In tips for teachers

It’s hard to make a living as a yoga teacher.

We run across town from class to class, trying to cobble together enough money to make a living wage. New yoga teachers often teach for free to gain experience, and a decent starting wage is usually around $30/ class. Even veteran yoga teachers rarely make more than $80, unless they’re profit sharing with the studio.

If you’re not happy with your earnings, perhaps its time to do a re-think.

Untangle Old Beliefs

One of the reasons that yoga teachers frequently struggle is that we suffer from a misguided belief: “I can’t get paid to do what I love.”

Many of us took a yoga teacher training because we wanted to deepen our practice – not because we wanted to teach professionally. As a result, our motivation to teach comes from a desire to share our passion rather than make a buck. Because we love what we do, we may feel that we don’t deserve to get paid.

“There is nothing wrong with getting paid well for work that you love!” says Christine Young, a life coach based in New York City. “Clients will value the work they do with you even more if you respect your own time and worth. Charge accordingly to the results you provide – they’re worth it.”

Think about it: if you love what you do, then you will invest time, money and resources to be even better at it. You show up with enthusiasm and go the extra mile for your students.

Suggestions:

  1. When you’re setting your rates, do a pre-think about the experience and value that you will be providing to your clients.
  2. Consider the financial and emotional commitment that you have made in becoming a teacher: your investment in your 200 hour, your life experience, your continuing education. By acknowledging the investment that you have made, you may feel more confident in the worth of your offerings.
  3. Consider your own expenses. As a yoga teacher, you are responsible for several expenses, including professional dues, continuing education, taxes, music, travel, and insurance (to name a few!). Remembering your financial output will help you feel more firmly grounded in what you need for input.

Rethink “Spirituality”

“Yoga is a spiritual practice, so don’t be so materialistic.”

While yoga may be a spiritual practice, we live in a world where we need to pay the bills. Even gurus would take gifts from students in order to support their need, to…oh, eat. An honest exchange of goods and services is part of living in our society.

Setting reasonable prices is part of participating in this flow of energy.

“Think of money from a spiritual context. What you put out there you receive. If you are putting out a great service, the universe wants to return the favour financially.” – Christine Young

How to set your rates

To determine your fair market wage, start with objective research. Find out how much yoga teachers are generally paid in your local area by canvassing teachers and studios. It’s also a good idea to find out the criteria by which wages are set. Some studios will pay everyone a flat rate, while others will scale wages based on criteria such as:

  • experience
  • number of students who come to class
  • seniority
  • perceived commitment to the community

Once you’ve completed an objective analysis, it’s time to do an internal check with your gut.

When you’re setting your rates, do you feel that the exchange is equitable? Setting your rate too low can result in you feeling smaller, powerless, or diminished. Setting prices too high may feel like grasping, desperation, or self-importance. Check out how different prices feel to you in your body; often you can get a good sense of what feels appropriate by trying a few different numbers on for size.

Fiscal Realities

Bottom line? Most yoga studios aren’t very profitable. The hard reality is that yoga studios don’t have a lot of leeway to offer their teachers a great income; revenue from public classes alone usually won’t pay the bills. Unless a yoga company has been able to leverage a popular teacher training (Bikram, CorePower, Yoga Works) or successfully implement a certification track (Anusara), it will not reach the profit margins enjoyed by similar businesses in other sectors.

If you wish to improve your personal income but don’t want to teach more than twenty classes a week, then consider creating other revenue streams. These streams could be yoga related:

  • yoga project management (ie: running a yoga program for a corporation, club or school)
  • corporates
  • privates
  • retreats
  • workshops
  • teacher trainings
  • online courses
  • online classes
  • specialty yoga (acro, partner, kids, prenatal, yoga therapy)
  • coordinating and working with other organizations (a holistic health centre)
  • owning or managing a studio (however, see “bottom line,” above)

Or they may not be.

If you love teaching yoga, but enjoy the financial stability from your day job, then why not do both? Yoga teaching is a forgiving and flexible side career, since most people love attending classes after working hours. Teaching part-time will also help you avoid the most dreaded yoga injury: teacher burnout.

Love to hear from you.

How do you manage balancing yoga teaching with creating financial stability?

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