Leave a Tip


In a middle of the night daze, while Jody and I were debating whether to let Zoe “cry it out”, I had this notion that yoga teachers should get a tip. Yoga is a service business, and in most service based businesses, the server gets a tip. We tip waiters, cab drivers, bag handlers, massage therapists, beauticians to name a few. If it’s a service based business and you are not tipping, you are most likely paying a huge fee.

Jody and I do our best to make 3 Bridges the best studio to practice, teach and be a part of. We want our employees to make as much money as possible and try to offer other benefits as well. Part of the vision of 3 Bridges is a place where people can make a living doing good work for others. We want our yoga teachers to just teach yoga and not have second jobs or work seven days a week. But unfortunately it’s not really the way it works. Yoga is a business, and we constantly balance how much we charge, how much we spend and how to make sure that we can all eat and survive for the long term.

Now, I really don’t think we should have a tip jar on the counter of the studio. That would be just weird. How much should you tip? Is it based on the number of chaturangas that you did? How much sweat did you accumulate? Was it that savasana adjustment? Sounds like a Seinfeld episode.

If there aren’t huge financial rewards for our teachers (not yet anyway, I’m working on it…come on shark tank) then why do we teach yoga? I know for me the reward is watching people do their best. Watching transformations happen over the weeks, months and years. Seeing sack of potato bodies turn into tall and proud mountain poses. I love it when that perfect class comes out. When the yoga sequence, language and music gods all come together to create a perfect union. I know it because I feel it, but also a lot more people after class say “Thank you”, or “Great class”. It’s those comments that make me feel rewarded, financially or not.

I love sushi but didn’t always. I had a friend in Charlottesville Virginia who showed me the way. He showed me how to order, what to eat, how to eat, what the right mixture of soy and wasabi is. He also told me to always thank the sushi chefs after the meal. It shows respect, gratitude and it makes a connection. Plus thank you sushi chef for not serving me something potentially poisonous.

I’ve also made that the same principle for when I take a yoga class. I always thank the yoga teacher, whether it was a good, bad or mediocre. If it was a great class, I’ll tell them as such. If it’s one of our teachers, they usually get a dose of feedback as well. We constantly strive to make the yoga better for YOU, not for the money. The money will follow.

So, leave yoga teacher compensation to me, but here’s ways you can leave your “tip”.

1. Show up on time, get your blocks and straps and be ready to go. We start and end on time.
2. Don’t forget your wallet and be sure to check in and say hello.
3. Listen to the cues. The teacher crafts the class based on what they see. If you aren’t listening and doing your own thing, it throws off the teacher.
4. Modify for your practice. I’ll say good job when a student backs off or modifies, rather than going past their edge.
5. Be courteous to other students. Smile at them if you twist your leg into them or end up in an awkward stare.
6. Wipe down your mat and puddle of sweat. Our teachers are required to mop after class.
7. Say Namaste, and sing your Ohm. Nothing worse for a yoga teacher when we do an Ohm and it’s just one person sounding like a wounded duck.
8. Give thanks to the teacher every once in a while. You don’t have to run up to the teacher and say “Great class” when it wasn’t but a little recognition goes a long way.

We have this one student who visits us every other month from Michigan. She would just show up do her thing and leave. Then one day, she came up to me and said how coming here during her trips to Portsmouth really made her trips better and how it’s helped her life in ways that I don’t even know. At that point, I don’t need to earn another penny. I’m feeling like a million bucks.


On By 3BY

4 Responses

  1. Darci says:

    Wonderful post, Bjorn. Kinda gave me chills actually. It’s the way to a better world…miss you all. Have a torn labrum in my hip so cannot practice until after surgery — will look forward to seeing you this fall. Keep up all the great work!

  2. Grace says:

    I love all the classes and teachers at 3 Bridges, thank you all!

  3. teri martin says:

    Very well said, Bjorn — and the smiles after “namaste”, say it all!

  4. Coreen says:

    I agree! Part of coming to yoga class is bringing your best energy and sharing it with your teacher and fellow students otherwise you’re just taking. The best yoga class for me is when I feel the energy in the room. It’s so great to be part of that. Peace

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