5 Things No One Tells You About Being A New Yoga Teacher
Do you want to be a successful yoga teacher? Do you want to set your own hours, teach to full classes, have devoted private clients, lead workshops, lead retreats, and present at events? Do you want to make a living doing what you love? Well, here are 5 things you need to know.
Don’t try to be a good yoga teacher at first.
Nowhere in the yoga teaching tradition does anyone say, “And now, with no experience, you are ready to be a sought-after guru.” You won’t be very good when you first start. That’s okay. When I first started teaching, I didn’t have a lot to offer. But, every single year, I grow and get better at what I do. That growth is far more important than where I started out.
Focus on the small things you need to do now to generate big results later.
Instead of trying to teach the world’s greatest yoga class, build your professional reputation. Say “yes” to every opportunity to sub for another teacher. Show up early, work hard, and dedicate yourself to learning. Assign yourself 5 sick days and 5 vacation days a year. My friends and family don’t always understand when I turn down vacations, dinners, or events because I have to teach; they think of my job as highly flexible. But, letting my students and employers know I’m a dedicated teacher pays dividends in the opportunities and connections I receive.
Say “yes” to teaching in gyms and community centers.
Two years into my teaching career, I was renting out a community dance studio to host donation-based classes every Saturday. I would show up an hour early to clean the filthy floors, draw the curtains, and try to set some type of yoga mood. My only paid teaching job was at a body-building gym. Developing my teaching style in the absence of the serene studio environment – with plenty of distractions – made me an adaptable, quick-thinking teacher.
Don’t try to teach in an established studio.
One of the best decisions I made for my career was moving away from my yoga home. Had I stayed in one place, everyone would have known that the more senior teachers in the area had actually trained me. Instead, I was able to stand on my own feet. I got lucky when I was hired to teach at a young studio. New studios or new gyms start everyone on level ground, and students aren’t yet loyal to those teachers who have been their guides for years.
Hustle. Grind. Pay your dues. Or redefine your expectations.
Many brand new teachers tell me they would like to teach a few private classes a week. We all would like that! This type of flexible, high-paying work only comes after you’ve done the inflexible, low-paying work. In most cases, not only do you not have the network to generate private students, you also lack the skills to truly serve a private practice student. Yoga is not a grind. A yoga teaching career is, at least at first. If you don’t want to jump into the grind, you can still teach yoga, but you may never have that coveted class time at your favorite studio. Set your expectations to match the work you are willing to put forth.
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