There are two schools of thought within the global wellbeing industry: one side thinks certain services like yoga and meditation should be free of charge and not become commercial enterprises while the other believes that teachers deserve to be paid for their work and the income helps spread wellbeing further throughout communities.
While the free model has prospered in places like India, the paid model has generated an industry estimated to be worth $4.2 trillion globally. Even here in New Zealand there are yoga studios charging $130 a month memberships as well as others offering free community classes within the same neighbourhoods.
If you’re looking for enlightenment that won’t hurt your pocket too much, here are a few options to help you find your inner calm.
Lululemon: Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown
The Canadian retailer, which has dominated the world of high-end athletic apparel for years, offers free community yoga classes in stores. They even supply the mats and clear enough space in the middle of the store floor before opening hours on Sundays.
Classes get packed with up to 100 people attending the Ponsonby branch session, so it’s best to get there 10 minutes early to get a mat at 8:15am.
Check weekly schedules for your local Lululemon. Teachers change every week on a volunteer basis, therefore each class also varies.
Urban Ashram, Auckland
The Ponsonby yoga studio offers community koha classes on Saturdays at 4.30pm. It is a donation-based class and the collections are given to Woman’s Refuge. Other timetabled classes during the week have a fee.
Formerly named Bikes and Bends, Joy offers community mindfulness sessions, free yoga classes and meditation around Auckland.
Every Tuesday and Thursday they host two 20 minute mindfulness sessions at midday and 12:30pm in Takutai Square, by Britomart.
Every Wednesday and Friday they offer free 45 minute yoga classes at midday in the Eastern Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter.
Every Tuesday they offer a free community wellbeing ‘Mindful Movement and Meditation’ class from 12:30pm at Smales Farm on the North Shore.
Antara Health Clinic and Retreats, Auckland
This free natural health clinic in Te Atatu offers services such as nutrition advice, therapeutic massage, counselling and Reiki free of charge to people in the community who cannot afford to pay for natural health care. Staff are qualified practitioners who offer their work on a volunteer basis.
Antara also offers yoga and wellness retreats at no cost, in exchange for participation in the maintenance and running of the retreat. The retreat centre has been created and built mainly by volunteers and focuses on complete detox and wellness, therefore there is no alcohol, processed foods, caffeine or cell phones and laptop usage allowed.
Grassroots Yoga and Health, Christchurch
This yoga studio offers donation based community yoga classes ($5 suggested), where all the proceeds to go a charitable organisation. The classes are generally once per fortnight on Sundays and as of the end of July they will be offering ‘Pop-up’ community events.
Grassroots also offers subsidised classes for over 65s, ‘Seniors Yoga’, on Thursdays at 11:15am.
The Yoga Space, Nelson
This South Island yoga studio offers integrated yoga classes for all people regardless of money. The timetable is open to those who can pay and also those who choose to make a donation instead.
The weekly schedule can be found on their website.
Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington, Whangarei, Christchurch
Free weekly meditation classes are available in various cities across New Zealand, teaching awareness and balance.
Auckland has centres in Northcote, Browns Bay, Freemans Bay, West Harbour, Pukekohe and Blockhouse Bay. More details on days and times are found on their website.
Tauranga hosts the class at the Sport BOP offices in the CBD every Wednesday at 7:30pm.
Hamilton’s class is at the Waimarie: Hamilton East Community House every Monday at 7pm.
Wellington and Whangarei have classes available through contacting their representative.
Christchurch offers the class at the Upper Riccarton Community and School Library every Sunday at 2:15pm.
Further details are on their website.
Finally, wherever you live in New Zealand, simply walking in an outdoor environment can sync the body and mind at zero cost.
Put your cell phone on silent and try to stay in the present moment as you connect with nature and enjoy the simple pleasure of walking. When you notice your mind wandering, bring it back to the present moment and focus on your breath and sensations of the body.