If you’re interested in teaching yoga, or concerned if you can make a living as a yoga teacher, then you’re not alone.
Many yoga teachers wish that they could teach yoga full time, and others think about trying. Yet, many teachers do teach yoga full time and thrive in it.
It is truly a blessing to be able to find yourself in a state of being where your passion and your career intersect.
I have been living full time as a yoga teacher since 2012. I’ve been practicing for over 12 years, and teaching yoga for over 8. I have experienced every stage of this career, from freelance teacher teaching drop in classes and private instruction in the city, to studio owner, lead yoga teacher trainer, and program director at a yoga school that I established at a resort in Thailand.
I have graduated students from over 30 countries in my yoga teacher training courses.
Here are some observations from my experiences and from what I’ve witnessed other teachers going through, as well as feedback from my students about living as yoga teachers.
Growth, Your Voice, & Humility
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 personal growth.
Yoga Teacher Career Year 1-2
In your first 2 years of teaching, you’ll make most of your money teaching studio classes, and private instruction.
This is where your skills are sharpened and your ideas and techniques developed. It’s hard to make a full time living from teaching only studio classes, but all teachers start here. If studio classes are your only yoga teaching income, you’ll possibly need to teach 12-18 classes per week!
Average income estimates can vary considerably depending on region and city.
- $/€20-40 per Class
- $/€3-6 Per Student
In private instruction you’ll offer special, individualized instruction to a student. Get information about what the student needs, and provide that to them. Generally taught like a private 60-90 minute workshop than a group class. Basically, it’s a personal training session. If you use a studio’s space, or they refer the student, they will take a percentage.
- $/€40-60 for newer teachers
- $/€60-150 for experienced teachers.
Seek Additional Yoga Education Beyond Your 200 Hour Training
Take every opportunity to continue learning through every avenue available to you:
- Additional Yoga Teacher Trainings,
- Yoga Workshops,
- Yoga Retreats with Good Teachers,
- Mentor with a Senior Teacher.
Your 200 Hour Teacher Training Certification 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.
A Full Time Yoga Teacher Is An Entrepreneur
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.
Learn to market the uniqueness of your program. What demographic or niche is particularly served through your style of teaching? Perhaps you are a specialist in older populations, students who are new to yoga, or those with physical limitations. This can separate you from generalist teachers. You’ll stand out from them.
Yoga Teacher Career Year 2-6
In the next years of your teaching career, you’ll develop the knowledge, confidence, and skill to teach more complex format classes, and facilitated education.
Workshops & Master Classes
Workshops and Master Classes are 2.5 to 3 hour sessions that go much more in depth into any yoga topic. These classes allow you to teach at a premium rate to a whole class of students.
The studio generally takes 30-40% depending on your level of experience and how many students you can guarantee to bring in. Workshops can include a practice and a lecture portion, but they can also be long marathon classes around a particular subject.
You can be as creative as you want to be with workshops. Some teachers rent private spaces that aren’t associated with any particular studio, and bring in musicians and/or catering for the event, or team up with other teachers or brands that will help promote the event.
- $/€40-65 per student
As your student base grows, retreats are a fantastic way to see a real growth in your income potential.
Start small and local. Rent a few rooms at a nearby coast, mountain or forest lodge or retreat center for a weekend, and reserve a private space there for your yoga classes. Get 5-10 people to sign up and commit to it. You’ll need to determine your costs ahead of time so that you can recruit enough people at a rate that pays for your entire weekend.
As you get the hang of organizing these weekend retreats, you’ll advance to week long getaways to more grand locations.
- $/€400-1500 per student minus expenses
Your Practice Is the Cornerstone of All That You Do!
Maintain your practice, and look for the deeper lessons from that practice. Allow them to permeate all aspects of your life.
Learning the splits pose, hanumanasana, taught me a lot about perseverance, dedication, and devotion.
I didn’t think that this pose would ever be possible for me. I used to tell myself that I had “Guy Hips.” I practiced it anyway. I worked on the pose for its own sake – hip opening, because I knew I needed that and it was good for me.
Low and behold, 8 years into my practice I started to get my pelvic floor all the way to the floor in this pose.
This lesson taught me that if you keep doing what you love, if you work every day at improving what you can do, then one day you will look around and be absolutely amazed at where you wind up.
My teaching career has followed a similar trajectory. I started teaching because I loved yoga, and despised my previous career in corporate insurance. I wanted to spend my valuable time in a career that fulfilled me. For as long as I’ve been chipping away at it: day after day, month after month, and year after year, I have continued to find growth and opportunity.
Granted, finding opportunity and taking hold of it are two seperate things.
I am very happy in my career and in my life right now, and some of you may think that I have the dream job, which I do. But know that this stage of my career did not happen by accident, but is the result of many years of consistent movement into this direction.
Yoga Teacher Career Year 7+
When I taught my first yoga teacher training, I had no doubt in my mind that I was ready to teach it. I felt that all of my trainings and workshops, and my experience as a teacher and yoga studio manager had prepared me to teach what I know in an expanded training format.
Yoga Teacher Trainings
When you develop your skills to expert levels, then your yoga teaching career can become very lucrative. If you have a strong following of students, then you can organize your own teacher trainings entirely. You’ll keep all of the earnings beyond the expenses of the program. If you are employed by a studio, yoga school/center, or resort, then you can negotiate 30-50% of the revenue. Gross and net revenue will be part of the terms of that agreement.
Geography and entrepreneurship will determine if you teach one of these per year in your local studio, or hold multiple trainings around the world.
- $/€5,000-30,000 per training
If you set out to teach yoga simply for the money, then I fear the first few years will be a real challenge for you. They will be challenging regardless of your motivation.
Teach yoga because you have a calling to, and you love it! Don’t allow any lack of initial 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 that you know got to be where they are without years of effort, trial and error, and ups and downs.
May everything that you learn along the way, propel and guide you into what comes next.