Real Life: 5 Brutal Truth's about Being a Yoga Teacher
You have just completed your 200 hour Teacher Training and received your certificate. You are officially a Yoga teacher, and you can't wait to hit the ground running (or sun saluting as it may be). Before you take the leap into becoming a Full-Time Yoga teacher, I want to pass along some of the lessons (ie: Brutal Truth's) I've learned along my journey, including some things I wish I had learned sooner.
Disclaimer: These brutal truth's include money talk but I am not implying that money/income etc. is the end all, be all when it comes to deciding on a profession.
1. Only Teaching Group Classes will Lead to Burn out.
You have to teach a lot of group classes to make an income that will support you. In my experience, you would be teaching anywhere from 12-15 classes a week (that's 48-72 classes each month) to maintain an income that will not leave you feeling strapped for cash. Now, there is not a great chance that one studio is going to have that many classes to offer you, so this means you are going to need to teach at multiple locations. You will spend almost as much time driving to all of your classes as you do teaching them, plus you still need time to plan the classes, about 15-30 minutes before and after class to greet/chat with students, and time to, oh I don't know, have a life? Just because you promote relaxation and balance all day, doesn't mean you experience it. You will burn out.
2. You should find a "Niche".
As Yoga and Yoga Teacher Training's has become more popular and mainstream, the number of Yoga teachers out there has increased. I live in a relatively small city and there must be Hundreds of Yoga teachers here. I am a true believer that there is room for everyone, as everyone has a unique gift to offer while teaching. However, to make SURE you have a unique gift to offer, I recommend finding a Niche. Now, I don't mean you should pull an idea for your Niche out of thin air, because if you are doing it just to stand out, but it doesn't mean anything to you, it's not going to help. Think about what you are great at, what you believe in, maybe what your hobbies or other passions are, and go from there. I spent the last 8 years working with children and youth with special needs, it's something I love, am passionate about and experienced in, so that's my niche. That is something I can offer that maybe only another few teachers offer, which means my services will be in higher demand. So find your Niche! And then...
3. Learn to teach Privates or in other settings besides studios/gyms/community centres.
To be blunt - Privates are going to net you a higher paycheck. Alternatively, if you book with a large company who has a budget to spend to promote wellness among their employees, you may also find a different pay-scale compared to your Yoga Studio. Think outside the box when it comes to where and how you bring Yoga to people and you may find it easier to create a sustainable schedule without teaching 60-70 group classes a month.
4. You are your own business and brand - you have to promote yourself.
You have to get comfortable with self-promotion because you are your business. I'm not saying you should walk around to all the Yoga studios and brag about how great of a teacher you are and make sure they see how bendy and strong you are during classes. But, if someone asks you what you do, I hope you are comfortable sharing more than "I teach yoga". This is your time to tell them about what you offer, if you have a Niche, maybe why you love Yoga, maybe how you started, ask them if they've tried Yoga, promote your website, hand them a business card. Again, there are a lot of Yoga teachers out there, but there is only one YOU, so if someone connects with you in conversation, when they want to attend a class they may remember that connection and come to your class! I'm not only talking about those who have their own businesses either. As much as I really hate to say this... if you are teaching for a studio, you may be the most wonderful teacher in the world, but if no one is showing up to your classes, the studio won't keep that class running because it won't be making them any money.
5. You are working with the public and you will get "customer complaints".
Not everyone is going to like your classes. Some people won't connect with your style of teaching, some people won't like the music you choose to play, some people may even dislike the sound of your voice. They may let you know this by never showing up for your classes again, or they may let you know in a less subtle way. Try not to take it personally. The people who you DO connect and resonate with will continue to come to your classes and may even follow you around to different studios. Try not to get caught up in any of it - adoration or disdain - both can be really tricky.
So, if you are fresh out of your Teacher Training or considering a move to teaching Yoga full-time, I hope this gives you some insight into what you can do to build a successful career from your passion. It's not all sunshine, rainbows and green juices in the Yoga teaching world, but I must say, I've never been as happy and fulfilled in my work-life as I am teaching and running my Yoga business.
If you have questions about becoming a Yoga teacher please feel free to ask me in the comments below!