If you’re interested in teaching yoga, or concerned if you can make a living as a yoga teacher, then you’re not alone. A student recently asked me a question about how to make a living as a full time yoga teacher. Below is my response to that question.
“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 Yoga Teacher Training Certifications and have previously owned my own studio. Here are some observations from my experience and from witnessing other teachers make a 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.
No college student typically lands their dream job right out of school, and the same applies to yoga teachers.
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.
Seek Additional Training Beyond Your 200 Hour
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.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, you’ll have an easier time marketing your program if it is unique. It’s easier to market to a select, smaller niche than it is to market to everyone. For example, the student who asked the question that led to this post is of an older demographic. A program aligned towards older populations, new to yoga, and with physical limitations will separate you immediately from the pack of general jack-of-all-trades teachers. You’ll stand out from them.
Your Practice Is the Cornerstone of All That You Do!
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 to myself “I have guy hips, it will never happen.”
However, this did not deter me from practicing the pose. I practiced it anyway. Since I never thought that doing the splits was possible, the splits itself was not my goal. I worked on the pose anyway for its own sake – hip opening. Low and behold, a few years ago I started to get my pelvic floor all the way to the floor in this pose. The lesson that I learned along the way was not the splits itself, 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 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.
Read, or re-read the Bhagavad-Gita. Everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph is basically a summary of the lessons contained in that book.
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.
It is better to do what you LOVE every day, than to be amazingly successful yet dissatisfied with your life.”