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Is This Living Social Deal for Half Off Yoga Teacher Training Awesome Or Gross?

in Business of Yoga, For Teachers


We have reached the age of yoga teacher training online deals and we’re not sure we like it. Skimming through a pile of emails thick with holiday sales and promotions, this popped out at us, alongside the drag show and dinner for two and above the 20 units of botox offer, a deal for 50 percent off yoga teacher training – a $4000, 200hr yoga teacher training for $1999 if you can put it on your credit card right now.

Initial reaction: Yikes, really? A Living Social deal for yoga teacher training? Way to cheapen it, folks.

Then…HALF OFF?? What a bargain! Yoga teacher training already seems so expensive and now it’s affordable, maybe even FREE with this special deal. That’s typically unheard of.

Then…but does that devalue the training? Does it make it seem like it’s not even really worth the $4000 original price? Plus any old schmoe can buy the deal without any kind of application process. Is that the kind of non-discerning yoga training we’d want to invest in? To be fair, this is a small business (not a major studio) so maybe they need the extra boost to beat the big guys. But we know how these deals hardly earn any money for the businesses, so we assume this teacher training is barely making enough to cover their overhead.

More info from the actual deal: (NOTE: We’ve removed the names.)

The student becomes the master with this deal from ____ — home to NYC’s “most in-demand yoga instructor,” according to New York Magazine:

• $1,999 ($4,000 value) for a three-month yoga teacher certification program
• Includes 200 hours of instruction, job-placement assistance + one-month unlimited yoga classes
• After 3 months, you’ll be a Registered Yoga Teacher accredited by Yoga Alliance

This Talented Teacher Has Been in Men’s Health & Access Hollywood 
The spiritually nourishing education includes studying the history of the ancient healing art, learning the lingo and vocabulary, practicing moves in the studio, and developing yourself as a spiritual guide. Throughout this intensive education, you will also have full access to all yoga classes on offer, so you can refine your technique and become more acquainted and comfortable with the practice. When you finish, the friendly professionals will help you land a gig at a studio in the city.

PAID VALUE EXPIRES ON December 10, 2018


This is not a criticism of the training itself, we haven’t experienced it, it’s about the approach that feels a little desperately mass marketed. Maybe it’s the wave of the future to cut through the crowd and we have to get used to it, but something about this just feels so ick and wrong. Also, that helping you get a gig thing sounds great but is likely a bunch of rubbish. Unfortunately, NYC is a sea of yoga teachers looking for gigs.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts!



34 comments… add one
  • Anne

    In my mind, this is another data point that indicates there are too many yoga studios in NYC.

    Did you reach out to the studio for a comment? It would be interesting to hear their perspective.

  • J

    Maybe you’ve all gotten too used to the idea that yoga has to be expensive.

  • Lisa Starr

    The student becomes the Master after only 200 hours of training?

    • Jenifer

      No, student becomes eligible to register as a teacher with yoga alliance after only 200 hrs of training.

  • Michele

    I do not think it devalues the training. If anything it opens up more opportunity to those who have a love/passion for yoga, but may not be financially able to spend large amounts of money on the training. The purpose of yoga is is to connect with your deeper self. There is always room growth and more…there is always enough pieces in the pie. So whether it’s free/donation or $25 a class it’s all about serving others and sharing the love and light that yoga gives to people. There is no room for spiritual snobbery in the practice of yoga. So, if it’s on LivingSocial, Groupon, what have you it’s irrelevant. It’s a blessing the universe has given.

  • Cat

    Its not the discounted cost of the training that disturbs me here. If instructors want to run specials on their trainings, that’s great, yoga doesn’t have to be expensive, but accepting just anyone with a credit card without any kind of interview paves the way for qualifying sub-par teachers. A reputable school with a serious teacher will want to evaluate prospective students to ensure that their skill levels, attitudes, and practices are appropriate for the dissemination of a profound tradition. Yoga is FAR more than just the physical postures and not everyone is a good fit for the role of leading others deeper into it. Moreover, people can and do hurt themselves during yoga (as is the risk with any physical activity) and it’s important that teachers be qualified to lead people into SAFE practice. I get that yoga has become a business, but using marketing methods that lessen the integrity of the tradition can’t be the answer.

    • I agree. The discounted cost is the least of the problem with this training, at least as it is advertised. I don’t mind the concept of giving discounts to committed students who truly couldn’t afford a training otherwise, but to offer a discount to anyone regardless of whether he/she has ever stepped onto a mat, let alone has any idea what Yoga is about is one more glaring example of how the U.S. has dumbed down Yoga for the sake of profits. The idea that one can be a yoga teacher in three months is a disservice to yoga and to the handful of dedicated teachers out there who really do know what they’re doing.

  • jessica

    Unfortunately I think many studios will take on anyone willing to pay for teacher training. While I am not a trained yoga teacher, I hear that the process of training is usually pretty rigorous…Or at least at my studio it is. So I’m thinking those who take this living social deal up without doing their research first will probably make it through.
    As for the discounted price — I think it’s great for those who have been considering teacher training and have been held back by the cost.

    • Hi Jessica,

      I am a many-times-0ver “certified yoga teacher” and I can tell you from experience that teacher training in American Studios is largely a profit-oriented scam that preys mostly on idealistic young women, and is anything but rigorous. EVERYBODY who coughs up the money get “certified.” No standards, no performance evaluations that you can actually fail, no serious evaluations of any kind. A 200 hour TTC is in fact simply an introduction to asana as exercise, with a little yoga, and if you are lucky, a little Ayurveda, thrown in for good measure. While they may provide a wonderful, even “life-changing” experience for the participant and involve a lot of work (not the same as rigorous), they in no way produce anyone qualified to teach Yoga, or even asana, to others. I personally did not begin teaching anyone until I had more than a thousand hours of training, but then I didn’t take these courses in order to teach in the first place, and I didn’t take them from Studios, but rather individuals in American and India with 30 or more years of experience. 2,000 for one of these studio trainings is still overpriced.

  • I’m sure they’ll be teaching Viparita Dandasana (pictured pose) to each and every newcomer who’s never practiced yoga before!

  • Semper Fi

    Once upon a time students who wanted to learn a discipline had to show their willingness to learn. Often times, the teacher would ignore them for one year. If you’ve ever seen the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you would understand this process. In the continuum there are five star sushi restaurants and there is convenient store sushi. As a consumer which would you rather eat?

    • Boodiba

      Well you know… There’s room for all kinds, I guess. I wouldn’t trade my experience of learning for anyone else’s. At the same time I have to admit that I’ve been injured more often by Guruji certified teachers (and we’re not talking merely authorized, but CERTIFIED) more than others with less impressive credentials. Which just goes to show you that accumulating skill & credentials does not necessarily impart the ability to teach without the ego leading the way. “I am so damned smart I cannot possibly make a bad, thoughtless decision” or “I’m so great I’m going to be the first one to make your body do XYZ, today, even though I don’t know you or your practice.”

  • Jade

    That’s half off double the price. Awesome!

  • studio website lists price as $4200. Click on paypal shows price as $3600.

  • paul

    Most of my education was subsidized by taxpayers; I’m unsure how subsidized by luck or wandering the marketplace (which is what the collective of ads on the coupon sites are part of) is different. $21 an hour (or $10 with the deal or $7.50 each for four friends) for group class with professionals, plus certification and networking, isn’t expensive if the teachers are competent. At the very least research, and test your would-be teacher if you can and if they pass then submit.

  • Maria

    yoga should be free for everyone 🙂

    • Jenifer

      Because there are no expenses tied with providing yoga instruction?

  • Well, my guess is someone said to the guy, “This is a great idea, you should try it” and says, “Sure, whatever you say” and then his deal winds up on Living Social with no real knowledge of the seemingly mass-marketed mumbo jumbo that it is…

  • Teacher trainings drive the economic engine for many studios. Studios are *desperate* for enrollees and giving people an experience is often more important than cultivating excellence in practice and teaching.

    • VQ2-+

      Gresham’s Law meets yoga teacher training. Next thing you know, selling YTT becomes a shady, untraceable exchange using Bitcoin.

      Just try to sue if you or your students get injured.

  • S.

    I just researched this teacher. She makes claims that she has been on Regis and Kathy Lee, but when you click on the video it just shows some homemade VHS clip of oddly similar quality to the video in “The Ring” of her teaching some guy shoulder stand without blankets (danger! danger!). This deal smacks of scam.

  • My first reaction is pretty negative – the training I did valued itself on obtaining students who really wanted to put time, money, and effort into getting the best possible training and seeking out a training that didn’t just fit their wallet, but also fit their aspirations, teaching style, lifestyle, etc. I think that’s what creates a truly great teacher is when he/she is willing to seek out a training that fits them personally and doesn’t look at the cost as the sole reason to purchase (which is what I believe these “deals” are truly about). But I understand that many people have dreams to be a certified instructor and simply don’t have the kind of cash required to get most of the trainings out there, so this is a reasonable option in that regard.

  • As part of our company offerings we deliver 200 hr YA certified TT programs at an affordable price as low as $675. Cost covers space rental, books and guest presenters. Our principals donate 144 hours as we continue to develop a strong community of teachers who are encouraged to also give back. We believe in a movement towards one-on-one teaching. There is no studio overhead thereby making our model unique. We simply have a sincere interest in delivering trainings, often to those who may not be able to afford. And others who can afford but don’t need a Branded (dogma) attached to it. We teach how to teach and for the low price participants don’t have to work for a year to get their investment back.

    We are hopeful are model catches on and others join in with similar models or scholarships.

    • S.

      The lady on your “about” page is in a horrible baddha konasana. Her knees are well above her hips. Her groins are very tight in that position and would require height. I guess if you were a legit TT program you would know that…

      • Warren

        Stock photo on a budget! No posers . . . Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  • Warren

    our model (not “are”)

  • Christine

    I can’t believe i just came across this stupid and poorly written article. Since when did the price of a yoga teacher training indicate the value you will receive. So 2,000k cheap? In addition to all the books, travel expenses, etc., the student will incur. There are so many students who would be absolutely honor this chance. There are a million TT programs out there that average around 4k, go to a big name studio and you looking towards 6k…does that mean it’s better quality? They are all the same thing. It’s the first step towards being a teacher. You learn a little here and there. Maybe you connect with the trainer and she become your mentor for years to come…maybe not. Do we not live in the real world people…it’s called advertising. This teacher is making a living just like the rest of us and not everyone works for a big name studio…perhaps YOU may get even better training not going through YogaWorks, Sonic, etc…Bottom line is shame on you for discrediting a teachers program because a handful of slots were offered at a discount, and shame on you for potentially making any students who are currently in her program question the value.

  • Jade

    There is a “donation-based” yoga studio in California offering deals on Living Social & Groupon. DONATION-BASED. OFFERING. ONLINE. DEALS. What?!

    Background info on the studio (offered by instructors who used to teach at this “donation-based” yoga studio): the instructors pay to instruct there. The instructors are charged a fixed price for rent per timeslot, pay for the timeslots by the month, and pay a separate $200 yearly administrative fee per timeslot. The studio supposedly charges an extra $2-$3 bucks to pay from a bank account or an extra $8-$10 to pay from a credit card. When an instructor doesn’t receive enough in donations to cover the rent, the rest comes out of pocket – the instructor pays to instruct. Why be in a situation like that? It’s a well-known yoga studio owned by a well-known yoga instructor and some say it’s a way to start a career as a yoga instructor as you ride the coat tails of the yoga-lebrity owner. But at what cost? This “donation-based” studio uses a business model to run the studio that is set-up so the owner and managers are guaranteed income every month, not the instructors. The instructors are the ones who take all the risk because they are put into a position where they might not receive enough in donations to pay expensive rent. According to the studio owner, via a social media post, the average rent paid by the instructors is around $100 PER CLASS and the average donation offered per patron is $5.50. The suggested donation amount is $15 to $0. The paper schedule available at this studio says it’s okay to donate nothing. Yes, they tell patrons they can donate $0. That’s an easy thing for the studio owner to offer, when the owner has nothing to lose. The patrons are told it’s okay to donate nothing, and that’s what half of them do, according to instructors who taught there. But, for all the patrons know, they might think the studio pays the instructors a minimum and the “donation” is a “tip” (which is not the case at all). They don’t know because the public isn’t made aware of how it works.

    So, how does a “donation-based” studio offer a Living Social or Groupon deal? How does that work? According to a Q&A about their deal on Groupon, after purchasing a deal, it needs to be redeemed for a voucher booklet at the yoga studio’s front desk. Then the deal buyer/patron has to drop one voucher for each class they take in the donation box at the studio.

    How do the instructors – who pay rent – get paid? The instructors were likely told to redeem any vouchers they receive as a “donation” through management.

    Sounds like a decent deal for everyone, right? Not quite. Let’s do the math. The Living Social deal was $45 for 15 classes (at a “donation-based” studio that charges rent). That means each voucher was only worth 3 bucks. If this studio did a 50/50 split with Living Social, which is common, it’s possible the studio will pay the instructors only $1.50 or less per voucher (remember, Living Social kept the other $1.50 as their half of the 50/50 split). If an instructor has to pay the studio 100 bucks per 90-minute timeslot in rent, that means 67 people have to come to each class. And remember to bring a voucher. And remember to drop one in the donation box. Just so the instructor can pay the rent to the “donation-based” studio owner. 67 PEOPLE. JUST. TO. PAY. THE. RENT. And… whenever there is not enough cash, and now vouchers worth $1.50, in the donation box to pay the rent, the instructor pays to instruct.

    This studio doesn’t keep track of the number of patrons who attend classes. So, the instructors have no way of receiving money from vouchers that patrons do not drop in the donation box. If patrons who bought a deal forget to drop a voucher in the donation box, that means they took a class for a $0 donation and the studio keeps the money from the unredeemed voucher (the money the studio received from Living Social and Groupon sales).

    So who benefits from these “deals”? Looks like the owner and managers do. They get free advertising and make some money from any percentage/dollar amount from the vouchers, and any amount from unused/forgotten vouchers. Again, this “donation-based” studio’s owner and managers guarantee their own income while the instructors are made to deal with any financial losses. The studio charges expensive rent, tells patrons the suggested donation is $15, but that it’s okay to donate $0. Then offers “deals” and consequently communicates to all patrons that it’s also acceptable to offer as little as $3 per class. Do the patrons know the instructors might actually only receive $1.50 or less from each voucher? Do the patrons even know that the instructors pay expensive rent and that the amount is around $100? Do the patrons care or do they just want a yoga class for close to nothing? None of that appears to be a concern for the studio owner and managers because… their income is guaranteed.

    But, oddly, some of the instructors who stay in this situation aren’t bothered by any of this because they have other financial means and don’t need to make a living off of the donations they get from instructing. Others seem to be willing to pay to instruct in order to build a career riding the coat tails of a well-known yoga instructor/studio owner. But by continuing this situation, the instructors harm and devalue themselves as well as the going rate studio owners in general are willing to pay yoga instructors in the community. If the norm becomes paying studios to instruct yoga… no… let’s not even go there.

    IF this is all true, then it looks like the studio owner, managers, instructors and patrons are all taking part in creating and maintaining an unhealthy karmic situation for everyone involved that harms the yoga community.

    • VQ2

      Why should this disturb you? Yoga instructors even newly-minted 200 ryts, already pay for renting a studio to conduct a private session, for which they cheat, cajole, practically assault [TELL me: What IS that? That yank and crank into headstand? That torture in a ten minute held hip opener?] their students into buying “for their own good?”

      I have NO sympathy whatsoever for any yoga teachers in this current commercial climate.

      None. And when I go to a donation studio, I pay the suggested donation or more.
      But I mostly practice at the class I can afford. By myself, at home.

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