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As a prospective teacher, one of the perks of going to training — and a way that it made financial sense to me looked like this: I spent over $1,000 on yoga each year. Training was $10K — so if I practiced for 10 years, training would pay for itself, since practicing wherever I go would be free!

Now as a studio owner (and as a teacher in the hot room all the time) I look at things differently.

We regularly have visiting teachers come to the studio, particularly in the summer since the Cape is such a destination location. Currently we provide class for free to these visiting teacher as a kind of professional courtesy.

But should class for visiting teachers be free?

A teacher should teach through her/his practice and, by embodying these ideas (and others), a teacher “earns” his/her free class and provides value for the students and studio.

  1. Discipline. One of the main tenants of the yoga is self control. ABOVE ALL, a teacher should show students HOW TO PRACTICE.
  2. Inspire. I’ve had students come up to me after class and say how they were tired or struggling and that I lifted them up through my practice. As a visiting teacher, you can encourage struggling students either by sitting down and showing a struggling student it is OK to sit down or by being strong for a student when she/he needs some encouragement.
  3. Depth. Some teachers (not all) have the depth of the postures that many students can only conceive of as some kind of magic. Really, what this is for most teachers is the product of years of hard work. These teachers can show students what is possible through the practice. Furthermore, by sharing with the students how they got to where they are in the practice, it can provide a road map for a student to do the same in her/his practice.
  4. Karma yoga. A visiting teacher should offer to help. There’s always towels to fold, floors or mirrors to wipe. As a visitor who enjoyed a free class, look around and — if you see an opening — just start helping or offer to help.

It’s been 20 years since Bikram started training teachers. Say what you will about the quality of the teachers (in a separate post)!  It does’t really matter WHEN you trained — much more important is HOW you trained and how you carry yourself at the studio  (it seems a new monkey wrench in this subject will be WHERE you trained since Bikram training is going away and many new teachers are coming up through other training)

Ultimately what it comes down to for me is whether a teacher GIVES back to the studio and the students or TAKES and does nothing for the studio or the students.

What do you think: should visiting teachers get free/complimentary classes when they visit studios?