account the following about the offerings we have at the Cultivate Yoga Space, our yoga studio:

At Cultivate, FREE YOGA does not only apply in the financial realm and how we have chosen to share our offerings to the community within a gift-based model. FREE YOGA also means that the yoga we offer is free from the constraints of western practices and eastern philosophies. FREE YOGA means we recognize that a true yoga practice is eternally evolving, perpetually in motion and is unique to each and every one of our students. FREE YOGA means that we recognize every student who chooses to practice with us is on their own journey and it is our most sacred duty to create space that will allow for that journey to flow freely with space for infinite exploration. FREE YOGA means that every one of our teachers holds the freedom to completely be themselves and show up how they need to on any given day for themselves and our students. FREE YOGA means that each class we offer is unique, each student we serve is unique and each teacher who serves with us is unique - and when all of these elements align in their authenticity, an infinite FREEDOM occurs. This is FREE YOGA. Click on the link in our bio to learn more about our gift-based model.

In a previous incarnation I was very involved in the open source, free software community. There are several types of licenses that govern free and open source software and one of the more famous one is the Gnu Public License or the GPL. The GPL is the prime example of FREE software. Similar to Evan's post above, you may have paid for your software but it is still free because this "free" refers to liberty. To quote the Free Software Foundation:

“Free software” means software that respects users' freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer”. We sometimes call it “libre software,” borrowing the French or Spanish word for “free” as in freedom, to show we do not mean the software is gratis.

This concept of free or freedom is the concept Evan is evoking, that Cultivate Yoga is freedom as in Libre, not as in Gratis. In fact we expect that if you can afford it you should be donating or gifting to Cultivate Yoga a minimum of 10 per class. In many other studios around our city, you have to buy passes to get to $10 per class. In some cases, drop in prices are in excess of $20 per class.

I am stressing minimum for a reason. Cultivate Yoga Space is operated by Cultivate Yoga a 501c3 non-profit charity. The mission of Cultivate Yoga is "...serve our community by removing barriers that prevent individuals from accessing their yoga practice" be those barriers of social status, physical ability or financial standing. So if you are in a situation where you want to practice yoga at Cultivate Yoga Space but do not have the financial wherewithal to pay, your are most welcome to practice completely Gratis. For those that can afford class, paying extra allows Cultivate Yoga to extend those gratis classes to anyone that needs them.

You might think, we are in Avon, there is nobody here like that, everybody can afford it. Let tell you a story.

In my mid thirties, I left corportate America and started my own company. I put everything in it. Money, blood, sweat and tears. In the end, the company failed, I was in debt and didn't have a job. Poor credit rating made things even more difficult, I had to start rebuilding my credit by using a secured credit card for 2+ years. My wife worked in the stocking room of target for minimum wage so that we could have enough to cover everything. There are so many things my kids had to do without because we didn't have the finanical wherewithal to do or buy those things. In many ways, I felt so ashamed of this situation.

However, I never would have gone to yoga because I couldn't afford it. The only reason I could go to a gym is because I eventually was hired by Hyland Software that had a gym on site. It was years before I could afford the "extra" things and at the time yoga would have been "extra".

To be fully transparent, I'm not sure if I would have gone to Cultivate Yoga at that time even if it was free for those that need it - I would have put a few dollars in the donation box so people wouldn't pick up on that I wasn't paying. I would have been ashamed at that.

But I also would have been grateful to not have to pay the $10 every time and for the inexpensive welcoming option to take yoga.

This is why we ask that you pay a minimum of $10 per class. We want to be "profitable" so not only can those who are financially or otherwise challenged can take yoga with us, but so that we can fund working with inner Cleveland Schools like John Marshall High School ( and other organizations such as the Scranton Road Ministries(See their website: Scranton Road Ministries), the Providence House We want to be able to fund all of those things, fund grant writers so we can do even bigger, more impactful activities that cultivates yoga in our community. For the list our past activities see Cultivate Yoga's Service page

It is Libre Yoga not Gratis Yoga, unless you need it to be gratis.

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