The word yoga essentially means to unite, yet as it becomes trendier, the cost of classes seems to make this practice less accessible, said an Elk Grove yoga instructor.
Bo-Yee Gucciardo, 23, recently started a donation-only yoga class at 916 Dance Studio, located at the intersection of Elk Grove-Florin Road and Calvine Road, in hopes of sharing her love of yoga with people of all demographics – something she feels is part of the yoga philosophy.
“Yoga was meant to be accessible to everyone, but with capitalism it has become available to special niches,” she said. “Money is a big dividing factor.”
Gucciardo said she did not start this class because of the struggling economy – she would have started it regardless and plans to continue even if the economy improves.
Gucciardo has been practicing yoga for two years and started instructing this year.
She has also practiced ballet since she was two-and-a-half years old and has been teaching children’s ballet for over two years. She started instructing ballet at 916 Dance Studio in March this year.
Kamilah Alighandhi, owner of 916 Dance Studio, said she is confident in Gucciardo because she is so versatile.
“This is the first donations class I have at my studio,” Alighandhi said. “I’m only doing it with Bo-Yee. She’s such a good asset to the studio I’m willing to work it out with her.”
Gucciardo has been offering this class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 10 a.m. for three weeks now. Since she started, she has only had one student show up.
“In my mind I thought it would spread like wild fire, but that hasn’t been the case,” Gucciardo said. “I think people think it’s too good to be true or they have that ‘you get what you pay for’ mentality.”
Even though she has not been teaching yoga for long, Gucciardo said she knows she is good.
“I have people that pay top dollar for private lessons,” she said. “I’m good at what I do and my background in ballet has helped me immensely, especially with body alignment and balance.”
The one donation-only yoga student Gucciardo has had so far, Emily Chew, said she plans to continue attending the class.
“It’s a really good class and she’s a really good instructor,” Chew said. “She knows exactly how to cater to what you need at the moment. It’s nice and personal.”
Before this class, Chew said she had never physically gone to a yoga class, but had followed instructional videos. She also said she had never heard of a donation-only class.
Gucciardo said when she first thought of starting a donation-only class she had assumed that others existed. However, through her research she only found one other donation-only studio in the area, the Yoga Seed Collective, located at 14th and E Street in Sacramento.
Gucciardo said she hopes more students attend her class and does not mind if there are days when people cannot afford to donate much, or even anything at all.
“My classes are for all backgrounds – rich and poor,” she said. “I’m not going to look over and see who put money in the donations bowl or how much. When you really love yoga, teachers don’t mind teaching for free.”