Training to be a yoga teacher appears to be the ultimate life-hack. The question you might be asking yourself is ‘Am I good enough to become one myself?’ Of course, you are! Yoga is for everyone and, as long as you are able to pass on your knowledge and passion for the practice onto others, then you’re on the right track!
Quitting your job to become a yoga teacher provides an alternative way to earn a living, helping students to find inner peace through movement, mindfulness and meditation. Whilst it is always a good idea to take risks and follow your dreams, there are some truths that you need to be aware of before you take the plunge into the yogi way of life.
Before you hand in your resignation, be aware of the financial and social implications of starting your own yoga business. Although yoga and business are almost juxtaposed in nature, a new teacher needs to be somewhat entrepreneurial to get things going.
Maybe you have already taken your teacher training and are aware of the costs, or maybe you haven’t even started shopping around yet. Whether it is ethical or not, the harsh reality is that a decent 200-hour yoga teacher training can easily cost anything from $3,000 – $7,000. Not to mention the added costs of flights if you decide to take it abroad.
After you have forked out for the training, the initial costs of pursuing a career as a full-time yogi need to be considered. You will need to budget for business cards, yoga mats and a space to teach in. Essentially, your new yoga life is a business that needs financial care and attention, especially in its initial stages.
Transitioning from a 9-5 job role to a self-employed yoga teacher can be a challenge for many due to the difference in working hours. A usual schedule for a successful yoga teacher consists of classes in the mornings and evenings, in addition to workshops and intensives on most weekends. The middle of the day is used for planning, admin and private clients. Be prepared to be on the move almost constantly; between jobs, meetings and your own practice.
Build a Network
For a lucky few, breaking into the world of yoga teaching is as easy as doing a teacher training, followed by landing a dream job at a beautiful studio. However, for the majority of newly qualified teachers, this is not the case.
If you make up the latter, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of groundwork building a network. This will require visiting studios, attending workshops, sending emails… and that’s just the beginning. Having the patience to build a loyal following is essential to running a successful yoga business.
Find Your Niche
According to a study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, the number of yoga teachers in America has doubled in the past 6 years. Therefore in order to find loyal students, you need to stand out from the crowd.
Ideally, you want to grow your own following without stepping on the toes of other teachers. Encouraging new yogis to step onto their mats for the first time by offering something new is the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen. Look into your own experience for inspiration.
For example, if you are a runner, start a yoga for runners class, or if you used to work in the medical industry, start an in-hospital class for stressed-out nurses and doctors. That way, you will be able to teach from what you know and effectively tend to your student’s needs.
Be Clear with Your Intentions
Before you embark on your career change, seriously consider your reasons for doing so. Are you teaching for your own benefit or for the benefit of your students? If your desire to teach comes from a self-centered place, then perhaps you are not ready.
Teaching yoga is about giving to your students, providing them with a platform for self-awareness and discovery. Your teaching must come from a place of selflessness in order achieve this effectively. Be mindful of your language, address the students bodies often and make them feel as though they are supported throughout the practice.
Photo by Matt Madd
So you’ve got your TT certificate, you’ve quit your job and you’ve built up a decent clientele base… now what? A pitfall for many teachers is that they become too comfortable in their teaching and find themselves in the same mind-numbing routine that made them consider a career change in the first place.
Even though the category reads ‘teacher’, a good teacher knows they will always be a student. Continue to attend classes, workshops and retreats, constantly developing your own practice and teaching style. There is a common saying that rings true for teachers of all professions – ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. To teach effectively you have to feed your own inspiration so you can successfully inspire others.
Each profession comes with its own stereotype, and people often have this expectation of yoga teachers as ‘enlightened’ beings, never experiencing stress or negative emotions. Teaching yoga is not a catalyst for enlightenment, nor is it a requirement of the job role, and it is normal for teachers to fall short of this expectation. The duty of a teacher is not to gain mastery of yoga or become enlightened, their purpose is to share what they have learned through their practice in order to serve others. Through the promotion and encouragement of connection, kindness and recovery, a good yoga teacher will help students shed light on areas they have previously left in darkness.