What's the cost of trauma informed yoga training?

If you are looking into trauma informed yoga training, you are likely realizing that training to offer your services on a volunteer basis also costs money.

So what does it cost?

While many organizations offer yoga services to underserved groups at low cost or no cost, there is almost always a cost affiliated with the training. Most 3-5 day intensive trainings range from $300-500.

It can initially be disorienting to think of paying for a training so you can volunteer. Ultimately, you support the important work of these organizations by investing your funds to train. Many trauma informed teachers see it as a responsibility to get trained on trauma as one means to minimize the possibility of causing harm....it also makes sense to ask, "What's the cost of NOT getting training?" (Can yoga cause harm?)

How can you reduce this cost?

Many trainings offer a reduced "early bird" rate, a discount for small groups who register together, or perhaps scholarships for participants who can make the effort to document need and an established dedication to the work. A yoga studio or organization that can host a yoga service training (offer an appropriate space for 3-5 days, actively promote the training so a sufficient number of participants enroll, and help with trainer accommodations and transport) may be able to secure a spot or two at no cost for staff. Some yoga teachers establish a Go Fund Me page to request financial contributions from friends and colleagues in order to enroll in trauma informed yoga teacher training.

Sometimes non-profit organizations (such as the one where you’ll volunteer your services after training) can help cover the cost of training, or reimburse volunteers for training after they volunteer a certain number of hours. In my experience, this is not very common, but if cost is a major hurdle and you know you can commit to volunteering, this option is worth exploring. In Chicago, Yoga for Recovery offers this to active volunteers, for specific trainings, after a certain amount of time.

Where does that training fee go?

Proceeds may go to cover the basic costs of trainers traveling to the host city for the training, and beyond that, to support the cost of offering low or no cost yoga to underserved groups. Above and beyond these costs, it's expensive to start and maintain a non-profit organization. It can cost more than $500 just to file for 501c3 status. It takes time and expertise to apply for grants (funding isn't automatic just because an organization becomes a non-profit). If the organization rents space there are costs like rent and utilities. Non-profits with 501c3 status are required to publish annual reports detailing funding and spending, so if the organization is a non-profit, you could ask to see the annual report.

People sometimes question the practice of non-profits paying staff rather than relying exclusively on volunteers, but, why shouldn’t staff who dedicate their professional training lives to aiding others receive compensation? Or, on the other hand, should non-profit work only be available to those well-off enough to work full time without pay (or limited to those who do it on top of another full time job)? Most of us would agree not.

What if you CAN'T take a trauma-informed yoga training?

You may be able to learn about the community you hope to teach in alternate ways. If an organization has an orientation for its general (non-yoga) volunteers, you could attend and perhaps even volunteer in a more standard capacity before teaching yoga. You could schedule time with a social worker or other staff member to discuss potential challenges to offering yoga and how to address them. Trauma informed training specific to yoga can be tremendously helpful, but other training in trauma - such as in a social work degree program or long-term volunteer role interacting with trauma survivors separate from yoga - can also inform your approach.

Some (non-yoga) non-profit organizations offer in-depth trainings, separate from yoga, which are required for volunteers of any sort who interact directly with clients. Illinois, for instance, requires any volunteer interacting directly with survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault via a non-profit to take a 40-hour training in one of these topics. Sometimes those who commit to volunteering for a set amount of time can receive a discounted rate or a scholarship.

The bottom line

Most of us are not independently wealthy, and need to pick and choose how to spend our limited funds. Sometimes other needs simply take priority over taking trauma informed yoga training, and that is okay. Sometimes cutting out restaurants or entertainment for a month or two and channeling money saved to fund for training can be surprisingly effective. If restaurants and entertainment represent the only forms of self-care in your budget, it's fair to not want to cut these out.  Many yoga teachers who teach trauma informed classes draw something from those classes too - personally I am skeptical of anyone who espouses wholly altruistic motivation in yoga service!  It's wise to keep in mind that if time and cost are constraints in getting training - these may be factors too in teaching. Thinking creatively about finances can come in handy here!