You can only be successful as a Yoga teacher if you choose your ideal channel for sharing your knowledge
The past few weeks have been quite exciting for me as a Yoga teacher. I taught a retreat in India with my partner Sandra, I taught my regular classes including my Mysore program and led classes, and right now I am traveling and am teaching weekend workshops in different cities. And in between I am writing those lines to share my experience with you on my blog.
Those are just different “channels” for sharing my experience of Yoga and (hopefully) providing some kind of value for your practice and your teaching experience.
Many young Yoga teachers start off teaching Yoga classes on the side. When they consider teaching full time, they assume they will just have to teach more of those classes – which might or might not be sounding like something you would enjoy.
The truth is, just by teaching more classes, you won’t necessarily make enough money to pay your bills, and chances are you won’t feel happy and fulfilled with your chosen path as a Yoga teacher either.
The thing is, whether it’s teaching classes, workshops or retreats, you need varying skills, need to connect and take care of your students in a different way, and you have to present your knowledge in a way that works for that channel.
For yourself to feel “within your element” while teaching, and for your students to value their time and attention by giving them the best of what you have to offer.
Not every Yoga teacher is meant to teach to a room full of 100 students, but for some it’s the most amazing feeling to teach big events.
Some love guiding a small group of students on a daily basis, connecting very personally and providing advice over years of practice.
Some teachers might even hate the idea of speaking in front of an audience at all, but they are great in connecting through writing articles and books.
Some find the whole idea of them as teachers troublesome, yet want to be involved in the Yoga world and rather focus on supporting roles such as Yoga studio management and organization.
And it’s not only how you as a Yoga teacher want to share your knowledge, using your unique voice, but which way of teaching fits your desired lifestyle. Do you have family that you want to be with, or do you prefer travelling all year long? Do you like firm relationships with your students guiding them over years and years, or do you connect easily to new people and can give them something after 2 hours of meeting and teaching them in a weekend workshop?
I have listed the most common ways to teach and share Yoga with your students that can support you in making a living as a Yoga teacher. Obviously, many full-time Yoga teachers use multiple ways to earn a living.
But you as a Yoga teacher should find ways of sharing Yoga that suit you and your style of teaching and fit into your lifestyle.
And just to be clear: this list should not be read as ways how to make money as a Yoga teacher. Rather I want to list ways of sharing your Yoga experience and providing value to Yoga practitioners using different channels. As long as you authentically connect with people with the intention of enhancing their Yoga experience and showing them a good time, you will be compensated for that. How much you make, depends not so much on the channel you choose, but on how much you want to charge, how much value you provide and many other aspects. There are Yoga teachers that earn a lot with group classes or book writing as there are people earning little with the same means.
So here is my list of 10 ways of making a living as a Yoga teacher:
1. Regular Group Classes:
You teach groups of students at the same place and time (e.g. each week or daily). These might be led classes or self practice classes as in typical Ashtanga Mysore classes.
As there is regularity, you can build a community and establish relationships with your students. Those classes can be taught in fitness studios, different Yoga studios or in your own place or a rented room.
2. Corporate Yoga Classes:
You teach your class at a firm to their employees. Usually companies pay better than regular group classes, but participants are generally less committed and interested in the deeper aspects of Yoga. This channel works even better if you can somehow relate to the employees and what they are doing, for example teaching engineers if you are an engineer yourself.
3. Private Classes:
You teach only one student at a time. You can really focus on the individual student’s needs and build long-lasting relationships. You get paid more per person, yet maybe less per class, depending how full your group classes are.
Workshops are group classes that focus on a special theme and last from 3 hours to a couple of days. You can really explore a certain aspect of the practices, give some theory around the practice (such as anatomy), enable students to dive deeper in their practice and show your own expertise in a certain field. It’s also great to get to know your students better (and help them to get to know you better) and get them interested and inspired for longer and usually pricier events like retreats and teacher trainings. Some workshops that last longer are often called intensives or immersions.
4.1. Teaching Workshops in your regular teaching location:
You can promote these events in your regular classes and build on the knowledge you share in your regular classes and tailor the content to the people that attend as you usually already know them.
4.2. Teaching workshops traveling around (your country and the world):
Visiting different Yoga communities you have to be able to connect to different people very quickly and provide your insights in a way that people instantly want to learn from you. As I know from my workshops, it’s great to meet people in different places, feel the different vibe of different Yoga communities and feel the openness towards the visiting teacher. Yet, in the long run it can also be upsetting to have only a short impact and leave just when you have connected to the people after 2 or 3 days.
5. Teacher trainings:
From month long teacher trainings to the ones that last 4 years, teacher trainings cover various aspects of Yoga practice and focus not only on practicing but also on teaching skills. As a long-time Yoga practitioner and teacher, teaching at a teacher training or developing your own teacher training can be great way to share your knowledge and inspire others to pass on their own experience of Yoga. You build up a very close relationship to your teacher trainees and dive much deeper than in a normal teaching environment.
Unfortunately nowadays a teacher training is often started by teachers primarily to survive as a Yoga teacher as profits are considerably higher than in regular group classes. Many discussions have been led about this. I encourage Yoga teachers who think about starting a teacher training to question their motives behind it. If the primary motive is money, the result will be flawed.
You teach in beautiful places to a group of people that want to focus on Yoga for a week or longer. Some teachers teach are all year long in a retreat place in exotic places like India, Thailand or Bali. It’s great as students often are very open-minded while they are away from home and transformation can happen easily. But just as a traveling workshop teacher, always connecting to new people and seeing them leave shortly after might not be for everyone as you miss out seeing the transformation over a longer period. The positive side to that is that you meet many more people than you do teaching a regular group of people, which can be rewarding.
7. Writing books:
Sharing your knowledge by writing can be great. Whether you like the solitude that it takes to write longer content, want to share your knowledge and experience with a bigger audience, or just prefer a written conversation over speaking in front of students, books are a way to go.
But… books are dead media… see number 8.
8. Making Videos and Online Courses:
YouTube, Online Yoga Communities, DVDs, Social Media … there are unlimited ways to share yourself via video.
Even though Video and books are „dead“ media (as is this blog), meaning that direct interaction and feedback are not possible, it can be a way of providing extra value to your students and also earn some extra income. And even though I definitely prefer a in-person workshop as a student as well as in my teaching role, I do see the value in video, as you can still reach some people and provide value to them that you wouldn’t have reached otherwise.
Some people want to study a book or video first before they come to your classes or workshops, and not offering those channels might exclude them from the benefits. And for existing students it can be a way to “stay in touch“ if they cannot attend your classes regularly.
So if you feel drawn to express yourself through books or videos, go for it, even if it’s not the traditional way of teaching Yoga.
9. Selling Yoga accessories like mats, belts, clothes:
If you have a website or your own studio, selling Yoga accessories can be a good idea. The importance here, as in every other way of earning money, is that you think of serving your students first and never sell anything you haven’t used and fallen in love with yourself.
Your student should have an advantage of buying the article with you. For example, if they practice Yoga with you and eventually decide to own their own Yoga mat, getting your recommendation for the best Yoga mat is great. They feel good as they trust you and you get compensated for giving them advice and saving them the trouble from searching for a the mat someplace else.
But if you sell them a lousy Yoga mat, they will not only hate the mat but probably stop listen to your advice as a Yoga teacher, too.
Don’t sell to make money but to serve the other person – and people will be happy to give you their money!
10. Getting sponsored:
You share your message of Yoga with others through social media? If you have enough people following you, companies that sell Yoga accessories might be interested in getting in front of your audience. If you feel like sharing your pictures and articles using products like Yoga mats and clothes and recommending them to your audience, that might be a way for additional income for you.
Obviously, the same applies here as in every other way of earning: Provide value first and never advertise something you haven’t used and found of great use for yourself. If anyone follows your recommendation and gets disappointed, they will loose trust in you!
If you passionate about sharing Yoga, find a way and channel that suits your skills, talents and natural character to connect with your students.
Know what lifestyle you want to live that makes you feel alive and allows you to be authentic.
Always be grateful to anybody that takes time to give you their attention and wants to learn from you and give them your best. Share fully from your heart and don’t hold back and success will come your way, in terms of satisfaction, fulfillment, and financial means.
Take some time today to think which channel would be fitting your character and way of living and write down why these channels are suiting you.