Setting out to become a full time, self employed successful yoga teacher has been one BIG learning curve. I have made many, many mistakes along the way and I am hoping that by sharing these with you in this post, you will avoid treading the same treacherous path in the world of teaching yoga!
1. Start Small
When I qualified as a yoga teacher I knew I wanted to be self employed and teach yoga ALL THE TIME. I hated my office job and saw it as a way out. I already worked a 40 hour week and tried to squeeze four evening classes on top of that. FYI, it’s really hard to fill ONE CLASS EVER, never mind about four classes when nobody has any idea you even exist. Nearly four years in and I am yet to have an oversubscribed class. If you want to teach independently (not for a gym or studio), start one class. Pour your heart into marketing this one class and all your energy into teaching it, then once this one is ticking over nicely, consider adding a second.
2. Cover Work
Something I really wish I had done when I started was getting experience as a cover teacher. Get yourself some business cards printed (VistaPrint do great yoga ones if you can’t afford to shell out for a graphic designer) and in person, visit all your local gyms and studios that offer classes. When I lost my job I spent an afternoon travelling all over the city to chat to Group Ex managers to get cover work and from that I managed to pick up a regular class. Cover work is great for expanding your client base, I always offer my business cards if its a gym or studio I don’t normally teach at as often the members want to know where you do teach (because they will love you obviously. This is also a great opportunity to get your name out there! As before, it is really hard to fill a class without any experience, this way you can get the hang of teaching a wide range of people, plus gyms pay anywhere from £17-£25 per class (in the Lincoln area at least, I imagine it varies by county) so you won’t have to worry about filling a class to make money.
3. Be prepared for gym classes.
Following on from that, I started off teaching independent classes and by asking potential clients to contact me to book a place I had time to discuss their requirements, any injuries and their background before they even walked through the door. Gyms are not like that. The gym will have the members health information stored but you won’t have access to it (especially if you have only been contacted 2 hours before the class started out of urgency!). The members who attend gym classes are very varied and you will need to think on your feet fast so that nobody feels excluded from the class. You may experience teaching a heavily pregnant woman, someone with hearing impairment, someone with a physical disability or someone who has recently had a heart attack. Trust your training and make sure you prep for ANY eventuality.
4. All good things must come to an end.
It’s really quite sad when a class ends. Whether it’s out of your control (schedule changes, budgeting, etc) or it’s a choice you make, it’s bittersweet. As yoga practitioners, we know that the universe always has a bigger plan for us, but it’s ok to feel disappointed and disheartened when this happens. Try not to take it as a personal attack. I spent a long time questioning why people stopped coming to class, why they had started someone else’s class, was it something I said? Take a deep breath, let it go and move on.
5. Last but not least… Take no shit.
OK, you’re new, you aren’t an idiot. Do not let people take advantage of you! The world is full of jesters and charlatans and unfortunately, an interest in yoga doesn’t automatically stop someone being an arsehole.
Don’t take exposure for payment (unless you want to, of course), don’t work for free, do not let people waste your time and don’t let people treat you like crap. Making money and being successful (however you wish to measure that) as a yoga teacher is hard and some people will live to make it harder.
Know your worth.