I’m Changing Careers – I’m Going to Stop Teaching Yoga as a Profession

I’m changing careers and I feel weird talking about it. I’m going to stop teaching yoga as a profession. The thing is, teaching yoga is not just “a job”, it’s been an identity. For over 10 years I’ve called myself a yoga teacher. I’m not sure what comes next, but I need to get this off my chest, and I could use a little help.

Stop Teaching Yoga

Why I’m Quitting

Every job or career has aspects to it that you don’t enjoy. For me, it’s the marketing and constant self promotion that is required to teach yoga at a high level.

When I first started teaching in 2011-12, I would say that about 85% of my time was spent teaching, and about 15% was spent in promotion. Since covid, I feel that these percentages have flipped. I teach and create courses about 15% of the time, and try to market myself 85% of the time. I didn’t set out on this career to be an online marketer, and I’ve been trying to reconcile my feelings about this for a while.

The constant self promotion that is required is never ending: write newsletters, create blog posts, record YouTube clips, conceptualize Instagram and Facebook posts, and then cross post all of these things into different Facebook groups, websites and forums, and run them on paid ads.

This work is necessary because teacher training, retreats, and online courses don’t sell themselves. At least for me, they never have.

Covid was very hard on the yoga industry and made the chore of this constant promotion even worse. Prior to the pandemic, I could run ads on Facebook and Google, and make a weekly post about what I was doing, and I would sell enough to keep the career train rolling. But, when the pandemic forced everybody online, the competition for people’s attention has become BRUTAL!

I feel like I’ve reached my lifetime limit of self promotion, and I can’t do it anymore. Regardless, what I’m doing isn’t working and I’ve lost the motivation to keep coming at it from different angles in an attempt to find a way that works now.

You might wonder why I just don’t teach classes at a studio. Well, teaching only drop-in classes was never a good way to “make a living”. However, moving to a country where I can barely speak the native language, and living in a city where there is only one yoga studio prevents teaching drop-ins full time as a possibility anyway. It’s my own fault that I’m in this situation, but even if I were in a city with more yoga studios, I don’t want to go back to that. I’m done.

A few pivotal memories from this chapter of my life: Standing outside my studio right before it opened; with Noah Mazé, my mentor and 300 hour teacher; with Anant Singh, my pranayama teacher; above the Ganges in Rishikesh; Ananda Yoga & Detox Center, where I lived and taught for 5 years.

To My Students

To my students I simply want to say “THANK YOU!” It would take me an entire book to summarize it any other way.

I taught yoga on 3 continents, to students from more than 40 countries. I was the head instructor of 19 teacher trainings, and a lead instructor in 4 other trainings, and taught altogether thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of classes, workshops and lectures. This chapter of my life has been without comparison THE BEST chapter of my life so far.

Teaching yoga allowed me to go places and do things I never imaged I would be able to prior to this experience. Profound is a word that barely does it justice.

Special Thanks to my teachers, and to the assistant teachers of my teacher trainings: Noah Maze, Jill Knouse, Alison Alstrom, Anant Singh; Ali Choi, Melissa Scheinwald, Jane Bakx, Ginger Susanne Reinelt, Tonya McGauley, Surya Shivjot, Irina Busurina, Sarah Short, Kate Dulgeroff, Teal Grenney, Rose Lindemann, Franciska Bodnár, Jessica Winkle, Laura Blain, Elena Tonelli, Emily Owen, and Rachel Kang.

And, thanks to Vangelis Syrigos, my business partner and former owner of Ananda Yoga & Detox Center on Koh Phangan.

Graduation Photos from Teacher Trainings

What I Want to Be Next

I want to stay in Europe. Particularly, I want to stay in Italy at least until my wife is able to obtain her citizenship through marriage (probably two more years). However, I am open to moving wherever I can find a decent job.

Jobs with a living wage aren’t that abundant here, or accessible to someone who is not conversationally fluent in Italian. I feel that it would be “relatively” easy to find a job in the States, but that’s really my last resort.

I have a lot of great skills that I’ve developed over the past 15 years:

  • I’ve created, managed, and marketed online courses, and facilitated adult learning experiences online and in-person;
  • I’ve managed a resort with an international staff;
  • I’ve owned and managed a yoga and fitness studio with a staff, and all of the things related to that, particularly in management and small business human resources;
  • I’ve worked in a corporate environment and mastered office and email etiquette and communication, business writing, and possess acute attention to detail.

Ideally, whatever I do next will allow me to utilize all of these skills and experiences. So, for the first time in over a decade I’ve revamped my LinkedIn, fine tuned my CV (resume), and I’m working the job boards for hours a day.

For the moment, I’m calling myself a Training Specialist. I feel that my skill set would be ideal to work with a company’s HR staff to create in-house training programs for their staff and employees.

How You Can Help

This post is mainly about informing my students and friends what’s going on with me, but there are a couple of things that you might be able to do if you can, or sympathize with my situation:

  1. If you, or someone you know is hiring someone with my skills (especially remotely), then consider this a shout out that… I’m available!
  2. Since I worked for myself for such a long time, I’ve neglected my LinkedIn connections. If you’re active on that social network, I could really use more connections! https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnny-nasello/

On the Bright Side, In Regards to Yoga

Johnny and Ali

For a long time I’ve struggled with one of the key teachings of the ancient texts. That is to remain unattached from the outcome of your efforts. Going back 5,000 years to the first known yogic texts, the teachings describe attachment as the source of suffering and as an impediment to finding one’s true inner peace.

When your livelihood is dependent upon the sale of your courses and retreats, it’s nearly impossible to remain detached from those outcomes. Your practice itself becomes a commodity, and I’ve never been fully able to practice my yoga with that kind of detachment for as long as I’ve been trying to make money from it.

Admittedly, I’m kind of excited about practicing simply for the sake of my practice. It will be a pure joy to do my practices only for myself, without the overriding need to repackage them to be sold.

Just to be clear, while I am going to stop teaching yoga as a profession, I will always be a yogi. I’m too far down that rabbit hole to ever turn back! Wish me luck. I might need some.

About The Author

1 thought on “I’m Changing Careers – I’m Going to Stop Teaching Yoga as a Profession”

  1. Dear Johnny,
    Welcome to the new and exciting chapter of your life’
    The chapter you’re living is always the best one.

    I am grateful and honoured to have been your student. You inspired and continue to inspire me!

    Thank you for your honesty and transparency and for saying out loud what many of us feel. For now we just have to keep our practice “undercover” in (what are still considered as) “conventional jobs” when deep down we know our only “job” is to shine our light! A time is coming when this is increasingly more evident for all humans on Earth. This is the next phase of our “training” when we have to “blend in” in “established everyday life events” in order to energetically support our planet. #mysticswithoutborders

    With love and respect,
    Nat

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