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Can Yoga Teachers Teach Full-Time AND Pay the Bills?

Yoga Money

Friends often ask me if it's possible to make a living as a full-time yoga teacher. I always say absolutely! But at times it can be a hard road to venture down.

As a newer teacher (under the five year mark), I feel much more secure maintaining a full-time job outside the yoga studio and teaching on the side. (I'm also lucky enough to work for Yoga Journal where I can continue feeding my yoga passion every day in a different format.)

I have other teacher friends who I can barely drag out of the studio. They teach ten to twenty classes a week and sometimes more, if the opportunity arises. They work hard and make enough to make ends meet through sheer number of classes. And they love what they do. But I'm not so sure this excess outpour of teaching energy is sustainable. I've seen it lead to burn out more than once.

And then there's the Uber-Teachers. You know the ones -- they teach four classes a week and pull in enough people to fill a stadium. They're doing well and so they should. They're great teachers, well loved, and they are getting compensated for what they do.

So my question is -- how do teachers make the jump from teaching as many classes as they CAN to make ends meet to teaching as many classes as they WANT instead? At what point and in what way does yoga teaching transform into a job that is just as monetarily sustainable as being a banker or a web designer or a school teacher for that matter?

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I think the important thing to keep in mind when teaching is your intention. If one is teaching full time its important to keep the money flowing which is just a energy form in return for what you are sharing. To let go of the fear of money plan and take daily action on your plan,keeping your love and passion and right intention in the forefront is essential.As when one is free from fear and is connected on a soul level creativity and energy just flows. If one then applies their creativity passion and love for what they do the money just flows and it never becomes a job as yoga is a gift and lifestyle.Its only when one gets entangled in negative mind stuff that fear based burn out and lack unfolds. Its all a concept of how you see and live life internalise stress or calm and live each moment. If one feels like their teaching has become a job its just how they are conceptualising what they are doing same with boredom its just an egoic state of conciousness. If one is living and practicing yoga you just are present . When one is present and connected on a soul level as a challenge crops up one is open to tapping into creative source or a solution .When one stays present and positive one sustains energy,creativity and the gift of yoga to share with their community. Love and blessings Jane Ribinskas Director Yogaconcepts with Yogaconceptsonline your online yoga studio

how do teachers make the jump from teaching as many classes as they CAN to make ends meet to teaching as many classes as they WANT instead? It's all depends on the budget, how much money one needed to survive in one week, perhaps to become a yoga teacher, one must know the rule of investing because earnings from teaching yoga not very consistent so then they can become a yoga teacher pure of enjoyment not because they have to do it to make a living.

At what point and in what way does yoga teaching transform into a job that is just as monetarily sustainable as being a banker or a web designer or a school teacher for that matter? - to fully transform yoga teaching to create wealth (see Rodney Yee or Shiva Rea), then they must implement the strategic business marketing, advertising, Public Relation, accounting, cash flow analysist and most importantly team work.

I'm not a Yoga teacher, but most of my Yoga blogosphere friends are, so I listen in on discussions about this all the time.

I'm not sure there is anything that would make the current situation change. The demand for Yoga is growing, but the number of Yoga teachers is growing at the same or faster rate.

I feel reluctant to talk about Yoga in pure economic terms, because I know for most teachers it is a life passion turned into a full or part time profession. But your question is about the business of Yoga. So one can't really answer the question without thinking about the cold hard economics.

The only way average Yoga compensation would go up is if there weren't enough Yoga teachers to go around, and the studios had to compete for them. But that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

So I think the situation will remain pretty much as it is, and Yoga teachers will continue to have to make the difficult life dilemmas you describe so well in your blog above.

For the sake of all my Yoga teacher friends, I wish there were a way to change those economics, but right now I don't see how that would happen.

I'm looking forward to see what other people have to say.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

Namaskar,

Great article - thanks Hannah - important questions of the day.

As a teacher who now teaches 15 - 20+ classes a week, 50+ weeks a year, I can easily relate to the many valued points you raise. I administer all my own classes as Renaissance Yoga (www.renyoga.com) and try to keep things creative, new, and dynamic, complemented by as much meditation as possible, to avoid any feelings of burnout.

That said - how to make the jump to less classes.

My feeling is that one must teach consistently and often in order to create that larger yoga community. Those around me teaching one class a week are still doing like that years later - and that may well be their choice. I have gone from 1 class a week to 15 - 20+ within 4 yrs, and this expansion has given me much opportunity for diversity: more people, more types of classes, wider audience and venues. I do not have or want "a day job" and prefer to teach yoga full-time - my choice.

Personally, as I see it, unless one has a some famous type of sponsorship etc, I am not aware of any other way to go in order to build that strong base and hence larger clientel. It needs s solid grassroots base and then things can sprout from there.

One other point, I administer all my own classes so that allows for less overhead and more income. I am not aware of what yoga studios pay contracted teachers, but I think if one can manage on their own then that leads to a more livable income.

Just my small perspective on a tough issue...

...all of this of course begs the larger question: What is / should be the relationship between business and yoga. That of course is another topic, and a recurring one at that.

Thanks Hannah for the thoughtful post about "how to make it" as a yoga teacher.

Satyam

p.s. I should also add that I live an extremely simple life - my financial needs are few - that takes much of the pressure off. In turn, I charge less for classes and get larger turnouts, which of course increases revenue. If one had big financial pressures, I am not sure how it would be done.

I am in the process of trying to do this now. This is a second career for me, I am coming from an advertising background and moving to "fitness" as an occupation and lifestyle compatible with raising two kids, now teens. I also teach Pilates and have a personal training certification. I have doubled my teaching and training hours in the past three months. I think it may be possible to do this as a viable method of earning a living but, at age 50, I wonder if I have the physical stamina.

Pertinent questions for this day and age.
I can tell you, the answers and the problems vary. As an Iyengar instructor making a full time living teaching, I do feel very blessed. Yet this time in my life didn't come easily and continues to be an ever changing dance. One must learn to be flexible, mentally and spiritually. As a householder, raising 2 children in this ridiculously expensive city of Vancouver BC, I couldn't do it if my partner didn't have a flexible schedule. I have been teaching for about 8 years and have taken the steps to work exclusively for myself. I pay rent at various studios and do the admin/publicity/ registration on my own. So far so good.
At the rec centers I'm at, I work on a percentage basis, so it is up to me to draw the students and earn a living. I try to say I am going to "teach" rather than I am going to "work", keeps it more soft and authentic I find.
It is my work though, and I work at being a great teacher. I invest in workshops, equipment (hundreds., thousands...) classes, books, insurance.
It's a juggle for sure, and I must now run to teach!
Dhana
www.Dhana.ca

$10 per class with 10 students is $100. Do this five days a week and make $500. One class lasts approx 1 hour so you only need to work an hour a day giving the rest of the day to improving your practice and doing good works (karma yoga). In addition to this offer your services for spiritual retreats and boot camps and charge between $55 to $75 per hour. If you are in cottage country you will get lots of summer work doing family yoga and because you go to them you can charge even more. If you make them happy then the price is right. Gear the price according to what they can afford; ie; professionals pay more and even do donations only for those that can't afford it. I guess if there are many yoga studios to choose from you must offer something unique. In my area yoga classes run during the day. I run mine in the evening. I am also the only guy in the area and many are curious about doing yoga with a male especially because I offer spiritual practices instead of fitness only.

As a teacher, I know the need to teach 20 classes a week, and still try to function outside of the studio. But I believe that there is always a need to teach as much as you can. Even if it's not for the money. I own a studio, and I wish I could just go back to being an instructor. There was no pressure on the amount of classes I taught beacuse they're was no need to make the money. Now after every week, I'm screaming show me the money. When I started teaching in 2005 I did it because I LOVED sharing the experience, and that is still the way I feel. But I also have to be aware that the bills need to be paid, and in some respects it has made yoga a job, and not my peace space. I wish I could teach four classes a week, and then practice with my husband, and daughter, but I don't have time. I'm teaching until I want to sleep right on the sweaty hardwood floors of a empty studio. Once you become a teacher, there is another experience you get from it, and unless your just one of the lucky people... You'll have to keep the classes coming to pay the bills.

these posts speak to the age-old issue of separating oneself from the matrix of society while remaining functional within it. this is especially a problem in the modern west, and the yoga studio model is one way to square the circle of yoga and survival. briana, there is indeed a problem with what Joseph Campbell called 'following your bliss,' because when you bliss becomes livelihood, bliss becomes work. the karma yoga philosophy can help, but cultivating the perspective requires a great deal of sustained focus. i taught yoga philosophy at university for many years, and found a similar phenomenon.

thanks to everyone for all the great comments - much appreciated

om shantih

I know that I'm very late to the discussion, but as a yoga practitioner, who doesn't have enough energy at the end of a long terrible day in a cubicle to go home and do the yoga that would prepare me for my goal of becoming a yoga teacher, I envy those of you whose bliss has become work. I in no way wish to diminish the issue, because it is one that I consider right alongside the economic question mark, but truly truly truly, I would take a diminished, even a tarnished, bliss a thousand times, rather than this hell warmed over I live in 40 hours a week. Six months, I tell myself....only six months more (I hope). I make $20,000 a year now, which is barely enough to get by and save for certification. If I can make that teaching yoga, I will be very nearly thrilled.



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