March 14, 2012

So, You Want to Be a Yoga Teacher. ~ Lisa Wells

It looks like a pretty good gig, teaching yoga: you get to wear comfortable clothes, have a flexible schedule, get paid for your practice, and you’ll be skinny, rich and popular-or maybe not.

I love teaching yoga and I’ll soon be leading my own yoga teacher-training program (Yoga Alliance Qualified and all). I frequently get asked for advice about becoming a yoga teacher. So, here, on the threshold of offering a teacher training program, are answers to questions recently posed to me:

1. Can yoga instructors make a living from this career, or is it a part-time job?

A few instructors support themselves teaching yoga, most don’t. It is easier to get enough work to support yourself in a large urban area than it is in a small town. You’ll earn between $15 and $100/class depending on the town and how popular your teaching is. You are most likely to be hired as an independent contractor and unlikely to have benefits as part of your employment. ‘Making a living’ teaching yoga can mean teaching to the level of exhaustion, especially if you teach all over town.

Teach yoga for love. Don’t quit your day job.

2. What is the average salary?

I don’t know a single yoga teacher with a salary. You’ll be paid by the head, or a percentage of the class or by workshop income. You’ll need to creatively mix teaching in different venues and locations to stich a living together. Think of supplementing your yoga teacher training with personal training, Zumba, Nia or Pilates training to earn enough to support you.

3. Is the job market highly competitive?

Yes, the job market is highly competitive. If clients don’t like your classes they won’t come back. You rarely get a second chance to prove yourself to a student. In the beginning you might teach at health clubs, corporations, churches, or to any group that will have you. Most of those venues will pay you by the hour and you’ll have a captive audience to hone your teaching skills.

4. How much training is required before you can begin teaching?

Check out the Yoga Alliance Webpage for industry standards here. Most yoga studios require a 200-hour Yoga Alliance Registered Certification. You can get jobs at health clubs with a weekend certification. Employers may require certification but there are no government standards or requirements at this time.

5. How do I choose a teacher training?

Ask the teachers whom you resonate with where they were trained. Ask a lot of questions about the programs you might join. Find a school that teaches the style of yoga you practice. Ask graduates of the program what they thought. You can get certified on a long vacation in India, Mexico or Bali, or you can spread it out over a year, or more, of weekends in any major city. Look for a training that resonates with your personal practice that is grounded in firm traditions, and works for you budget and time.

6. How much does yoga teacher training cost?

As little as $1,500 or as much at $20,000. Do your homework before signing up.

6. Is it worth it?

I love teaching yoga. My personal yoga practice includes my teaching. I am honored to offer what I love back to the world.  The journey called me and I answered. Your yoga teacher training’ll deepen you, even if you never teach. So choose a training that offers to enrich your practice as one of its goals.

Read more from Lisa:

Mudita: The Counterpose to Jealousy & Ego.

Can Yoga Wreck Your Life?

Lisa Wells, PhD, ERYT500, loves yoga, dance, wilderness, teenagers, a good soy latte, tantric meditation, crows, humans, bodies, old growth forests, and life.  She has been practicing yoga for over 20 years and teaching for 12 years.  She co-owns Live Well Studio in Corvallis, Oregon.  Her yoga style is poetic, somatic, grounded in Western anatomy and enriched by Ayurveda and Tantric subtle anatomy.  She has a PhD in Geology from Stanford University, studied for two years in the Masters in Divinity Program through Meadville Lombard Theological School.  In her free time she enjoys dancing in the forest and taking very long walks.




Editor: Tanya L. Markul

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