By Jane Mason
Jane lives and works in India and is part of the yoga.in team. She is trained in vinyasa, hatha, viniyoga and prana vashya yoga, having practised with many teachers and explored different techniques around the world. She is currently completing her 500-hour yoga teacher training as well as training in yoga therapy. Here she shares some tips for yoga teachers who are just starting out, or for those who are looking for inspiring ideas on how to thrive as a yoga teacher.
“How do I survive on my earnings as a yoga teacher?” This is a dilemma that confronts many yoga teachers. The annual income for this profession is reported to be 41% lower than that of any other salaried position posted on job sites. When you consider that $30 is the average income per yoga class it would take ten classes per week to earn even a basic wage. No wonder most yoga teachers struggle to survive financially because teaching with such regularity will usually result in “burn out.”
So why have an ever-growing number of people chosen to teach yoga? The motivation is most certainly the power of this practice, and a testimony to the desire to spread the benefits of yoga to a wider community.
So if you are a teacher of yoga, how can you achieve financial independence while doing what you are passionate about?
Here are our top ten tips for surviving and thriving as a yoga teacher:
1. If you are starting your own business, get some start-up training: We would not imagine teaching yoga without intensive training and education. So why would we think we could run a business before gaining the knowledge to do so by the same methods? Small business courses are designed to help any new business owner understand the basics of business and how to optimize chances of business success. Try to do one of these courses before you start up your own business. Earning an income from your practice is not incompatible with your yogic principles – it is a way to enable you to continue to deliver the practice to a wide community.
Business courses will give you the generic skills you need to:
– Manage your finances and understand the importance of having a projected cash flow and profit and loss so that you can be aware of the ongoing viability of your business and there are no surprises along the way.
– Market your business and expand your client base by developing new markets such as corporates, the elderly, kids, etc,. This specialization will help you grow and open up an entirely new source of income.
2. Run workshops: Many teachers struggle to survive from teaching standard classes. Workshops are a great way to earn money and also expand and deepen your knowledge and teaching repertoire.
3. Run retreats: If you have a circle of like-minded yogis, try organizing a retreat. This is a great way to build a community. With the right group of teachers, you can learn from each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses.
4. Mix it up: Mix your classes between group and individual classes. You can earn as much or more in private sessions as group sessions and this can ease the class load and reduce the chance of burn out.
5. Continuing education: Don’t stop there. Once you are up and running you need to keep focused. Continue to grow and thrive through experience and continual learning. The more experience and knowledge you have the more employable you are.
6. Networking: Networking is a way to reach out to the wide community and get to know people. It is another way to maintain continuity in your sales growth.
7. Jobs relating to yoga: There are ways to be involved in the yoga community without teaching classes all day. Look into yoga bodies and alliances, magazines or websites.
8. Taking it to the next level: It is not for everyone but there are endless possibilities such as DVDs, books, podcasts….some teachers even have agents to book events and help promote their yoga material.
And finally, where better to seek guidance than the yoga sutras:
9. Abhyasa (“a spiritual practice which is regular and constant”): It is all yoga, whether on the mat or running your yoga business, determined effort, practice and discipline are necessities.
10. Vairagya (detachment): Try not to focus on the money and be attached to this outcome, as it will affect your judgment and likely your teaching. Apply appropriate effort and surrender to the outcome. Remember why you do this…for the love of yoga.
Photographs by Coni Hörler.