Is teaching yoga a legitimate career path?
By Adam Carney, Certified Yoga Instructor
When I was 22, I left my career and traveled to India to do my yoga teacher training. I was incredibly stressed with my work, and I felt that if I continued any longer it would be at the expense of my sanity.
For about the first 2 years, I figured it was impossible to make any money as a yoga teacher. Teaching yoga professionally is no joke. It wasn’t until I really began to focus on doing the right things that it became possible for me. In this article I’m going to share with you the 4 things I did that really made it all possible for me.
I see a lot of people leave their careers in high-stress jobs and get into teaching yoga because they don’t want to work hard. The tricky thing is, in order to make a full-time career as a yoga teacher you’ve got to work just as hard, if not harder, than you did at your desk job. While this might not sound appealing, it definitely can be. The freedom alone to dictate your own future and earnings, to me, made it worth it instantly.
How much should I expect to make?
According to Glass Door, the average yoga teacher in Chicago makes $46,000 a year. I would imagine this is full-time teachers, and I know from working in the industry that most teachers don’t teach full time. I would expect to make no more than $20,000 your first year, $35,000 your second year, and $45,000 your third year. Usually after this when you start doing retreats and trainings, you can make more than that. The best yoga teachers I know make $100,000+, but my estimate is this is only the top 1% of teachers.
Things to focus on to make yoga a legitimate career:
- Don’t just do your teacher training anywhere. Pick a really inspiring school.
You can now get a yoga certification online or in India for less than $1,000. I think this is a huge mistake. Your teacher training is what’s going to keep you inspired for the rest of your life, you’ve got to develop a huge passion for it. You’ll do this by getting around great teachers, and amazing community in an inspiring location. I recommend using the site Find Yoga Trainings site to find your teacher training.
- In your first year, don’t be picky. Just teach.
Resolve to teach 500 classes your first year, no matter where they come from. Pick up substitute classes from other teachers. Teach at gyms. Teach in community centers. Year one is not about making money, it’s about getting confident and honed as a teacher.
2. Focus on relationship building.
The second largest yoga studio chain in the world YogaWorks based in LA and San Francisco got so large because from the beginning, they focused on training their teachers to create deep relationships with their students. When you go to a YogaWorks class, you know the teachers are going to remember your name, they are going to give you adjustments and compliments, and they are going to speak to you after class. These are all the little habits it takes to become a great yoga teacher. This took me a while to learn, but the micro-habits make all the difference.
3. Develop side-jobs
Teach privates, do nutrition counseling, lead and organize events for your followers. Teaching studio classes alone isn’t going to make you a full-time salary. I started to look at my studio classes as my marketing opportunities for my retreats, trainings, and weekend events. You’ve got to constantly be hustling and coming up with new, valuable things to offer your students. My most successful have been private classes, and retreats, though I would not recommend running retreats your first year.
4. Socialize in the yoga-teacher circles
One thing I did really well when I started was shift my social circles over to seasoned teachers. This helped me a bunch for a number of reasons. First, they were able to guide me and give me useful advice in the beginning. Second, once I earned their trust they invited me often to sub their classes. Third, teachers soon started inviting me to help out with their retreats, which transitioned in me running my own.
If you are looking for a great example of a teacher to model your career after, Kia Miller is a fantastic example.
Sure, yoga knowledge is important. But career skills are just as important. But I’m confident that if you focus on these things as a yoga teacher, you’ll see that it is a legitimate career path and you can make money doing it.
If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge about building a yoga career, I highly recommend Paul Teodo’s course on building a thriving yoga career. Paul was the #1 rated teacher in LA by TheCultureTrip and is one of the highest earning teachers I know. He breaks down his entire system in detail, and guarantees you a full-time career if you follow the system.