This article is Part 1 of my Your Sweet Yoga Career series, a series of detailed articles, interviews, + resources to help you build a profitable + sustainable yoga teaching career beyond the studio.

You started a yoga practice to reduce stress, reconnect with yourself, or maybe even get back that pre-baby body. Somewhere between your first down-dog to mastering handstand, a transformation took place.

You became addicted… to the calming feeling that carries through your day. To the new love and respect you have for yourself and your body.  To the yoga class after-glow. Suddenly, your new passion for yoga is the main topic of conversation everywhere you go {and your friends are wondering what got into you!}.

This seems to be how many yoga teachers seem to discover their career path. A passion for practicing yoga turns into a passion for sharing yoga. You become a “yoga junkie” – seeking out classes, workshops, even retreats to deepen your practice and discover more about yourself.

Maybe you start to dream of turning this passion into more than just a hobby… after all, life as a yoga teacher seems idyllic! Finally getting to wear comfortable clothing all day {buh-bye suits!}… flexible schedules {with lots of time for your own practice, surely!}… a constant state of zen + calm {no more feeling frazzled and exhausted from being in the “rat race” right?}.

Not to mention that most yoga teachers seem to have found the fountain of youth {that glow is wayyyy better than anything you’ll find in a bottle!}.

So what does a career teaching yoga really look like? How do you get started? Can you earn enough to support yourself {and not just scrape by}?

After talking to thousands of yoga teachers and helping hundreds to create a profitable + sustainable career sharing this beautiful practice, I can tell you that there is a LOT more to a thriving yoga career + business than just teaching a few classes a week!

7 Things Nobody Tells You About Becoming A Yoga Teacher

 

#1:: Say buh-bye to the 9-5.

There seems to be this myth that yoga teachers have an amazing work-life balance… after all, you’re no longer in the rat race for 40 hours a week in a poorly lit cubicle! Now you create your OWN hours!

The truth? Many teachers struggle with working too much. When you’re piecing together a living with a class here and a private there, you often forget all the other time that goes into creating a living teaching yoga (including prepping for classes, driving time between classes + clients, answering emails, promoting your classes). It adds up!

You may also find yourself working opposite hours from your family + friends. Consider this – the most popular classes are often early morning (before people head off to work) and in the evenings (the coveted 5:30 and 7:00 time spots) after work. Maybe not a huge deal at first… but I’ve heard from many yogis that:

  1. It’s challenging to find childcare during those hours so they can teach.
  2. It’s stressful to feel like you’re sacrificing family/friend/fun time for teaching.

Sweet Success Tip:: Map out your ideal weekly calendar. Give yourself at least 1 day a week OFF (seriously – too many of us are working 24/7/365) so you can decompress and connect with yourself + loved ones. Consider what you really desire for your lifestyle + work/life balance. Block out teaching times, prepping times, and marketing + admin times. Stop checking your email a million times a day!

#2:: You’ll be tempted to back-burner your own practice.

It sounds crazy… but so many teachers I’ve talked to over the years have struggled to find time to get in their own practice. Actually getting out to a class? Who has the time?

This is the biggest downside of teaching yoga – when you’ve been teaching all day, getting on the mat again might feel like the last thing you want to do (after a long day, the sofa + Scandal is sooo appealing). But the quickest way to lose your inspiration + passion for yoga is to STOP practicing!

Sweet Success Tip:: Prioritize your practice! Create sacred time for your practice that you can really commit to every day. If the idea of coming home and practicing after a long day isn’t working – do your practice in the morning. Can’t get to the studio every day? Put on a yoga podcast or stream a class (I love YogaGlo and Elsie’s Yoga Class Podcast).

Mamas – I know how challenging it is to get in a practice with little ones around. My strategy – my twins have a morning routine and rituals too. I make breakfast for them, then they eat, pick out their clothes, and get dressed on their own. My littlest one joins me during my practice – before preschool – and copies poses from Babar’s Yoga for Elephants.

Just a little mama inspiration 🙂

BONUS – get out once a week for a local class. Not only will you get inspired, but you’ll be supporting other amazing local teachers, building relationships with local studios, and getting your face out in your community. Win-win-win.

#3:: Group classes are just the beginning.

Now for a HUGE dose of reality…

Most yoga teachers are simply not able to eek out a living on group classes alone. We could crunch numbers in many different scenarios but all lead to the same conclusion – you can only teach so many classes in a week. Every studio/gym/wellness center approaches compensation differently (some pay a flat fee, some pay per head, some a combination). Even if you fill every class and have 25 classes a week, you may still struggle to earn a liveable income (especially if you live in a more expensive city).

Sweet Success Tip:: Get crystal clear on your baseline required income – the amount you need to cover your essential expenses (make sure to include not just living expenses, but savings, healthcare, etc.). Add 30% on top to account for random expenses and taxes.

Then think about your DESIRED income. This isn’t about being greedy peeps! This is about getting YOUR NEEDS met and living a full vibrant life you love! Where do you want to upgrade your life? Do you want a nicer apartment? Ability to pay for a vacation each year? Extra cash to feed your yoga education habit (’cause if you’re anything like me… you can’t walk into a bookstore without grabbing 4-5 books at a time!)?

Once you can see what your baseline + desired income is, you can actually start to figure out if teaching classes will be enough to achieve that income level (not sure? ASK! Become friends with local teachers and ask them what they get paid… that is wayyy more accurate than what you’ll find on the Google. Seriously, those reported yoga teacher salary numbers are off base).

Numbers not lining up? Then it’s time to look into alternative streams of income. Classes can be a great foundational income stream, but getting closer to your desired income will be much easier if you can add in higher price offerings such as workshops, retreats, events, special class series, privates, or even more passive income streams (like selling an ebook or YogaRecipe online) into the mix. If you’re a more advanced teacher or have a specialty you can bring to yoga – one of the BIGGEST opportunities in the yoga industry today is simply offering mentorship to newer teachers and specialty trainings + certifications.

#4:: Keep your day job.

Just because you graduate teacher training, doesn’t mean you should quit your day job just yet!

A sustainable yoga career doesn’t happen overnight. Seriously. DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. OVERNIGHT.

Unfortunately, I see so many yogis get blinded by all the glitter and unicorns and love and light that they make these huge decisions to leave a stable paying job and hope the universe will provide for them.

I’m all about trusting the universe… but I’m also practical. And unless you wanna be another broke yogi, you should be too!

Sweet Success Tip:: Consider your day job a blessing. It’s allowing you to build up your yoga career on the side without the stress of wondering how you’re gonna pay the rent + put food on the table.

EASE OUT of your job and EASE INTO your yoga career. Know what your baseline required income is and build up your yoga income to that point. This allows you to make a much smoother transition because you can take the financial pressure off yourself while you’re getting more teaching experience, building your student base, and learning the ropes of the biz side of yoga.

{Check out this great Yogipreneur TV interview I did with Anna Guest-Jelley of CurvyYoga.com on how she made this exact transition with ease + grace.}

#5:: There are UNLIMITED opportunities to teach {when you create them}.

There are hundreds {thousands even} of new yoga teachers graduating from teacher trainings around the world. And while there is all sorts of research letting us know the demand for yoga is going up the employment opportunities aren’t quite keeping pace.

So each time you go into a studio to inquire about teaching and drop off a resume… know that it’s likely going on a pile of dozens of other resumes. Because the studios and gyms are flooded with people wanting to teach – and not enough classes to go around.

Many new teachers, especially in yoga-lovin’ NYC or Cali, feel completely disheartened when they discover that many studios require not only an RYT 200, but also 3-5 years minimum teaching experience and advanced training.

How the heck are you supposed to get experience when you can’t even find a studio to teach in?

Sweet Success Tip:: Get creative!

Studios + gyms aren’t the only places to teach. Not by a long-shot!

There are literally unlimited opportunities for you to teach yoga when you get creative and commit to starting up a class on your own. Does it take more work to get a class rolling on your own – yup! You’re not only taking on finding a location, but also promoting it, taking payments, and keeping super organized to keep everything running smoothly.

Where else can you teach? Local parks. Art museums. Community centers. Personal homes. Offices. Churches. Schools. Holistic health centers. Retreat centers. Rec centers. Local meet-ups. Support groups. Private homes. Grab a local paper and see where people are doing things in your community!

{Catch some extra creative tips from the Yogipreneur Radio episode with Nyk Danu.}

If you happen to have the space at home – consider creating an in-home yoga studio! In fact, my first real yoga class in college (as in, not a DVD + with a real teacher) was in my teachers HOME. She and her husband converted their two car-garage into a gorgeous studio where she taught yoga, bellydance, + other movement classes. Ah-maz-ing!

{Looking into adding a studio in your home? Listen to this first!}

A HUGE perk of creating your own classes? You get to keep 100% of the profits (after expenses) — which can often be dramatically more than you’d get paid to teach at a studio or gym — and you often can save 10+ hours a week by eliminating the need to drive all over town!

#6:: You gotta be a BOSS.

The biggest challenge you’ll face as a self-employed Yogi? Your own resistance.

When you’ve got a job, you’re held accountable. When you work for yourself, you’ve gotta hold yourself accountable. This is HARD. You will come up with a million excuses why you aren’t doing what you KNOW you really need to do.

YOUR DREAMS DON’T WORK UNLESS YOU DO! And that means you only make a living when you’re makin’ it happen. Your paycheck depends on YOU.

Sweet Success Tip:: Commit to being a PRO! The minute you commit to being a PRO – something shifts inside you. You don’t allow yourself to fly by the seat of your pants. You show up. You do the WORK that needs to happen so you can share MORE of what you love.

A professional musician KNOWS that if she’s gonna be the best, if she’s gonna stay at the top of her game, if she’s gonna keep growing and playing her edge – she’s gotta get her booty in a practice room and get to work.

A professional athlete KNOWS that if she’s gonna stake her claim, she’s gotta commit to her workout, her nutrition, and her mindset. Every. Single. Day.

A professional writer KNOWS that waiting for “inspiration to hit” results in zero books! She sits down every day and writes. She tells inspiration “I’m HERE! I’m READY for you!”.

Ready to dive into becoming a Yogi CEO? Make sure you check out the 100% FREE Fired Up & Focused Challenge!

#7:: It’s NOT just about teaching yoga.

If you really wanna be a successful yoga teacher – you MUST EMBRACE MINDFUL MARKETING!

Look, I know you wanna just eat, breathe, and sleep yoga. But the minute you decide to TEACH… this practice isn’t just about you. It’s about sharing yoga with the world!

And sharing (ie marketing) yoga is the difference between an expensive hobby and a profitable + sustainable career.

Sweet Success Tip:: Discover Your Mindful Marketing Sweet Spot! Not all marketing is created equal. Yup – there is gross, icky, sleezy, NLP marketing that give any heart-centered soul the heebie jeebies. We’ve all experienced it. And hated it.

The good news – you DON’T have to do marketing that way! Where gross marketing is pushy and smarmy… mindful marketing is warm and inviting. Where gross marketing is one-size-fits-all shouting at the masses… mindful marketing is personalized conversations with YOUR peeps.

The best part? You can find the style + flavor that feels natural and effortless for you.

:: Are you a people person who loves meeting new people at big events? Your Mindful Marketing Sweet Spot may be attending events and connecting face to face.

:: Are you a more introspective soul who finds solace in your journals? Your Mindful Marketing Sweet Spot could be sharing your pearls of wisdom via a blog.

:: Are you someone who secretly wanted to be the next Oprah and interview inspiring peeps? Your Mindful Marketing Sweet Spot could be an online interview show.

Don’t buy into the belief that you have to do what everyone else is doing if you know it’s not a fit. Discover what works for YOU!

I’d love to hear from you! In the comments below, what words of wisdom would you share with a new yogipreneur?

Ready for Part II: Finding your ideal student? You can find it right here.

 

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