In recent years blogs, social media, and online videos have drastically changed how leaders in the yoga community communicate with their students—offering instant access to teachings for free. But big projects, such as books, films, and videos, cost big bucks to produce—so some yoga teachers and scholars are turning to the yoga community to financially support their creative projects.
Crowd funding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become a popular way to raise money for projects and give yogis everywhere a chance to support the projects they value. These sites allow contributors to donate as much as they'd like in exchange for a digital version of the project, print copy, or other incentives (depending on the donation amount) when the project comes to fruition.
"Inherently, crowd funding means participation," says Elena Brower, who recently published her book The Art of Attention using $75,000 she raised with an Indiegogo campaign. "Whether we contribute for a 'reward' or just for the sake of being part of something creative, we have participated. [Yoga] practice is so much like that too--participating in a higher listening, together." Brower said she and co-author Erica Jago also chose crowd funding because they knew there was enough interest to support the effort, and it afforded them creative freedom. She told us she'd be looking for a traditional publisher for help releasing a second edition of the book.
Community was at the heart of another successful yoga book campaign called the Roots of Yoga. Mark Singleton, who recently raised $51,538 through a campaign on Kickstarter for a book project with James Mallinson, said his campaign was a way to get the yoga community involved. "We wanted to see whether we could make a book that would be generated by the desire of the yoga community for reliable, exciting translations of practice texts: A book for and by the community," he says. In this case, the funding goes toward research, and he will reach out to publishers to put the book into print.
But while community might be one of the driving forces for some, fundraising is obviously what makes crowd funding so appealing. Acquiring, licensing, editing, marketing, producing digital editions, and distributing a book is costly, says Steven M. Pomije, the marketing communications manager for Shambhala Publications, which publishes books on religion and yoga among other topics. He noted that the trend extends far beyond the yoga community. "There is certainly a level of democratization linked to sites like these," he says.
Crowd funding makes it possible for yoga students to decide what projects are valuable, instead of just what media companies deem the most commercially viable, which can be empowering. As Brower put it: "Collaborative possibility is very healing, and it's what we long for right now."
Have you ever contributed to a crowd funding campaign? What kinds of projects would you like to see come to fruition?