What I wish someone told me when I first started teaching:
1. You can make a living teaching yoga
At some studios, you will make less than if you worked at Starbucks. It will be frustrating. You’ll feel exploited and maybe angry (“I’m doing much better in the world than serving coffee!”). Where’s the spirit of loving kindness in being paid $8.75/hr? Take a deep breath and prepare to invest in the long and forking road that leads to success in teaching yoga.
2. Easy to get a job teaching
There’s a studio on every corner. The yoga industry is growing by 200+% every year. And yet it’s still challenging to get hired at a studio. Best tips I can give you? Ask your yoga teacher friends to introduce you to their studio owners. Get on the sub list, and sub as much as you can. Go the extra mile when you do. Are you willing to explore other teaching options, like teaching in a park, at the Y, to sports teams, or on Skype? Get creative – not all teaching has to happen in a studio right away. You’re still making a positive impact on your students whether you teach in a studio or in a parking lot.
3. You get paid to practice yoga
What do you love about practicing yoga? The quiet mind? Being guided by the loving cues of a teacher you trust? The unexpected sequence? When you teach a class, your yoga practice is not your own. You are there to serve your students, by helping them quiet their minds, giving them loving cues, and planning sequences that serve their bodies. You’re also keeping track of lighting, heat, music, volume, adjusting bodies, verbal cues, giving demos, remembering your sequence, distractions like students coming late, leaving early, and farting. This is why it’s more important than ever to make time for your own practice.
4. Your practice will improve
You got your teaching certificate and your practice improved along the way. You want to share all those juicy tidbits to your new students, so you start teaching as much as you can. There may be a period of time that you become too busy or burned out to stay committed to your practice. Be kind to yourself if your practice takes a back seat to teaching, and know that you’re only a decision away from unrolling your mat, even if it’s for only 10 minutes. (PS: If you still can’t put your heels on your mat in dog down, it doesn’t mean you’re not a (good) yoga teacher. In fact, some students may like you even more because they can relate.)
5. You’re just teaching yoga
Surprise, welcome to entrepreneurship! If you’re teaching yoga, you’ve just started your own business. It’s time to brush up on your marketing chops. In order to grow your fan base, career options, and bottom line, you’ll need to define your brand, look for strategic partnerships, and seek out creative ways to earn a living teaching yoga. Know that your career as a yoga teacher may expand into many cool opportunities you never thought about when you first started teaching. Your impact can expand well beyond the studio you teach in.
6. The business of yoga is yogic
Not all studio owners embody the spirit of yoga. At the end of the day, studios need to keep their doors open. So unfortunately, you’ll see the almighty dollar driving many decisions in the studio. Be prepared for lots of yoga studios to feel like “the man”. It will feel confusing and ironic when your yoga teacher boss talks to you like she’s never done yoga a day in her life. Take note of the things you don’t like, and what you would change. Use those as guidelines for what you will change when you start your own yoga studio, or other business.
7. It’s about you
Yes, you came up with the sequence, playlist, quote, cues. You feel a responsibility to give your students the best class possible. But at the end of the day, it’s not about you. It’s about your students’ practice. No matter what you do, you will have students who don’t like you. Guess what? It’s not about you. And the students who love you? Guess what? Also not about you. But I will admit, the first time you hear a student say that you’re their favorite teacher, it feels amazing. And makes all the other bullshit worth it.