Why small acts matter in creating a healthy community




Welcome to the brand new Pranama Blog! As we celebrate one year in Stockholm (with a big WOHOO and a whole week of free classes in the end of September), what better way to continue into next year, than to bring on some more of our vision and heart, expanding the ideas that drive us!


So, a little over year ago we opened our doors with a vision of a more inclusive yoga studio. We were tired of yoga being branded as something exclusive for slim, flexible and well-off white women. We wanted to create a place where people, no matter of shape, clothing, or income could feel free to be themselves and experience the essence of yoga.


And yes, we mean no matter of income! First out in Stockholm, maybe even in Sweden, we introduced a pricing structure that truly supports the community with different voluntarily payment options depending on your economical situation. Basically, people who experience their income level being high can choose to pay 100SEK extra per month. That’s roughly the cost of two Frappuccino Lattes at your corner coffee shop chain (if you want to drink them we won’t judge). That relatively small amount of money goes each month directly to members who have the least of economic resources, like students, people on sick or maternal/paternal leave, unemployed and so on, and this way further lowering the already discounted price. We call this membership group Ananda, usually consisting of people who greatly benefit from yoga, both mentally and physically – these two naturally being connected. Nothing of that amount goes to us running the studio. There’s nothing more in it for us then a direct contribution to the wellbeing of the community!


We’ve received enormous amounts of positive feedback on this model at the same time as sceptical voices have stated that voluntarily systems don’t work. Already in 2008 when I was writing my Master thesis about the relationship between Corporate Social Responsibility and share value, there was a clear correlation between factors such as doing good and economical profits. Nowadays there’s not one major company that doesn’t have a serious commitment (at least on paper) to the greater social environment. Meaning that doing good can also be good economically, no matter of the underlying intention.


However, the most important thing here is the intention of the act. How do your spend 100SEK per month? What’s the value of that money to you?


We’re becoming more and more conscious about where we put our money when it comes to products. We choose more expensive organic food instead of cheap imported fabricates. We choose our clothing with a greater care for environment and sustainability. Because we know that it’s better for a greater good, even if it costs a little bit more.


But how about when it comes to services? Are we as conscious about how we spend our money, what and who we support?


One of our society’s biggest challenges for the years to come is the overall lack of physical activity and mental health problems. The Public Health Agency of Sweden states in its 2017 yearly report of the development of public health (Folkhälsans utveckling – årsrapport 2017) an increase in lack of physical activity and the amount of mental illness among people, especially younger persons. Same report states the socioeconomical situation of a person as one of the biggest factors for developing illnesses associated with the above lack of physical activity and mental wellbeing. A simple, and pessimistic, conclusion of this would be the opposite of Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems – Less money, Mo’ Problems.


Yoga doesn’t solve everything, but it most certainly is a great tool to improve both things above. It is now even common for doctors to subscribe yoga on recipe to people who suffer from exhaustion or burn-out. What if the 100SEK could bring that person who really needs it to their practice for a greater wellbeing, and then pass it on to the next person.


Creating a system where people support each other is such a beautiful thing. And it’s not about charity. It’s not about someone being helpless, and you giving out of pity or bad consciousness or some other emotion created by the sense of lack. But because of an intention to give to the community.


It’s like taxes (if you’re bored by only the thought, hold on I’ll keep it short). I personally don’t mind paying my taxes because I believe in a social structure where we support each other. I might not agree on all aspects of how tax money is spent, but I agree with the intention of a greater wellbeing of the society.


There’s of course the other side of the coin. What’s the value of a thing or a service. It’s a cliché but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Can we expect to receive a high-quality service and a supply of everything we want at a cost of nearly nothing? That is simply not possible, and most importantly not sustainable. There is a need for conscious decisions as well and transparency.


Expanding our consciousness on and off our yoga mats is for a greater good. Because at the end no one is an island, we’re all part of the same oneness. All connected, no matter how much we try to tell ourselves that we’re not.


Now you’re probably wondering: Does our pricing system work? After a year we can begin to evaluate even though we will need more time to really see an effect. The price of a monthly Ananda membership (the lowest price) has fluctuated as new members have joined while some has left. Thanks to the contributions of the members who have chosen to support the community a bit extra we’ve managed to lower the monthly price with as much as 33SEK. It’s not a huge amount but it is significant enough to be able to say – yes it works! We’re incredibly proud of our expanding community of people who are willing to act from a place that comes from themselves. We’ll continue to strive towards a lot lower price. If you want to know more details about our pricing model, visit our home page www.pranama.yoga/pricing.


And feel free to copy our pricing model. We look forward to more brave social entrepreneurs who’re as eager as we to find new sustainable ways to connect people, with themselves and with others.


With love,

Maija

Co-founder of Pranama