My favourite yoga studio in the whole wide world is in Kingston, Ontario and is yoga-by-donation. Pay what you can. It’s my kind of place - a solid mix between exposed-brick chic, graffiti street style, and elegant zen. Do you feel yourself beginning to unwind as you read that description? It’s not my writing, it’s the studio. It has that kind of an effect!
The debit-card-carrying student in me tries to bring somewhere between 7 and 10 dollars change per class. There’s a donation box at the front of the studio; picture one of those mailboxes with the flap you see fixed to the brick at people’s front doors. It always thrills me to drop my loonies and toonies in the slit and hear them clank - a pride if you will. One time I had to open the box to make change for myself and realized that other patrons are dropping in more than a handful of loonies and toonies. There were twenties in there. Abundantly so. Still, I liked the clank of my loons and toons.
Now that you’ve got the context I will set the stage for the real story here, and hopefully the life lesson at the expense of my own dignity. It was the middle of January and the first year Masters student in me had a serious case of the winter blues. I’d exhausted the phone-my-boyfriend-and-whine-about-it card and decided I had to be a big girl and deal with it in a big girl way. I would muster up the will power to get my butt to the yoga studio. But wait, first I needed to find the money. My donation!
It was the dead of winter and I didn’t feel like trekking all the way to the bank… just making it two blocks to the yoga studio was enough pep in my step for one day. There had to be change somewhere in my apartment. Ah ha! In the living room we had a jar we so eloquently titled the “crack change jar”, let me see if there are a couple lingering loonies and toonies remaining from the number of times my housemates and I had drunkenly ordered Dominos. I go rifling through the jar…. a Bahamian dollar, a Jamaican coin the size of a dime, and a whopping total of 0.45 cents Canadian. Oh boy. Could drunken Mad not have been more considerate of later Mad trying to right her emotions?
I rationalized that it was pay what you can. But my morals told me that walking in with a lululemon yoga mat, Nike sneakers, UnderArmour tights, a lulu tank, a Canada Goose jacket, and an iPhone in my hand painted a much different picture than the 0.45 cents I tightly clenched in my fist. Play it cool Mad, it’s just this once. You’ll get ‘em back next time.
This time after class when I made my donation, the embarrassing combination of nickels, dime (yes, just one) and even a couple (discontinued) pennies rained down into the mailbox with such an embarrassing clink I ran out the door with my face as red as a tomato. The studio had helped me that day and all I could repay them with was a sad 45 cents? That wouldn’t have even paid for my share of toilet paper had I used the washroom.
On Friday the studio announced it would be moving to a traditional payment format which I think is a great move. For one, it will save the panic of searching for physical money and the sadness of coming up short (aka my dignity), on top of ensure the studio is in good financial shape to keep doing what it does. I haven’t been in a couple months because I’ve been super fortunate to have a new friend who invites me to an abundance of wonderful free yoga classes, but it is so nice knowing that studio 330 will be there for me when I need it again. I want to express my gratitude, more seriously, for the classes I have taken part in there. I find that yoga is my go-to when my head isn’t in a good place, and I’m working on making it more of a go-to to keep my head in a happy place all the time.