Yoga to the People provides students with affordable yoga

A Tempe yoga studio caters to students with donation-based yoga

It’s no secret that college is home to the biggest stressors that students can face. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 85 percent of students reported they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point during the year. 

“It’s well known that exercising and being able to maintain a regular workout regime is really good for reducing stress and yoga is a very easy way for anybody to do that,” Greg McKee, instructor at Yoga to the People says. 

Yoga is one way that students are finding that effectively manages their stress. However, finding affordable options can sometimes prove to be tricky. The drop-in rates range from $10 to $20 in Tempe. 

Yoga to the People, located in downtown Tempe, provides an affordable and positive environment to practice yoga. 

Yoga to the People opened studios on the east coast prior to opening the Tempe location in 2013. Sara Powers, studio manager and ASU graduate, explains that the student population was the driving force behind putting the location in Tempe. 

“There was a gap for affordable yoga in the valley and in the Phoenix area,” Powers says. “Our main goal is spreading affordable yoga and in Tempe there is a huge student population.” 

Maryanne Rawald, biomedical sciences junior has attended classes at Yoga to the People. 

"Whenever I go to Yoga to the People, it's always a really uplifting experience and very community oriented," Rawald says. "The classes are mildly intense, so I feel very connected with my practice." 

Donation-based yoga

What sets Yoga to the People apart from other studios is the donation-based system that the studio runs on. 

“Our suggested donation is ten dollars, but it’s not a floor or a ceiling," Power says. "We ask people to pay what they can."

The first question that may arise with a price system like this is: how does the studio afford expenses?

"We are lucky our community supports donation-based yoga," Powers says. "It all comes out in a wash and the busier months balance out the slower months." 

From a student's perspective, consistently practicing yoga in studio can be unreasonable with the high costs. 

"The donation-based is wonderful because you know the instructors are there because they genuinely want to teach others," Rawald says. "A lot of yoga studios today are pretty pricey, so it's amazing that people are able to practice yoga as well as give back to others." 

Due to a diverse clientele, the donations that the studio receive vary. Powers says they have people that put $20 in the jar every time they come, but they also have people who give spare change. 

Cotter Ewens

Yoga mats at the Yoga to the People Studio in Tempe, Arizona. Photo taken in November 2017.

Elizabeth Campbell, a teacher at the studio and an ASU graduate, is inspired by the donation-based concept. 

“You have the people that are super affluent, and you have the people who give you their change,” Campbell says. “That change that is pouring out of their pockets is just as earnest as the 20-dollar bill.” 

Greg McKee has been teaching at Yoga to the People for two years. He says people are sometimes confused by the donation concept, but then react positively when they realize the studio wants to make yoga more accessible. 

Powers says the founder of Yoga to the People, Greg Gumucio, wanted the studio to be donation based so that more people could practice yoga consistently.

“Our founder was seeing that a lot of people were treating yoga as an activity," Powers says. "They would go to yoga once a week or once every couple of weeks like they were going to the movies."

Powers explains that the benefits of yoga are best reaped if practiced three to four times a week. 

“The studio creates a space where anybody can come do yoga as often as they want,” Powers says. “They just pay what they can.” 

Amanda Nelson, a longtime Tempe resident has been attending classes at Yoga to the People since the studio opened. 

Nelson says she thinks the donation concept is very unique to the studio.

“For me, if I’m just going once a week, I’ll donate more," Nelson says. "If I’m going seven days a week, I’ll cut down on each one a little bit. I can give more when I have more and then if I’m feeling pretty strapped, I can cut back. It seems to work."

Yoga benefits 

For many people, yoga is a non-negotiable part of their routine. 

Nelson says yoga helps her spiritually and mentally. She added that it has helped her through some rough times in her life.

“Yoga is my religion,” Nelson, laughing, says. 

Powers explains how yoga students come to their mats for all kinds of reasons. She encourages people to come whether they want to get a good workout or even just come to clear their minds. 

“It opens up a way for you to know yourself better. If you know yourself better, you can take care of yourself better,” Powers says. 

Having been a student herself, Campbell knows the stresses that a full class load can bring. She explains how you can work out excess energy or clear your mind and then leave the mat to go back to whatever it may be that could be causing stress. 

Campbell also knows how stressful figuring out life after college can be. She explains how important it is to practice taking care of yourself and how yoga can contribute to that. 

“It’s a skill that you have to practice every day, and the better you get at doing it and the quicker you are at figuring out how to do that and move on, the more you are going to be able to accomplish in life,” Campbell says. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted Sara Powers. The suggested donation amount is $10, not $1. Changes have been made to this article to reflect the correct amount.


Reach the reporter at lehart4@asu.edu or follow @lololicious97 on Twitter.

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