When I decided to really commit to my practice, I started working at a studio cleaning floors (and bathrooms and just about everything else) and checking people into class in exchange for classes.
I did that all through college & graduate school— I didn’t pay cash for yoga for 6 years. If you don’t have money, you have to be willing to exchange your time! Yoga should not be free. It is of value, and yoga teachers’ time and learning is valuable. I liked doing it, in a lot of ways (I also still clean a lot because I manage a studio now). It made me feel like I was a living part of the yoga tradition; historically, students of yoga would live with their gurus and do chores in return for the knowledge and skillful means their gurus would teach them. At the studio I manage now, we have 6 of what the article calls ‘karmis’ (we call them admins, but we are a practical lot at my studio) who work in exchange for yoga.
Yoga itself can be your guru. Be humble and sweep some floors for it! Cleaning can also be done as a meditation. You’re preparing the space energetically and physically for the good transmission of knowledge, for the space to be safe and welcoming, and even practicing one of the Niyamas: Shaucha, cleanliness. Focus on doing every task with all of your attention and practice steady breath, or throw a dance party as you mop by cranking the speakers and fill the room with your joy.
If you live in NYC, SF, Berkley, or Seattle, you can check out Yoga to the People (http://yogatothepeople.com/) which offers classes for a suggested donation of $10. As a warning, these classes can be packed, and my ex-girlfriend who did her YTT with Yoga to the People in SF has reported that the teachers are not always stellar.
Lots of studios in places where there is a well-sized yoga community offer community classes on a pay-what-you-can/donation basis or on a reduced basis. Check out schedules to see what is available in your area.
Invest in the important stuff (a good, sustainably produced mat [I use Jade-bit.ly/kCgVor] will last you at least a year of regular use, many last even longer) but please, don’t get caught up in thinking the $90 lulu leggings (and sports bra and matching water bottle and headband) are necessary. It’s fine if you want to wear them, but I’m a yoga teacher who owns 0 pieces of Lululemon, because they’re not in my budget, they rarely come in natural/sustainable fabrics, I don’t buy black clothing anymore, & I’m not into supporting a company that holds a lot of libertarian values (see http://www.fastcompany.com/1208950/lululemon%E2%80%99s-cult-selling).
Finally, prioritize. If you know yoga is important to you, that it heals you or makes you feel better, just look at your finances and say, “What can go?” Recently, one of the law students who comes to my weekend classes told me, “I’ve been staying in on Friday nights to save money for yoga classes and to be able to wake up for class on Saturday morning!”
What a good strategy: a $15 yoga class drop-in is way about what— 2 drinks at a bar? and no hangover during class! (Although like I said, I worked at a yoga studio throughout college, including the opening shifts on Saturday & Sunday, so I know a few things about stumbling my way through a yoga class with a hangover.)
I hope some of this helps anyone who is struggling to make more yoga happen in your life. Put your intention out into the universe and you’ll be surprised by what answers.