Professional mentoring is on the rise, with over 71% of Fortune 500 companies boasting mentorship programs for their employees.
Yoga teachers are also increasingly interested in receiving mentoring; a survey conducted by Yoga Alliance Professionals found that 88% of teachers were keen to work with a mentor.
To get a better idea of how mentor schemes can benefit yoga teachers, we spoke to yogis about their experience of mentoring.
Jade Beckett, Pride Yoga - There are so many teachers out there who struggle with the basics of business. When something that is more tricky comes up, teachers struggle to make decisions and end up turning to Facebook groups, taking poor advice and not making the most out of their work or getting taken advantage of because they don’t realise there are affordable options for support out there.
A mentor spends dedicated time with a yoga teacher and works with them to help their business. It has a tangible difference on the bottom line and the financial viability of those teacher’s businesses - meaning all of a sudden, teaching as a career is viable, which uplifts our profession as a whole, rather than having to quit because they’ve not had support with their business.
Lucy Leslie, Crawley Yoga - "I’ve worked with a mentor since 2010. I wanted to open a studio back then when I had a one-year-old son; he strongly suggested I wait and he was right. Eventually, with his guidance, I opened a no-frills studio. I had a full house of students, all clients from the huge database I had built in preparation under his suggestion. Initially, I had wanted showers and a juice bar and a huge lease; he strongly suggested a low rent and to just teach, forget the showers, the break-out rooms – see what happens. I’m 10 years in, still no showers, no juice bar but I support my family through teaching yoga, very comfortably.
It helps that the mentors I have worked with have prosperous businesses & are successful entrepreneurs. I know yoga and I teach from the heart, but the elements of business - well that was hard to learn."
Susan Church, Yoga & Pilates in Malaga -" No amount of training can prepare you for real-world teaching. When I finished my first teacher training everyone was appointed a mentor. Back then we called it an apprenticeship. It was obligatory to assist an experienced teacher. Mine turned into someone I reached out to for guidance for many years.
She has a psychotherapy background, and I sought out her advice when there were issues that I felt I needed assistance with. Some of these issues were practical, such as record-keeping, or finding a good accountant. Other were yoga-related, (a good text on the sutras), and some were personal issues, like dealing with someone who irritates me."
Pip Taverner - "A key question I would ask myself when seeking support is whether the mentor is inspirational and aspirational. What has their journey been and have they walked the path I wish to walk, and do they show success in the areas of business that I wish to explore? By pursuing a living from teaching yoga, being self-sufficient and the freedom this offers, then teaching yoga is a business, with I believe, mentoring being a key component to its success."
Dawn Wright, Shining Lotus Yoga - "I have been a yoga teacher for over 20 years and have had several mentors over this time both from a teaching perspective and a business one. This has been invaluable to me on my path as a professional yoga teacher and business owner, and I don't think I would have done half the things I have if I had not had the support of a mentor.
Being a professional yoga teacher has so many opportunities and possibilities, but equally, there are many things to contend with like growing more teaching skills, how to run a business and areas such as ethics, standards and professionalism. This can be daunting for any yoga teacher. A mentor is a guide through the maze of these things where you get the benefit of their years of experience alongside their support to develop and grow both your learning and skills, as well as your confidence. It is a space to be able to discuss anything that comes up for you personally and professionally on your journey as a teacher in a supportive and non-judgemental environment. It is great to see that the value of mentoring is being more widely talked about and appreciated, and I hope more teachers chose to be supported in this way going forward"
Liz Truckle - “As someone who ‘thinks out loud”, I find it invaluable to speak with, and share thoughts and ideas, with a knowledgeable mentor. Someone who can elicit the hidden reasons for some of my own thoughts and actions – which can help or hinder my progress. Someone who can bring me into the present moment and encourage and allow me to take an honest look at myself. I’m generally not a planner and yet I know how useful this is to any business – so I am pleased to be able to work with a mentor like Dawn Wright to help me look at my current and future plans. You learn more about yourself and how to move past potential obstacles and barriers (some ‘actual’ and some imaginary). It’s a personalised approach, as one person’s success is not always the same as someone else … and it’s so important to find what works for you."