Hosh Yoga, the City of New York, and Earth Yoga have teamed up because they believe yoga is something everyone deserves—not just a person lucky enough to have $20 bucks to spend on class. They will be offering a program specifically created to train teachers to work with New York's underprivleged.
Hosh has been offering donation-based classes since its inception, back in 2009, as part of it's mission to make health and wellness a right, not a luxury. This new 200-hour teacher training will give 10 scholarships to young adults—ages 18-22, living in District 34, which includes Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood—and another 10 people from the general population, who will pay a $1,200. This is much less than the general market price of about $3,000.
“There’s this industrial complex that’s happening, making yoga all about money,” said the studio’s co-founder and executive director, Yuuki Hirano. This has led to fierce competition, coupons, and all sorts of come-ons. “But in our situation, we get to stay pure in what we’re offering, because it’s not about making a profit.”
Hirano, who has led teacher trainings at his other studio, Dou Yoga, for the past three years, will act as a supervisor to the program, while Earth Yoga’s Yanti Amos and her team will provide the instruction.
Sponsors to the program include the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who provided funds to Hosh Kids, Hosh’s sister organization, last summer. Reynoso, raised in the Los Sures section of Williamsburg, is determined to provide a better quality of life for his constituents and started his career leading a coalition that improved the lives of childcare providers, one of the most exploited and ignored groups of women in the city.
“We pitched the idea to them at the beginning of the year," said Hirano, “saying it would be a great opportunity for young adults to get a foot in the door for a career. Teaching yoga isn’t standard. You’re not going to an office, but you can still have a fruitful career.”
To be considered for the training, applicants must submit the essay-style application by December 1st.
“If you’re looking to become a famous yoga teacher, this isn’t for you,” said Hirano. “Our program ties back into community service. So a lot of the applicants that we’re looking at have some background either working as educators, or working within at-risk or in-need neighborhoods or communities, in some capacity,”
There is also a service component built into the TT program. Participants are required to do 25 hours as part of their training. “It’s not soup kitchen stuff. It’s more about following along with the organization, and doing community service that way—providing yoga, health, and wellness workshops at a reduced cost.”
In order to keep costs low, Hosh relies on volunteers. All of the instructors at the studio work as karma yogis.
“It’s been a volunteer program for a long time, and that’s something we’ve been really
proud of because these teachers share the idea of being able to offer these classes at a donation rate. So they’re happy to volunteer, and give their time while gaining some experience because a lot of them are recent graduates," Hirano said. "But we also see that it is hard to live and work as a yoga teacher especially for those who are trying to shift into making it a full- time career. There are some excellent teachers that grow up out of Hosh, it’s a shame for them to be like 'Okay, I’m good now—I’m going to make money somewhere else.' So we’re working with our board to reallocate some of our budget to be able to pay them next year.”
Unlike most nonprofits that rely on fundraising, Hosh is run more like a for-profit organization where their operations are self-sustainable. While they do receive funding from the government and look to fundraising to grow their programs, it’s the student donations that support the studio.
“It’s not about the money so that we’re lining our pockets," Hirano said. "But it’s about the money so we can offer something of quality, and still be here, and continue on for years and years.”