When I first decided to complete yoga teacher training, I didn’t necessarily think that I was going to teach yoga afterwards. I know that I wanted to dive deeper into my own practice and to learn more. I didn’t expect to fall in love with teaching.
But there’s one thing that they don’t necessarily talk a lot about during teacher training – how to get started as a yoga teacher once you graduate. Yes, there’s a unit on the business of yoga but it’s something like 2 hours out of a 200-hour training program.
I admit that it’s sometimes hard to explain to non-yoga friends why I’m not teaching a regular class (or several) following graduation. Part of it is intentional on my part since I’m not solely pursuing a yoga teaching career. Part of it has to do with the market that I’m in – New York City where yoga teachers are a dime a dozen. Not to mention that I live in Brooklyn where it seems like every other person is a yoga teacher.
Here’s what the situation generally looks like for a new yoga teacher in New York City.
- Graduate from your teacher training program – Hooray!
- You audition at studios…for the sub list.
- You make it onto the sub list.
- Hopefully start subbing classes and get good feedback.
- Then maybe after you’ve subbed for a while, you’ll be offered your own class.
Obviously, this will look different for your specific town and city depending on the yoga scene and the market for yoga teachers. There’s also a lot of variability in how the above steps play out and how much time each step will take.
While I’m still early in my yoga teaching journey, I’ve gathered a few tips and lessons on how to get started as a yoga teacher.
1. Start at home.
Look at the studio where you are completing your training or the teachers with whom you are training with. What are the opportunities available at the studio where you are doing your training? Are there internships or mentorships? Can you assist in classes? Can you teach their community class? It’s often easiest to start close to home and build out from there.
2. Develop relationships at other studios.
Yoga studios are very much communities within and unto themselves. Practice at the studio(s) so that you can get to know the teachers and owner/managers there and they can get to know you and your practice. Get to know the style of the studio and teachers, how teachers conduct class, etc. Do they chant? Do they have a dharma talk at the beginning? At the end? Are they focused on anatomy?
The truth is – relationships matter. If they know you, they are more likely to give you a shot at an audition. I would recommend starting this as early on in your process as possible because it’s something that takes time.
3. Show up.
I’ve mentioned before how important it is to show up. When people see your face and they see your commitment, it makes a difference. Say yes to sub a class. Show that you are dependable and reliable and that they can count of you. If you are dependable and reliable and a good teacher? You’ll likely get more sub gigs and more teaching opportunities. Also, it’s always best to ask about auditions and teaching opportunities in person instead of over email.
4. But set boundaries.
When you first get started teaching yoga, it’s easy to say yes to everything and get yourself in a situation where you get burnt out. Make sure that you take time for yourself to recharge and to get on your mat and practice.
This holds true no matter what your career path or passion is – make time to take care of yourself and stay inspired. That’s why we got into this in the first place, right?
Make sure that you follow-up with people. Not in an annoying and stalker-like way but in a professional way. I have found this to be so important both in the yoga world and with freelance writing. People will get busy and they will lose your email or voicemail. It’s important to persevere and remind people that you are interested.
6. Stay inspired.
On the very first day of our teacher training, several of the senior teachers gathered together with us. They were asked to share one piece of advice with us. All five of them said that the most important thing is to stay inspired. We teach the same yoga postures over and over again but how can you, as a teacher, bring something new to that experience.
Go to class. Practice a different lineage of yoga. Take other group fitness classes. Read. Study. Do whatever it is that you need to do to stay inspired. You don’t want to be that teacher who is leaning against the wall and phoning it in.
Even though many of us pursue teaching yoga or [insert-your-own-passion-here] because we love it, in the end, it’s still a business and you need to treat it like that.
And it’s something that takes time. While some lucky few may luck out, be in the right place at the right time and launch their new yoga teaching career without any apparent effort, most of us will have to work at it.
This is a great article on 7 truths about being a yoga teacher that no one will ever tell you which addresses more of the realities of teaching yoga that is spot on.
What’s the most important tip you have for starting out in a new career?
More Ways to Follow Love, Life, Surf