Navigating the world of “business” as a yoga teacher isn’t always easy. Building a rewarding and successful career in yoga takes a lot of hard work and perseverance.
We spoke to 3 highly accomplished Senior Yoga Teachers about what it takes to create a successful career in yoga teaching. Here’s what they had to say...
Specialising in a specific field allows you to develop a particular set of skills and expertise that fosters loyal customers and a strong sense of purpose.
Grace Tempany, the director of DubYin Yoga and a registered Trainer PRO with Yoga Alliance Professionals encourages new teachers to identify what they are most passionate about in order to establish a niche. “The biggest mistake people make is training in everything - in chair yoga, in Nidra, in Hatha, in hot yoga and Iyengar - so that they can tick every box, have 10 classes a week and serve everybody in the community. You’re only going to waste your money and never make any of that money back - because it’s all surface and no depth. It’s pure tokenism. You’re not learning enough in any of those disciplines to truly add value to your students' experience. I believe there is a huge portion of yoga teachers who stay at that level and therefore their income does as well!”
Instead, find an area of yoga that is most aligned with your values and dedicate yourself to becoming an expert in this field. This is what will attract new students your way.
Play the Long Game
A yoga teacher training course is just the start of your teaching journey. Investing in further training and building your teaching experience is crucial to progress through the Career Path.
Senior Yoga Teacher Susan Church, the director of the yoga teacher training school Yoga & Pilates in Malaga, stresses the importance of a Three-Year Plan for new yoga teachers. “Make sure there is something that can sustain you for the first three years. Hone your craft, develop your skills, and give yourself a year to simply teach as many people as possible. Teach a wide variety of different people, as this is how you progress. Teaching 55 Vinyasa classes a week will not get you to the point of being more senior, more experienced, more specialist. Teaching a variety of different people will.”
Advancing your teaching skills and investing in further training will ultimately increase your earning potential. Grace Tempany believes that your prices should reflect the investment you have made to your profession, training and education. “When you come to a yin class with me, you’re paying for the hundreds of hours of training I have done, you’re paying for my university education and my expertise as an educator, you’re paying for that.”
One of the worst things you can do is significantly reduce your prices in order to attract more students. Susan Church deems this to be a key issue with the yoga industry, reducing the earning potential of all yoga teachers. “When a new yoga teacher comes in, they look at everyone else and think I need to charge less because that is what is going to get me, customers...Don’t pay less and undercut, because someone else will just pay less than you”
Pip Taverner agrees, adding that charging minimally for your classes only makes it more difficult to start upping your prices as you start to gain more experience and confidence in the classroom.
A Senior Yoga Teacher and Yoga Mentor, Pip advises her mentees to assess their overheads and how much they want to earn and work backwards from there. “Sit down and do a business plan. Work out how much income you need a month to pay your rent, for food, bills, living expenses, petrol etc. Get really clear with the financials so that you can recognise how much you will need to bring in, and how are you going to do this.”
Instead of reducing your prices, add value to your classes. For Pip Taverner, yoga teachers should focus on the customer experience, and how do you look after and support your students. Doing everything you can to ensure your students have the best experience is vital to creating a loyal client base.
And Susan Church believes this goes beyond simply sharing the practice: “We need to have insight, we need to have research, we need to have a hand-out or a film..we need to add value and that means more work for us. But that is the way of the world, and that has always been the way of progressing in any kind of career path.”