As I've come to realise how much effort I've put into building my yoga business at a sacrifice to other positive and good things in my life, I wanted to share a few words of wisdom to new teachers. Warning - this is brutally honest and may shatter your illusions that becoming a full time yoga teacher can happen overnight.
Tip one - It's OK to say 'no'
When you start teaching, you want to build your experience and get used to teaching classes of various sizes. I urge you to not take on more than you can chew. You can quite easily end up overworked without the money to prove it was worth it. Try not to say 'yes' to everything - it won't necessarily make your dream happen any faster and will ultimately exhaust you, leaving you with little energy to enjoy the other good things in life. It's tough out there. Be selective.
Tip two - Don't believe everything you see on social media
It's OK to be working another job on the side, which may remain your main income for years, while teaching here and there.
I read a book a couple of years ago, Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith, which said that in order for us to move forward in life we must first have safety and survival. A regular income is your survival blanket. You need it in order to make sure you aren't overly stressed about your wage so you can deliver great yoga classes. There is no shame in having to work numerous jobs to make your dreams come true.
The information you are fed by successful yoga teachers on social media are only the end of the story. No-one really talks about how hard it is to start with...
Tip three - Don't let yourself be taken advantage of...
...By yoga studios and gyms. The pay may seem good (£20-£35 per hour) but remember, if you get 10 people in your independent class, you can earn £80 before your rent costs are deducted. That's a much bigger profit! I always think it's better to focus on building your independent classes, and gaining the loyalty of your students, than it is to rely solely on yoga studios and gyms to fund your dream.
From my experience, teaching at gyms can feel very restrictive and a massive money making exercise for the company. It never felt truly authentic to me so I eventually quit. I now don't teach in any gyms and I feel happier. I may not be full time yet but I feel like I have my integrity back. I can teach how I want without anyone trying to shape my classes into something they just aren't.
If you're really considering only teaching yoga with no other income, you will need a few gym or yoga studio classes to make sure you always have some regular income but choose wisely. I recently saw an advert on a social media site enticing new yoga teachers with a promising wage per class and great opportunities. Call me a cynic but I bet the opportunities aren't that great or even in existence...Be wise. £20-£35 per hour sounds good but once you've travelled there and taught, it really isn't that much for your expertise and creativity (especially when the gym or studio is potentially making 3x that in profit for your one class!)
Tip four - Know your worth
A local yoga teacher to me recently told me to value what I do and she is right - you most likely have spent thousands of pounds training. You are entitled to believe in yourself and charge a good amount for your time and knowledge. Don't be shy. Set the precedent early and everything else will follow. The going rate for most yoga classes is £10-£13 for an hour and a half class (at least in my local area) so even if you're new, charge what other teachers are charging. It's OK!
If you want to teach yoga just because you like to, then the above won't bother you as your aim will never be to make a profit. But if you would like this to be your job, teaching yoga is sadly a business so we have to think business like. I ALWAYS feel terrible when I have to put the costs of my classes up or advertise something I'm doing. The truth is though - my students don't mind and they want to hear what else they can come to.
Trying to make your business work doesn't make you less of a yogi. All of the above are something I wish other teachers had shared with me when I started out. I spent a lot of time in my first two years trying to be nice and offering my time for free or to not make much profit which effectively held me back from actually living my dream sooner.
You can still be a yogi with good morals and principles while also ensuring you can function in this material world and make an income. Find your balance.