It sounds too good to be true: making a living by following your passion. Starting a yoga teacher career is the dream of many dedicated yogis. It provides the opportunity to earn money by helping other people to physical and mental well-being, mindfulness and inner peace, by spreading health and happiness.
While the first step – taking a yoga teacher training – is easy, there are a few things you should consider before you quit your job and follow your dream. And although dreaming big certainly helps to reach your goal, before you aim at becoming an internationally recognized yoga teacher like our TINT instructors, there are some fundamental questions to think about.
We asked 7 professional yoga teachers to answer the following 8 questions:
These 7 professional yoga teachers already successfully followed the path to fulfill their dream of starting a yoga teacher career. They work either part-time or full-time as a yoga teacher and some of them even run their own yoga studio.
1. How Can I Find Teaching Jobs?
If you’re new to teaching yoga, you may want to start teaching at fitness studios rather than yoga studios because, usually, the standards are lower. This is because most of the participants only look for a good stretch rather than a sophisticated yoga practice.
The best way to gain a foothold in yoga or fitness studios is to start with subbing at studios – and be so good that they want to have you for regular classes. Get in touch with the studios and fitness centers in your area.
A great idea is visiting studios as a student to make contact with the studio owners or teachers and offer to sub classes. Many places have even established email distribution lists for subbing classes. This could be the beginning of making a name for yourself and finding regular classes.
Another useful advice is to start teaching on a regular basis as soon as you have finished your yoga teacher training. This can even be a small private group that you teach just for the purpose of practicing and getting used to teaching. This way, you’ll be ready and prepared once a studio is looking for teachers so you can start teaching straight away.
"The secret to getting ahead is getting started."
— Mark Twain
Also, connect to yoga teachers who inspire you and already found their way. Talk to them and ask for support and inspiration. And you never know when someone might need a cover for a yoga class. And last but not least: Give it time and be patient.
2. How Much Preparation Do I Need For My Yoga Classes?
When you start teaching, you may think that you have to come up with fancy sequences, new poses, and creative transitions in every class. However, the reality looks different. Some students may even be grateful for consistency and are happy to practice something they’re familiar with.
You can also build a repertoire of yoga classes that each have a different focus. So you’ll maybe have a hip-opening yoga class, a yoga session for neck and shoulders, a yoga class that focuses on core strength, a refreshing morning yoga class or a relaxing evening yoga class, etc. This allows you to alternate between the different session formats, giving variety to your classes without having to build an entirely new yoga class plan every time.
The best preparation is your own practice. Take some time before a yoga class and make up your mind about what you want to teach. Ask yourself what you would be looking for as a student. And ask yourself what you can offer your students. Be honest with yourself and only teach what you feel comfortable with. If you feel uneasy about what you’re teaching, your students will notice and your yoga class will probably be shaky.
The amount of preparation you put into a yoga class also depends on the type of class you want to teach. A Vinyasa class, for example, needs to be sequenced to a specific peak pose or theme, like opening the front side. In addition, you may want to put together a playlist that fits the peak pose and transfers the energy you want to achieve.
An Inside Flow yoga class requires even more preparation. You’ll first need to find a song before you create the flow. This may even take a few days. Once the flow is finished, the preparation of the actual yoga class begins, i.e. building the alignment and sequencing part of the class. You also want to make sure that you have a playlist that fits the energy of the final song and a story that speaks to the audience. This means that teaching yoga styles like Inside Flow needs much more preparation and creative time.
For other classes, it might be enough to have a theme or focus in mind and create a rough class plan around that. This gives you the flexibility to adapt to the class format, the length of the class, and the group you’re teaching.
Your preparation also depends on the kind of person you are, i.e. whether you’re a planner or not. You may feel safer when you have thought your yoga class through beforehand. However, remember that it's also important not to get too attached to your plans as teaching often requires spontaneity and flexibility to adapt to the situation and the students that are actually in front of you.
3. How Much Do I Need to Work to Make a Living?
First of all, that depends on whether you work as a full-time or part-time yoga teacher. While your workload and the pressure to make enough money may be lower as a part-time teacher, be prepared to work hard to earn a living as a full-time yoga teacher.
Both options, working as a part-time yoga teacher and working full time, have their challenges.
As a part-time yoga teacher, you have to manage the balancing act between the responsibilities in your main job and your yoga teaching. Depending on the workload in your main job, you may have more or less time and energy left for your teaching.
If teaching yoga is your main profession and source of income, the pressure of having to earn a living may create additional stress and may lead to the circumstance that you’re almost constantly busy with yoga – be it on the yoga mat teaching, with your own practice, or with preparing new projects or spending time with administrative stuff.
You also have to factor in the time to travel from one class to the next. In any way, teaching yoga requires a lot more energy – both physically and mentally – than many people think. Even though this may be your dream job, it’s not (always) a piece of cake, making drive and passion even more important on this path.
4. Do I Have to Use Social Media?
Well, first of all, you don’t have to do anything. But using social media definitely helps to increase your reach. All the yoga teachers we've interviewed use social media to some extent as part of their business tools as a yoga teacher. Some even have a private page and a business page on both Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook, for example, is a great tool to create events to promote your yoga classes or workshops. You can even share your events in different Facebook groups to even further increase your reach.
You can also post your weekly teaching schedule every week or use it to give your students some inspiration or insights about upcoming events. Maybe you even want to share your private life to some extent.
Storytelling and good photos help your students to better connect with you. However, be aware of sharing too much personal stuff on social media. Remember that it still is a business tool that you should use with the required proficiency.
Social media tools also are a great way to reach out to and stay in touch with other yoga teachers and to find sources of inspiration for your yoga classes and your own yoga practice. Sometimes, a picture of a forgotten asana or an inspiring caption will spark an idea for one of your next classes.
Posting frequency among the teachers we've interviewed varies from twice a week to every day. It’s hard to define a rule of thumb here. Find a schedule that works best for you. However, regularity is king!
5. How Do I Keep Up With My Own Practice?
In general, all our interviewees recommend to roll out your yoga mat and start to practice whenever possible. Try to do at least 10 minutes every day and extend your practicing time when you have more time. Use your self-practice for things you want to teach in your upcoming classes so that you have it fresh and can teach from this experience.
Maintaining an own yoga practice is important to stay fit yourself and to get new inspiration. It’s also a good idea to attend yoga classes as a student yourself. Try to pick 1-2 classes a week and give them a firm place in your weekly schedule to make sure the time is there. This gives you some intense practicing time for yourself where you can fully focus on your own practice.
If you find it hard to find time for your own yoga practice during the week in between your own yoga classes, all the administration stuff, and family and friends, use the weekends to attend yoga sessions yourself.
It’s also important to inform yourself about other yoga styles and to continue your studies. There are always new findings regarding alignment and anatomy. Staying up to date is not only essential for your own practice but also for your students.
If you don’t find the time at all to go to regular classes in a yoga studio, you can also practice at home and use online yoga platforms such as TINT for your practice.
However, with all the good intentions, the key to maintaining a regular self-practice is to take the pressure out of it. If you’re not the person for an early-morning yoga practice, allow yourself to do the practice at any time of day that fits in your schedule. This way, you’re much more likely to stick to your own yoga practice and keep it fun.
6. What Are The Biggest Challenges I Need to Face?
Even though being a yoga teacher may be your dream job, there will still be a number of challenges that you’ll have to face.
First of all, there’s the problem of financial stability, not to mention saving money for future times. When you’re self-employed or working as a freelancer (or even run your own yoga studio!) you’re always depended on the demand for yoga classes. There’s no big employer behind you paying your monthly salary, regardless of the current demand. And if you’re on holiday or sick, you won’t earn any money at all.
Another big challenge many of the interviewed yoga teachers face is time. Making sure that there’s enough time for self-practice and creativity, time for dealing with the needs of your clients or your studio, and taking care of your own personal life becomes a juggling act.
Plus, if you teach part-time and have a “main job”, you also need to find the time to fulfill all your responsibilities there. There will certainly be days when you’ll wonder when to find time to practice for yourself.
"Obstacles are those frightful things we see when we take our eyes off our goal."
— Henry Ford
The funny thing is that most people assume that, as a yoga teacher, you don’t need time for your own practicing since you’re doing yoga all day anyway. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you’re teaching yoga, you’re not actually practicing for your own benefit. Your main focus is to look after students and how they’re doing. Teaching a yoga class is never the same as practicing on your own or attending a yoga class as a student.
The third thing many yoga teachers struggle with is being a constant energy provider and being always on the spot. This can be tough, especially in times when your own energy is low because you have a stressful time, are dealing with your own problems or when you’re sick.
Therefore, it’s important to make time for yourself to relax and recharge. You also have to learn (if you’re struggling with this) to distance yourself from your student’s problems.
As a yoga teacher, you may quickly become some kind of a confidant for your students. However, while it’s good to lend a sympathetic ear to your students, don’t let all your energy subside to solve their problems. Only give as much as you can handle to give.
Another factor you may struggle with is comparison. Especially when you're new to teaching and trying to find your individual style and your own voice, it's easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself and your teaching to all of the other – supposedly better – teachers out there.
The increasing use of social media certainly plays a contributing role in this. Remind yourself that every one of us has something unique to offer, and the students who want precisely that will find their way to you. You will never be able to please everyone.
The most important thing is to find a way of teaching that feels authentic to you. It is precisely this authenticity that will attract the students who are made for you.
Don't forget that, as a yoga teacher, you do not only have responsibility for your own body and practice but also for your students and their mental and physical health. So it's your duty as a yoga teacher to study and fully understand the science of applied anatomy and philosophy.
7. What If I Feel Burned Out From Teaching Yoga?
Be prepared that, no matter how big your passion for teaching yoga is, there may be times when it’s hard to go out there and teach. This may be due to different – personal or professional – reasons and can happen in any job. This feeling will probably subside once you’re teaching and you’ll feel uplifted after teaching.
However, if that feeling continues or even aggravates, it may be a good idea to take a break from teaching yoga for a while. Take a short trip and attend some workshops or trainings outside your usual environment to keep the passion for teaching yoga alive.
Reminding yourself of your goals and visions in times when you feel tired and empty can also help to refuel your enthusiasm for yoga. Our interviewees report that, when they see how yoga touches the hearts and souls of their participants, they remember their Why: Why they’re doing what they do.
It also helps to surround yourself with supporters and inspiring persons. Spending time with people that lift each other up and who want to see each other grow will give you a lot of energy.
There may also be a correlation between your passion for teaching and your own practice. When you’re teaching so much (and fulfilling all your other responsibilities) that it's hard to find time to practice for yourself, you may start to feel like a broken record at some point. You may be uninspired when planning your yoga classes and even when you’re teaching.
To counter that, start to focus (more) on your own yoga practice again. The self-practice will enable you to grow and develop as a person, which will certainly impact your teaching and serve as a tremendous source of inspiration.
Another key to keeping your fire for yoga burning is continuous education and training, as our interviewed teachers suggest. Take the time to attend at least one or two advanced trainings per year. This way, you’ll stay up to date and may discover new and exciting aspects of the yoga practice, which is beneficial for both you and your students.
8. Where Can I Get Inspiration For My Yoga Classes?
Get your inspiration from the things you get to listen to and see around you as you go about your daily routine. You can also pick up ideas from stories, pictures or videos on social media.
Attending other yoga teachers’ classes or workshops in a studio can also be a wonderful source of inspiration.
Another great way to get to practice with excellent teachers is to use online yoga platforms such as TINT. This is especially helpful if your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend regular classes at a fixed time. You can practice according to your own timing and from the comfort of your home or even when you’re on the go. This also enables you to get to know new teachers and different styles, such as Bowspring or Budokon.
Especially with TINT, you get to train with the world’s greatest yoga minds who have shaped the yoga world in recent years. Due to the incredible amount of content offered online, it’s hard to identify excellent yoga content amongst the masses. The problem is that some of the online yoga content available may even be dangerous.
This is why TINT aims at excellent yoga content directly from the source that is not only easy to access online but also prudent and safe in order to enable people around the world to learn yoga in a healthy and proper way.
There’s certainly no better way to increase your yoga knowledge and deepen your understanding of alignment and anatomy than learning directly from renowned yoga teachers with decades of experience who share with you what took them years to master. This is why TINT founder Young Ho Kim has a special message for you:
Your Top Tips to Earn Money as a Yoga Teacher
Don't get this wrong: Starting a career as a yoga teacher is not impossible and is definitely worth it if yoga is your passion. However, don't be blinded by the idea that if you make your passion your job, you won't ever have to work again.
Remember: Once your passion has become your job, it's your job – with all the responsibilities, hard work and challenges any other job has.
But with these tips from professional yoga teachers, your start will become easier:
- Start by subbing for other yoga teachers to gain a foothold in different fitness and yoga studios.
- Build a repertoire of yoga classes you're ready to teach.
- Maintain at least 10 minutes of self-practice per day to develop and grow.
- Attend other yoga teachers' classes or use online yoga platforms as inspiration.
- Use social media in a professional way and as a business tool.
- Be authentic and only teach what you feel comfortable with.
- Remind yourself that yoga is your passion and be grateful for it.