How Does Free Yoga Help Our Financial Goals?
Yoga is what grounds me. It keeps me from falling off the deep end of my thoughts. It curbs stress, annihilates anxiety and makes me centered, focused, and at peace.
My yoga studio offers free classes in exchange for receptionist work, so I staff the check-in desk for 30 minutes once a week. I register my fellow yogis for class, collect their money, ask if they want a mat, mop the studio floor, and take out the trash after class. And then on Monday nights, I take the big trash barrel for the studio out to the curb and net myself another free class. In addition to free yoga, this is a practice in humility that I need in my daily life.
Yoga is, for me, a perfect frugal exercise. Not only because I’m able to take classes for free, but because I can practice yoga anywhere, anytime. Yoga doesn’t require fancy equipment, expensive clothes, or, really much of anything at all. It’s pretty much just you and your body. A mat is recommended but super cheap. Both Mr. FW and I use this $20 mat from Amazon (affiliate link), but any cheapo mat will do just fine.
While I adore the health benefits of yoga, what I’m most thankful for is how it focuses my mind. When I’m practicing yoga, I am in it. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m not stressed or distracted or planning. I am sweating it out and concentrating on my breathing. I push myself to go deeper and work harder every time I’m on my mat, so I don’t have room in my brain for tertiary, unrelated, negative thoughts.
Believe it or not, Mr. FW sometimes practices with me. This gives us a shared understanding of how to translate the lessons of yoga to our frugal journey to financial independence. This clarity of mind enables us to make frugal decisions year after year without losing steam. Without this focus, I have to imagine we’d fall victim to lifestyle inflation and negative thinking about all that we don’t have. Financial independence is not a passing goal for us, it’s THE goal. And yoga helps us get there.
Because I’m a list-lover and I have a lot to say about yoga, I made you this list of why yoga is great and everyone should do it:
- Yoga relieves stress and teaches a singularity of focus and clarity of mind.
- It’s exercise in disguise. It is so enjoyable for me that I don’t think about it as exercise for exercise’s sake. It’s entertainment!
- No decisions time. When I practice yoga, it’s my no decisions time. I don’t over-think my poses, I don’t obsess over how advanced I am in a posture or whether I’m sweating more or less than the person next to me. It’s a true break for my mind.
- You can come as you are. Yoga is not a judgmental exercise regimen. Yoga teachers (good ones anyway) don’t push students to compete with one another. They don’t pass judgement on your poses and they don’t encourage you to “burn that fat” or “bust that booty.” Rather, they encourage you to breathe deeply and focus on the reasons why you’re on your mat. I love that–it’s so simple and so perfect: why are you on your mat? Why did you decide to practice today?
- Any skill level can participate. While there are extremely advanced yoga positions that look impossible, if not improbable, yoga is a completely approachable practice. There are central tenets and positions that anyone can do. Even sitting in chair one can practice yogic breathing, meditation, and presence of mind.
- The value of a mantra. Most yoga practices ask that you set a personal intention or mantra at the beginning of each class. This is a word or phrase or person that you want to dedicate your practice to and center your thoughts on. I almost always use the phrase “patience and gratitude,” which for me encapsulates what I hope to accomplish every day: patience with others and my own shortcomings, patience for the three years we have before early retirement, and extensive gratitude for the many blessings I have in my life.
I practice a heated Vinyasa flow power yoga, with classes that are 90 minutes long and in 100-degree heat. This is a fairly intense form of yoga and if you’re brand new, I recommend that you try an unheated class first. There are a multitude of different styles and philosophies of yoga, which is wonderful–everyone can find a niche that works for them. Additionally, free yoga classes are available in many cities through the parks department, the public library, or the YMCA. If all else fails, there’s always free yoga on the internet!
Have you practiced yoga before? What do you love or hate about it?
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I love yoga, but I don’t want to spend the crazy amount of money it costs to do it at a studio around here, and I am not good enough in my poses to do it on my own. Every once in awhile I splurge on studio yoga and then I learn more and more, so hopefully one day I can learn enough to guide my own practice.
Yeah, I too was disenchanted with how expensive studio yoga is and so was very thankful to get this volunteer receptionist gig. Online, yoga.com has great offerings–photos of poses and free videos. Their tutorials could help you ramp up your home practice if you’re interested. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I know this is an old comment, but I wanted to chime in and say I found a great (and free!) YouTube channel called Yoga with Adriene, where in addition to regular yoga routines, she has a series of videos that breaks down the components of each individual pose. I used to think I had to spend money on studio classes to be sure I was doing the poses right, but she gives you physical cues (what muscles you are supposed to be feeling a stretch in, how to easily check your alignment based on which toes you can see, etc.) that I found helped me with difficult poses even more than studio classes. Even my husband who has always been a gym-rat and staunchly anti-yoga does Adriene’s videos three times a week now.
I’ve never practiced Yoga, but I have thought about it in the past…I’ve got another question as a newer Frugal Woods follower. I’ve seen a few pics of you guys so far, but you never show your faces…what’s the deal guys? Show us a smile!
Try yoga :)! Good question on the photos–you’ve discovered our secret: we don’t have faces :)!! No, we’re just blogging anonymously for the time being and so don’t want to reveal TOO much about who we are. We’re not trying to hide anything, it’s just our personal preference since we’re both still working FT. Always feel free to email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about details of our lives that we haven’t shared on the blog. Thanks for asking!
Hey, no faces, no way, cool! lol! I definitely understand the blogging anonymously idea. There are some drawbacks to it, but keep up the good work and you or frugal hub won’t have to worry about working too long…Hey, you’re an MVP nomination this week by the way! The post is going live soon!
Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! We are so honored!
Whoa, I would seriously break my back doing those kind of moves! 😀
I’ve never done any actual yoga, so can’t really tell if it’s for me or not. Isn’t it hard to concentrate and focus on yourself for such a long time? I think I’m too much of a thinker – see what I did there – to spend an hour or so with only my thoughts. My brain would go on and on about stuff and I’d feel restless afterwards.
Great pictures, even without your faces! Keeps it mysterious!
You’d be fine, just start slow and easy (do NOT do that wheel pose first time out!) Funny you should mention the thinking thing–I have a VERY active mind (you could say hyper) and so I need yoga to calm and balance myself. It’s an effort for me to be in the moment, but honestly, yoga is so challenging that I’m usually combating some form of physical pain, which helps keep my mind in check. It’s meditating while doing extremely difficult physical exercise. Don’t I make it sound so appealing ;)?
Physical pain, lots of challenge, … Sounds like a dream hobby! 😉
I’ll try a YouTube class this weekend, just to see if it’s for me. Let’s hope yoga can calm my brain too!
Yay! Let me know how it goes for you!
I’ve done yoga twice… and it was hilarious to watch (I imagine). I’m tall, and a bit clumsy, so I’d actually benefit greatly from it, but until I got the hang out it I would feel so ridiculous 🙂 Plus, all the yoga places here are super expensive, and it’s mostly all about hot yoga. I don’t want to stand near someone else’s funky body… I might need to give it another shot, to stretch out after run days.
Don’t feel ridiculous! That’s the great thing about yoga, no one is looking at you or judging you (or at least they shouldn’t be–you can tell them I told you so :)). I do love my hot yoga and I’ve gotten used to the funk (though it can get pretty funk-tified). During my brief time as a runner, yoga felt even more amazing! Dooooo iiiitttt 🙂
I LOVE yoga!!! Me and FB Hubby try to practice it as much as possible, which is usually from home and with a free video we found on Amazon Prime. I work on my computer non-stop and I know it is not good for my body to be in this position as much as it is. When I practice yoga, I just feel everything working itself out, and it is such an awesome feeling. The great thing about yoga too, is that after you have practiced enough, you really don’t need a class or video, you can just do the poses yourself at your own pace.
Yay fellow yogi! Great tip on the free Amazon Prime video–I’ll have to check that out. Yes, love the feeling of everything working itself out! And, love doing self-guided practice anytime I want.
Those are some impressive poses! I took a Yoga class back in college one summer, and I really loved it. The class was first thing in the morning, and really helped to set the tone for the day. I haven’t been able to pick it back up since, even though I keep saying I want to. My boyfriend practiced some moves back in college for cross country stretching, so I should just tell him to join me in following along with videos. If I could get classes in exchange for receptionist work, I’d be all for it, but they are rather expensive.
Thank you! I did a 6am yoga class during grad school and it was amazing. You’re completely right about it setting the tone for the day. I’ve switched to evening classes now, but there was something special about starting the day on my mat.
Most yoga classes are super expensive, which is really too bad. My studio also offers free classes in exchange for data entry and studio cleaning–maybe something near you would have a similar system?
My wife is really into the Yoga. I would love to do it… but at home. I’m not much for the whole “watch me struggle while trying to stretch in public” thing. Of course, I know no one is actually watching me. To find my zen, I take bike rides and play with our two dogs. Seriously. If I need to think, I will just go in the backyard and mindlessly throw the ball from end to end. I will say, I do hope my wife can wrangle up some sweet deal like you’ve found. She bounces around based upon the location of the studio and the deals on groupon.
Agreed, bike rides and dogs are wonderful outlets–though usually not in unison. I hope your wife can find a good yoga gig. I do appreciate the consistency of the same studio and the fact that I’ve gotten to know the teachers and students well. And do try some yoga at home! Mr. FW was adamantly against it… until he went to his first class 🙂
Thanks for sharing! I’ve really been into fitness and have been gaining a lot of muscle while also boosting my cardiovascular system and being healthier overall. I’ve considered yoga but haven’t done it yet. As a guy, I just have this pre-conceived fear that I’d be looked at weird for being possibly the only male in the yoga studio. Unfortunately our media/culture has given me the view that yoga is more for women and I know that’s not the case. From your experience (or perhaps other commenters), have you seen a fair amount of men taking yoga and even excelling at it at your studio?
I know it’s a stupid hesitancy I have and I know that there are countless benefits to yoga so I hope to just get my butt in there and stop making excuses.
Kudos to you on gaining muscle & being fit! I completely agree with you that it’s a shame our culture casts yoga as a gendered exercise–it’s not! My studio is probably 80% women and 20% men. There are dudes in every class and male teachers too. Plenty of guys come at all levels of physical fitness and ability (very advanced yogis to beginners). You might be in the minority at a studio, but the ethos of yoga (in a good studio) is to welcome everyone. I’m pretty sure you won’t be the only guy either–Mr. FW is certainly not the token dude in our classes.
While this is unkind, my FAVORITE is the super muscly guys who come in all like “oh yoga, this is EASY, I’m doing this on my OFF day” and then…. they’re lying on the floor in a puddle of sweat after 10 mins because they don’t take it seriously and didn’t pace themselves. Heated power yoga is a true workout. I’ve had more guys come out to the desk needing emergency gatorade because they didn’t come into class with an open mind–they came to show off.
All that to say, if you go to a class with an honest willingness to learn and work hard, you will have a great time. Let me know how it goes for you!
P.S. Sorry for that mini-rant, clearly I feel strongly about this :)!
Thanks for the reply! Aboslutely. The big muscly “bros” are the main reason I AVOID my gym during the peak after work hours of 4:30-7:30 pm. Big dudes grunting, yelling, and checking themselves out in the mirror is a huge pet peeve of mine. Those dudes may have big muscles, but overall they’re not fit at all. They couldn’t run a quarter mile to save their life, the still have a flabby gut, and they have zero flexibility. What they do have, though, is a huge ego!
So yep, I’m certainly down for yoga as I’m looking to become fit all around. And, I’m admittedly a type A person and I find myself stressing out and worrying about things really for no reason so yoga will be a fantastic healthy and natural way to help me fight these unecessary stresses.
I’ll drop by the yoga studio in my gym next week and try to make it a habit. Ha, my next biggest concern is that I’ll get into some pose or stretch and get or pull a muscle. “Ouch! Um…a little help please!” haha
Oops. Meant to say, “I’ll get into some pose or stretch and get stuck or pull a muscle.”
Hey you will GET some muscle too! 🙂
“Bros!” Yes, that’s the term I was looking for! You know who I’m talking about!
I’m excited for your first yoga class! And don’t push yourself too hard, take it slow and do what feels right. Also, not all yoga classes/studios/teachers are created equal and, unfortunately, they’re not uniformly terrific. If you don’t get a good vibe, try a different teacher or studio. Let me know how it goes!
I have never done yoga before but my guess is that I would benefit from it. I’m a high-stress person!
I’m a recovering/rehabilitating high-stress person and yoga is a major factor in my ability to reduce anxiety. I still get stressed out, but yoga truly does calm me down.
I have never done yoga, but I have a friend who just started and he really likes it. The fact that he likes it – someone in a similar job (and stress level) – makes me want to give it a shot one day. I’d probably just do it at home to start so I don’t embarrass myself at the studio 😉
Oh yay! I’m so glad you’re interested in trying it out. And you can definitely start at home–there are plenty of free resources and videos available online. Let me know how it goes for you!
Thanks for the reminder that yoga doesn’t have to break the bank! I agree 100% with all of the benefits you’ve listed. I’ve also suffered from high stress/anxiety and have always found yoga to be helpful.
Yoga is amazing :). Glad to hear you’ve also reaped the benefits!
I have a love/hate relationship with yoga. I’m more of the running around, passing a ball, being in a team sport with competition variety. BUT, yoga is seriously a true workout and can be a great way to relax. I just sometimes find it hard to stay focused and keep my mind intent on the positions at hand. Probably just means I need to dedicate more time to meditation and a yoga practice!
I am the WORST at sports w/a ball. Just ask every team I’ve ever been on. I played on the softball team at my last job and I think they were glad when I left the organization–I’m that bad. But I love team sports for the camaraderie! I just can’t catch, throw, hit, pass… you get the picture. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I have been doing Yoga for years, first with a very good book and then with classes at the Y. I prefer doing mine right before bedtime as I find the sleep afterward is very deep. It is a VERY frugal exercise to do with many benefits. It’s off and on right now with my practice of it but it shows when I haven’t done it in a while. My husband also started doing a small routine after his runs as a cool down/stretch and has found it improves his running.
Hooray fellow yoga lover!! I agree that a more restorative practice is a wonderful way to wind down to sleep. I recently took a Yoga Nidra class for the first time at my studio and it was deeply relaxing–primarily meditation with a little bit of stretching. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!
I should try yoga. I’m a pretty anxious person. Biking, hiking, body-wight exercises are what I do now and it all helps. Hmmm I really should.
I agree, I think all exercise helps alleviate anxiety, but, I gotta say, nothing clears my mind like yoga!
Just reading this article and the comments makes me want to do yoga and I’ve never done it. Seriously, I’m jumping on the floor now and doing some stretches.
Awesome! That makes me so happy! I hope you enjoy it–let me know how it goes!
I’ve been thinking about getting into yoga. So far, I’ve done a couple of free yoga tutorials online. I actually did one recently because I was feeling pretty stressed out and it really helped me to clear my mind for a while. I didn’t have a mat though – is that essential if you’re doing yoga at home? It’s definitely a frugal activity that’s of interest to me.
Glad to hear you’re enjoying trying it out! I don’t think a mat is essential for an at-home practice. Most studios require you to use one, and it’s helpful on a hard surface floor. But, you can absolutely practice without one. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Just came across this post. I’m new to your blog, but love it and I’m so happy to hear you love yoga! I’ve been practicing bikram yoga (also hot, 90 minute classes) for 9 years and you hit the nail on the head with all the reasons yoga is so fabulous. I have been referring people to your blog for frugality ideas, but now will also refer them to this post for reasons to practice yoga. 🙂
Thank you so much, Jessica! I love hearing from a fellow frugal yogi 🙂
I realize this is an old thread, but I comment as I recently discovered an awesome online yoga community that is high quality and FREE! It’s Yoga with Adriene and you can stream the videos on YouTube. This has been a huge change for me since I was shelling out $12/class and thus only practicing sporadically. Just thought you might enjoy it too now that your toggling the responsibilities of being mom to baby woods + writing + moving. Regardless, I hope you’ll find a way to continue your practice on the homestead!
Jane Fonda has created some great videos (available on Prime) for people seeking gentle exercise that isn’t yoga. I think it’s great to work in exchange work for free classes but that does not work for everyone. To me, time equals money. If someone earns more than $18.00 an hour, it is not wise to exchange your time to save $18.00 on a yoga class.