Self Care Is A Band-Aid Solution In A Broken System.

Band-aids have their place, but they don’t really support deep healing. And in a broken system, self-care routines are like minnows swimming upstream against the raging currents of neoliberal hyper-individualistic capitalism.

Caring self-regard and self-loving actions do matter – but practically, it’s the more well-resourced among us who reap the benefits of self-care habits. The time, money, and education required to identify helpful strategies and act upon them is not equally accessible to all.

Obsession with the Self in Self-Care

Hustle culture, grind culture, self-help and self-improvement culture all tell us that “no one is going to save you.” Yes, we should all do our best to treat ourselves as though our health matters, but this hyper-individualistic attitude is dissociated from the fact that as human animals, we heal and grow in relationship and in community. Doing everything yourself is not only near-impossible, it’s not even in our nature. 

Many wellness influencers and coaches use our (justifiable) fears of illness and unworthiness to capitalize on our desperation to optimize our wellbeing and desirability. They reel us in by performing their own wellness, which is often bolstered by genetics and their existing resources, making promises of a better life through discipline, early-morning routines, and of course, unshakeable dedication to the self.

There’s nothing wrong with a morning routine, but emphasizing this self-focused approach has us wondering – what about the capacity for single-moms, low-wage workers, neurodivergent, chronically-ill & disabled folks, and individuals of marginalized identity to fight to swim upstream?

Imagining A New Way of Being

We’re wondering whether self-care would even be a thing in a radically transformed society, where we might live in accordance with the reality of interrelationship: where child-care was provided for, where everyone had enough good food to eat, where rest and leisure were truly recognized to be just as life-giving as exercise, achievement and production.

Could networked systems of care provide the support we all need for collective wellness?

We don’t advocate for giving up on self-care, but we do believe in an approach to wellness that uses the lens of the social determinants of health, and that emphasizes Community Care as a more ethical and more effective approach.

What Can Wellness Spaces Do?

We see the ways in which yoga studio culture can also be full of wimpy little band-aids, and we hope to be more, do more and influence the broader culture towards recognizing and acting on our innate state of deep interrelationship.

Our mission is “to create a better world with Yoga as our common ground.” Part of this means doing business in a way that embodies our values. We value compensating our staff and teachers fairly and generously, and we alue offering more equitable wellness opportunities.

This orientation to business and community leads us to offer things like no-questions-asked sliding scale pricing, scholarships for 1 in 5 spots in our YTT, and Community Care Week.

You can read more about Community Care and our approach here.

The Why & How of Sliding Scale Prices

A reflection on the personal and collective responsibilities of sharing privilege.

What is sliding scale pricing? And how should you interact with the price levels at The Branches? Let’s dive in.

Should Only Wealthy Individuals Access Wellness?

Sliding scale pricing means that the same service or product can be purchased at different price points. We choose to make sliding scale pricing available for several of our offerings because we believe in creating more equitable access to wellness services and spaces in a general sense. In this specific instance, we’re aiming to address financial inaccessibility.

When we offer sliding scale, we usually use three levels. They’re called:

  • The Standard Rate: this is the going rate, based on comparable offerings throughout the market, and it enables us to pay our teachers fairly and our staff a living wage
  • The Subsidized Rate: this rate is for folks experiencing financial hardship & inaccessibility
  • The Community Supporter Rate: this rate is for those with the means to help us offer the subsidized rate

When you select a pricing level at The Branches, you are free to choose from the three rates at your own discretion. This means that you are not required to prove or explain your financial need to us.

Some small business owners hesitate to offer sliding scale pricing because they fear that customers will take advantage of the lower rates, even if it’s not actually necessary. Or, they feel that the lower rates don’t do justice to the energy, time, and value of their service or product. We get it, and we recognize that it can feel like a vulnerable position to put yourself in, especially in an uncertain economic climate.

By offering the freedom to choose, we’re both empowering our community to meet their own needs, and counting on individuals to make choices about sliding scale pricing with integrity. We know that our students come from a wide spectrum of financial standings, whose financial position is influenced by their ability/disability status, career income, household or generational familial wealth, etc. Our desire is that folks from all financial positions access yoga classes side by side.

Understanding Your Position – A Starter Guide

The question of who should pay what amount can bring up a lot of feelings. Class and financial privilege are loaded topics, especially in a society where wealth inequality is widening, and the cost of living is rising.

Here’s a graphic that can help you start to think about your current level of financial privilege. Alexis of Worts & Cunning Apothecary cunning created and shared this resource on their blog. The entire post is well worth a read, but for now, take a good look at this:

Through self-awareness, we hope to enter into a trusting and cooperative relationship with our community. When our larger student base practices generosity, this enables us to achieve the goal of financial accessibility. When individuals with some or plenty of financial privilege choose to pay the standard and supporter rates, we then have the sustainability to continue offering subsidized rates to individuals who are struggling.

Sliding Scale Offerings at The Branches

We currently have a sliding scale for the following services, listed here with Standard/ Subsidized/ Supporter prices:

You can read more about about each offering by clicking the links.

Let us know – how does it feel to participate in alternative pay structures like this? What comes up for you with regard to class, financial privilege, and sliding scale pricing choices?