• Image about Greg Gumucio


Stretch your budget -- and your body -- with donation-based yoga.

The yoga business has ballooned into a $5.7-billion-a-year industry, but the teachers at Yoga to the People (YTTP) aren’t demanding a penny of that disposable income. Really.

Unlike so many studios that charge up to $25 a class for a chance to be secretly nitpicked by students with designer mats and fancy clothes, Yoga to the People works on a donation basis, welcoming anyone who wanders into one of its three studios.

“It’s not just because it’s cheap,” YTTP founder Greg Gumucio says, explaining the studios’ success. “That’s definitely an element, but it’s also because there’s a sense of community. We get a lot of students, artists, actors, dancers -- those with creative juices who really don’t have the money to pay.”

On YTTP’s website, the suggested donation is $10, and after a class, students place their donations in a tissue box near the exit.

Gumucio, who previously owned eight traditional yoga studios, decided to try the donation-based model four years ago while teaching a class in New York’s Midtown Manhattan. He asked people to pay what they could, and within three weeks, he had to turn away students.

A few months later, he opened Yoga to the People in a studio apartment in a walk-up building in New York’s achingly trendy East Village.