When I last wrote about Free Baltimore Yoga, a project dedicated to providing studio quality yoga in non-studio spaces (you didn’t see it, but fellow entrepreneur types – I typed that elevator pitch with a quickness), we were still doe-eyed and fresh-faced. It was November and 4 months into this program, we were still riding high on adrenaline, attention, and momentum.
Staring down Free Baltimore Yoga’s one-year birthday next month, some days we don’t feel so young anymore.
Questions I frequently answer:
What about the people who come to class who can afford the yoga?
Isn’t that what’s so damn special about this? In a world where everyone wants you to click on the link in bio to reserve your spot – here there are no tix for sale. I love the notion that your money is no good here. AND I’ll add that I don’t know and don’t give a damn who can or cannot afford the class. The entire second row on Tuesday night at Patterson Park could own founder-level 1980’s Apple stock and I’d have no idea. I won’t treat you any differently based on your income. I won’t teach you any differently. That sounds freeing regardless of the money or lack of money being exchanged.
Why don’t you let people donate depending on their level of income?
I don’t want to see the guy who’s chasing the fancy quiche pay $20 in front of the guy who’s scrambling to make ends meet this week. Listen, I love the guy who wants the fancy quiche. I want the fancy quiche too! But this has no place in yoga. At least it has no place in the yoga that I want to share.
What do you do for money? Trust fund? Wealthy husband?
I hope both my parents and my husband have a good laugh at this one. Not that it’s any of your business but no. I don’t have a trust fund or a wealthy husband. Before I taught yoga full-time, I was a makeup artist. Guys, I wasn’t very good (see below)! After college, my husband started off working at Kinko’s (before it was Fed-Ex Kinko’s) and I still remember the day we celebrated when he got a raise to $9 an hour. Full disclosure: he is now a Software Engineer and we have bills and debt just like most Americans. For the most part I have eschewed a paycheck over the last year, although there were exceptions and I am grateful for them!
Do you want someone to buy this whole thing and pay you to run it? (Clarification: No one has ever asked me that. I wish someone would ask me that. Let me volunteer my answer…)
YES, of course! I’m naïve and community-minded but I’m not stupid. Of course, I want some philanthropic, large-hearted, sugar daddy, yoga lover to see the value of community built without money. I’d love to be able to pay the teachers (my friends), photographer (my friend), web designer (my husband), and social media maven (me) every penny of what they’re worth. Here’s the thing though, I’m not going to compromise the program just for the dollars. I don’t want people to have to practice on mats with logos and I don’t want it to become PNC Free Baltimore Yoga because we all know that’s stupid and gross. This is yoga asana as pure and accessible as I can teach it at this point. I haven’t figured it all out. Nobody has.
Since you teach for free, will you teach for my community group, sorority, me and my turtle?
No. I’d love to be able to do that and I have learned to say no. This program has inclusivity at its core so teaching for a small group, no matter how incredible they are, takes away from the community and inclusivity of the program’s aims. It’s in no way personal. (Note: If you do practice with your turtle on your back, I might actually say yes just for the Insta.)
What else do you do?
Thank you for your concern! I’m a yoga teacher and full-time caretaker of Free Baltimore Yoga and Free City Yoga and although my schedule may not always appear full, I assure you that I have plenty to keep me busy. I also write. I don’t get paid for that… yet! If someone wants to change that; let’s talk. Listen, I have no problem with writing AT&T presents Lee Anne Finfinger’s book of musings on life, yoga, and everything in between.
Free Pittsburgh Yoga has been going strong for almost 2 months! Free Twin Cities Yoga and Free DC Yoga are on their way thanks to the incredible women who’ve all come to me and asked if they can start this in their own cities. Like I mentioned, Free Baltimore Yoga will turn one next month! We’re talking about locations to add in the fall and we’re only taking a break the week of July 4th. All classes are cancelled and will resume on July 12th when I return from Copenhagen stuffed with lagekage! July 19th and July 21st – we’ll celebrate at both classes with yoga and free cake and maybe some surprises if I think of them. Thank you for supporting our little yoga community. If you haven’t rolled out a mat in a while, come see us again. We miss your face and while we won’t accept your dollars, we will accept your love.