The Last Class

This past Saturday I taught my last class at Unity Church of Hawaii after 16 years. Long time students have moved away or gotten on to other things. Low attendance has been making it difficult to break even, despite rent being a nominal $25 per hour.  Towards the end, I wound up paying for most of the class out of my pocket. That was okay as I am gainfully employed.

The real culprit was the closing of a major highway that joined the two sides of the island. The Pali Highway succumbed to a landslide after heavy rains in February. During the week it can be contra flowed, but on weekends it is closed, making my commute to class twice as long.

That being said, my last four students were ones I have had for years. It felt like I was moving away from family. They come from very different walks of life. One woman works for the city and is an anime aficionado who takes care of her mother with dementia. Another is a retired woman who makes elegant Hawaiian clothing, and is the mother of a guitar player in a major rock band. One is an energy consultant who makes cities greener via clean energy policies. And lastly, one is an 85-year-old ophthalmologist who graduated from Harvard Medical School and is the surfing champion in his age division.

There were many more students over the years. Each taught me so much more than I could possibly teach them. I have extended them to join my other classes during the weekday. All have busy schedules. It seems so much of the modern 200 hour yoga trainings these days are designed to pack classes densely as soon as people can click a spot in the next class. But I doubt they train their students for this, letting go.

Now what will I do on Saturday mornings? Sleep in? Or perhaps take the opportunity to further my own yoga practice…

6 thoughts on “The Last Class

  1. Paul Tim Richard

    I commiserate. As a tai chi teacher, I see similar things. I literally quit teaching about four years ago. I was tired of trying and losing money. I enjoyed teaching, so having no students, or only one, hurt my feelings. I even left town. But I kept my website up. I don’t know why exactly, but I probably retained a speck of hope. Then in January my phone rang and rang. I was out of town, though. So I started promoting my return the next April and began getting sign ups. Several of those sign ups are still practicing with me and I’ve seen others, beginners, come and go. You probably know it can change and I hope it does for you.

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  2. Amber Foxx

    It’s hard letting go of long time students.Maybe they will fit your other classes in once in a while. I’ve been honored that a couple of my Virginia students have come to visit in New Mexico. It’s a unique bond, student and yoga teacher.
    Enjoy your Saturday mornings.

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  3. Aparna

    I can totally commiserate! I personally think you should still find a way to teach! You’re unique and have a lot to offer and your ethos of teaching is increasing rare in this world of corporate yoga.

    Quick backstory: I rent from a place that charges $30/hr. And like you, I am employed and see teaching yoga as a fortunate privilege. For the first year, I was mainly in the red, had maybe 5 students max. My class prices are in the $5-8 range. I’m purposefully making it cheap for students because I don’t need the financial income from yoga, and with the advent of the business-yoga, where class prices are so high, it’s hard for people of all backgrounds to attend and gain the benefits of yoga. 4 years later, I average about 15+ students per class – it has grown organically through word of mouth, etc. And like you, I am so attached to them. If I were ever to shut this class down, I don’t know I’ll do. Whatever profit I make from these classes, I put it towards the rent and rest goes to buying props, and yoga mats for my students.

    I know there were some circumstances definitely out of your control (with the bridge), but I urge to keep trying to find another place to teach perhaps? You’re a much-needed yoga teacher in this world.

    A big fan of your blog
    -Aparna

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks Aparna! I still teach two classes at my mentor’s studio. Perhaps down the road I’ll start another class closer to my home. Keep doing what you do as long as you can. The world needs more places where we can come together as a community.

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  4. alibey

    Sad your Sat class will be no more. Your blog has given me a perspective on yoga that I did not have: from a teacher’s standpoint. I will going to the only Iyengar class on Florida’s Treasure Coast at 10:30am this morning (it’s every Saturday) I cant make the Friday 8:30 one). I just started yoga, and would hate it if this class were cancelled.

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