What is your experience of trying to make a living from teaching yoga?


#1

Hi,
Have you done a teacher training programme recently or are you looking to embark on one? What are your key motivations for doing the YTT?
Is a key motivation for you a hope to be able to change career and make a living from teaching yoga? If so - I’d really like to hear from you.

I’m [I]really [/I] interested in understanding how many students enrol because they hope to make a career change - and if you did the training but then found it really difficult to make anything like a decent living from this new skill?

Why am I asking?

Well - I’m a 64 year old yoga teacher - who completed my advanced training in India last February and who has been successfully building up my own classes and workshops for the last 2 years. I loved the training - but if I hadn’t already built up a business of my own previously, I’m not sure I’d know where to start - and I’m getting a bee in my bonnet about the number of teachers schools are churning out who are then struggling to make any kind of income - still working on their old jobs - covering classes for a bit of pin money at gyms and studios.

It seems such a shame - there are passionate and enthusiastic new teachers out there who could bring so much benefit to so many more students - but a lack of confidence or know how stops them from achieving their dream of making a living through yoga.

If any of this resonates for you I’d love to hear about your experiences/aspirations/challenges - perhaps use the following questions as a guide.
As a prospective yoga teacher:

  1. Did your teacher training give you any/enough support for the business side of teaching yoga? What was your experience?
    (If you are thinking of taking a YTT - are you looking for a course which does give some support with this side of the topic?)

  2. What things worry or concern you most about trying to make a reasonable income from yoga?

  3. If you had any burning questions about the business side of yoga you’d like answering, what would they be? (And if I can answer those questions - I will!)

Thank you! This will help me design support materials which can help aspiring yoga teachers master the business side of yoga.


#4

Susan hi and thank you for your response! Really appreciate your taking the time to do that.
I’d like to know more about your Institute - that sounds really interesting.How does that work?
And I’d love to learn how you generate income from your blogs. Do you have a link to your blogs?
I think many students would like to hear more about your experiences and how you successfully transitioned!
Be lovely to hear more!


#5

MP - thank you very much for responding! Really appreciate your taking the time to do so.

I’m not surprised the schools in India are doing well - anyone interested in yoga would love to come to the place which is the source. I did my 300 hour training in South East India - and loved it!

Couldn’t agree more about needing to be able to sell yourself! I think that’s the problem for a lot of teachers though - they’re not sure how to begin to make it a sustainable business for themselves.

Are you currently teaching? Would love to hear about your experiences of setting up and if you have managed to make it a sustainable income for yourself.

Best wishes - and thank you again.

Shona.


#6

I was certified when I was 17 years old. Three years later and I’m teaching yoga at the gym at my college. I absolutely love it and I can see myself teaching yoga for a very long time, but what I’m being paid is simply not a livable wage. I’m thankful to have some financial support from my parents still, but I get paid $10.25 per class no matter how many people show. My classes are normally 30-40 people. I wish I could feel as satisfied with my job fiscally as I am in every other respect.


#8

Thank you very much for your response - your story I think is all too common and I find it a shame. The stories I hear from other teachers who work at gyms is very similar to yours - you fill classes - but get paid very poorly - and in some cases treated not very well either.
If those 20 to 30 people were paying you direct for your expertise you would be able to make a living from your skills.
Sometimes it’s easy as yoga teachers to feel uncomfortable asking for remuneration - but we have invested often thousands of pounds and many many hours of our own time in order to try to develop our our practices, and learn how to teach others. We have a lot to offer - and the benefits we can bring to others is massive - and very rewarding.
May I ask - what holds you back from trying to start out on your own?

It’s these very challenges I want to try to help address - because it is possible to make a sustainable income - but, just as if you started any other career, there are things it’s useful to know/learn and have in place to help you build something which will not only sustain you - but last.

For you - and anyone else reading this thread - shout out your biggest challenges! What frustrates you or keeps you stuck - or worse - stops you from doing anything with your yoga teacher qualification??


#9

Sossi hi and thank you so much for getting in touch.
First - congratulations on becoming a teacher!! I find it really dispiriting that your teachers were telling you you’d need to supplement your teaching with other work!! That may indeed be the case in the beginning - but there is a way to transition - and build something of your own - it just takes a clear strategy and focus - and this is exactly what most yoga teacher training doesn’t teach us.

I also understand completely how it feels to be stuck in a job you hate - when I was on both of my teacher trainings there were at least a couple or more on those courses in exactly the same position - they were there because they didn’t feel happy or fulfilled doing what they were currently doing - they had found yoga helped - and they wanted not only to deepen their own practice but explore the possibility of changing career. I had built a business coaching - and I too was trying to transition from that to teaching yoga too - and it’s happened gradually over a couple of years - but it now sustains me enough to have quit the other business to focus on this. I KNOW it’s possible - but trying to work it out on your own with no help is incredibly time-consuming and people end up making mistakes - sometimes costly like yours - so they think they’re no good at it and give up. That’s SUCH a shame - because, with a few things in place - and a little clearer focus - they could have made it work.

OK - here’s a couple of questions I have for you - and a couple of tips.

First - you say you didn’t have much luck in the Canaries, despite a full on, costly promotion exercise.
a) Were you promoting “cold” - ie to people who had no clue who you were? (The truth is, this is the hardest type of promotion there is - not impossible - and that’s where I started - but if you’re going to do it - you need to have a few things in place first.)
b) How/what were you promoting? Were you just promoting a certain type of yoga?Tip: People don’t come to your classes because they want yoga - (in fact your average “newbie” student has NO clue about the difference between Ashtanga/Hatha or any other type of yoga!!) They’re coming for a deeper reason - and THAT is what you’re tapping into. They’re coming cos their jobs stress them out - and they think yoga might help. they’re coming because they’ve got a bad back - or they want to be more flexible; they’re coming because they like the idea of really powerful/strong hot yoga for challenging their bodies- or they’re sports people who are fit but not supple - making them more prone to injury -
there’s loads of reasons why we are drawn to yoga - and those are the things we are giving people - not yoga. Learning how to talk to your prospective students so they listen to you and think - “oh my god! I need to work with that teacher! She/he gets me.”

c) Did you have a clear idea of the type of students you wanted to attract to your sessions or are you thinking anyone who comes long? (Big mistake!! Me? I ONLY teach people in their mid life or later years. I specialise in that. One of my key strap lines is from the late Jim Rohn - "Take care of your body: it’s the ONLY place you have to live.) I teach students who accept they have to grow old - but don’t accept they have to grow infirm. I’m 65 - and the students attracted to me come because I hope I inspire them - and because they feel the same way I do. theyre strongly emotionally attached to the reason WHY they want to do yoga or think it will help.
Finding your own “niche” takes time - and your time in Sri Lanka might help you do that - BUT finding your niche is one the first steps I believe you need to take if you want to build a sustainable career from your passion. If you would like a free guide on how to work out your own niche please let me know - and I’ll send you the pdf - it’s part of other resources I’m trying to develop to help aspiring yoga teachers - and I’d love your feedback because it will hopefully help me design things which really help.

You might have come away from that whole episode feeling stung - I’ve been there - and it makes you pull back from trying again - but it’s not that you’ve failed. What’s more likely is that you just haven’t followed a few basic principles which would make it a little easier for you to attract people to you.

Enjoy Sri Lanka - it sounds exciting! And use it as a base from which you can do your own reflections, build on your skills and consider the teacher you want to become.

Good luck!
Thank you for getting in touch.

And I am in the process of setting up a Facebook group where like minded yogis can post questions/discuss issues around this whole topic of trying to develop a career out of yoga. I’ll post the link in the thread when it’s all ready - and anyone interested can join.

Good luck Sossi - don’t give up. There are probably hundreds of students who will benefit from what you can teach them.

Namaste,

Shona


#10

Obviously, experience is quite thrilling. When you doing something and you get to earn for your living also, it becomes a treat for you. Yoga is such a vast subject to study and very useful technique too to be get fit, healthy and very useful for your brain too.


Guru Yog Peeth Offers beginners Yoga ttc in India


#12

It’s sure yoga bring lots of energy, stamina, and fairness. When we do follow yoga practice with right pose and right posture at right time with relevant diet. Yoga gives amazing result while you are at any age or level, doesn’t matter. there is no any side effect if you practice in a correct way.
I see that sometimes people not follow instruction or posture & get injured. It’s more necessary yoga practice be care about your every pose or steps with concentrate your mind and focus balance on both body & mind!


#13

Shona. Thank you so much for the thoughtful response. You are absolutely right. I tell my students to live in their truth and live their best lives by asking for what they want, yet I find I’m not taking my own advice. What holds me back from trying to start out on my own? Fear. What if I don’t fill classes? What if I can’t find the right space? Blah blah blah. The truth is, starting my own studio is a dream of mine. Right now, I’m still 20 and I’m finishing my degree. That’s my first plan of action: graduate. But the world is my oyster and life is long! I have time to fullfil all my dreams and more.


#14

Nice anagram of fear:

Forget everything and run OR
Face everything and rise!

Honestly? I’ve learned no matter where you are fear always comes up - even my own mentors who are far more successful than me - still face that fear when they try to reach for something they still don’t have. It comes with the territory. Just keep doing the second thing - not the first! the more you face - the stronger you get and the more you learn and grow!

Graduating and finishing your course sounds like a good plan - but meanwhile - here’s one question for you:

What can you be doing to prepare for your dream?

Another of my favourite sayings:

If someone wants “A” to happen yet prepares for “B” they will ALWAYS get “B”.
Prepare for “A”.

And one tip - a studio is a BIG commitment - especially financially. My advice - don’t do that straight away. Get some other experience under your belt first.

All the best.
Shona


#15

Hello, I have been living full time as a yoga teacher for the past 5 and half years. I’ve been practicing for 12, and teaching for 7. I lead TTCs, and have previously owned my own studio. Here are some observations from my experience and witnessing other teachers make a living as yoga teachers.

1 - Most teachers struggle financially for the first couple of years. No college student typically lands their dream job right out of school, and the same applies to yoga teachers. For these first couple of years, you’ll develop your skill and your voice. Look at all the unnecessary expenses in your life, and downsize. It is not a reasonable expectation to maintain a lifestyle that might have developed prior to teaching yoga. This can be a humbling experience, and an opportunity for growth.

2 - Take every opportunity to continue learning through every avenue available to you: Additional TTC, workshops, retreats with good teachers, a mentorship with a senior teacher. Your 200 Hour TTC establishes you with the minimum qualifications to teach yoga. You’ll need to learn a lot more before you can offer more than drop in classes at a studio. When you develop the knowledge and confidence to teach workshops, host retreats, and offer specialized courses, then your financial successes in this profession will improve.

3 - You must be an entrepreneur and consider this a business if you want to teach yoga and be financially stable. That means you must learn to market yourself, take calculated risks, and sell your services for what they’re actually worth. Too many teachers are afraid of money, and offer their expertise far below value and even for free.

3.5 - As an addendum to being an entrepreneur, the more unique your offering, then the easier time you’ll have marketing it. It’s easier to market to a select smaller niche than it is to market to everyone. For example, I notice that the original poster of this thread is of an older demographic. Having a program aligned towards older populations, new to yoga, and with physical limitations separates you immediately from the pack of general jack-of-all-trades teachers. You’ll stand out from them.

4 - Maintain your practice, and allow the lessons from that practice to permeate all aspects of your life. I used to think that I would never obtain the splits pose, hanumanasana. I said “I have guy hips”, it will never happen. However, this did not deter me from practicing the pose. I practiced it anyway. The end result was not my goal, but rather the work of the pose itself was for its own sake. Low and behold, a few years ago I found that I could get pelvic floor all the way down now in this pose. What I learned along the way was not the splits, but the cultivation of persistence, dedication, and devotion.

Now, take this same perspective and scale it up. Don’t set out to teach yoga simply for the money. Teach because you have a calling to, and you love it. Don’t allow your lack of success to deter you from your effort. Keep awareness of where you want to be, and continually move in that direction day after day, week after week, month after month, and even year after year. One day you’ll look around and be amazed at where you wind up.

None of the successful teachers you know got to be where they are without years of effort, trial and error, and ups and downs.

It is still better to do what you love every day and just get by, than to be amazingly successful yet hate your life.

5 - Read, or re-read the Bhagavad-Gita. Everything I mentioned in point #4 is basically a summary of the lessons contained in that book.

Namaste


#16

Johnny thank you so much for your posting to this thread which is SO true. And you’re right - point 4 is where it all emanates - where your authenticity comes from - and students can tell - and they become loyal students. I’d love to use your post as a guest blog - might you be amenable to that?
I’m trying to develop support for new, aspiring teachers - and stories and the experiences of others who are also on that path are both illuminating and inspiring.
Please message me privately if you would be open to that.
Meanwhile, thank you once again for taking the time to post such a thoughtful response.
Shona