If you’re a yogi student or teacher, chances are, you follow many yogis on Instagram. If you do, the chances are higher that you sometimes catch yourself asking these questions inside your head:
How many hours do yoga instructors work?
Do they even work? They look like they’re always on vacation!
How much do they earn?
How can they afford that pair of Lululemon yoga pants?
Teaching yoga is an industry that is rapidly growing. There are 250,000 to 650,000 yoga teachers registered with Yoga Alliance (YA) in the United States alone. These numbers don’t yet include yoga teachers who didn’t register with Yoga Alliance.
It’s not surprising, though, because more people are now interested in yoga. There are 36 million yogis in the US, and 34% plan to sign up for a yoga class this year. With all this demand, we still find ourselves asking if yoga teachers are working. The truth is, they are.
How Many Hours Do Yoga Instructors Work?
According to Kate Saal, most yoga instructors work part-time. For every 10 yoga teachers, 6.7 of them work less than 10 hours a week, while three work less than five hours a week. Most of them work as independent contractors or freelancers, while a few are employees.
Most yoga instructors don’t work long hours, which brings us to the question:
How Much Do Yoga Instructors Earn?
The pay for yoga instructors depends on the hours and location they are teaching. According to Glassdoor, the average yearly base pay in the United States for yoga teachers is $50,738 or $29.80 per hour. Yoga instructors who teach in big cities earn more than those in small cities and towns.
According to the stats on Indeed, yoga instructors in San Francisco, California, get paid the highest rate per hour. Below are the top eight highest-paying cities for yoga instructors in the US.
San Francisco, California: $51.21 per hour
Orlando, Florida: $48.99 per hour
New York, New York: $41.05 per hour
Boston, Massachusetts: $40.61 per hour
Los Angeles, California: $38.75 per hour
Chicago, Illinois: $36.99 per hour
Baltimore, Maryland: $36.25 per hour
San Antonio, Texas: $32.24 per hour
If you want to earn more as a yoga teacher, it’s easy to say, teach in these cities. Or, avoid teaching in Kansas or Alabama as they pay yoga teachers 25-33% less than the national average. But the competition in these cities for a yoga teaching position is tight.
In San Francisco, California, there are 1,721 yoga instructors registered with Yoga Alliance alone, while there are only 471 in Orlando, Florida. These numbers affect the take-home money of yoga teachers since many of them receive a flat fee per class, plus commission per student.
It is also worth mentioning that experience doesn’t affect the salary of yoga teachers. According to data found on Indeed, yoga instructors with zero to four years experience get the highest pay at $61,600 annually. Those with four to eight years of experience earn $52,900, which is significantly lower.
But it increases to $56,600 once experience reaches eight to twelve years and to $60,200 as you reach your 12th to 16th year of teaching. While there is no explanation as to why the salary doesn’t increase as you become a more seasoned yoga teacher, I can only assume it’s because they don’t lead classes as much as they used to.
Now, the average pay of yoga teachers doesn’t sound like it will afford them a life of “always being on vacation,” just like what we see from yogis on Instagram. Only 45% of yoga teachers feel their income is enough to cover their living costs. Most yoga teachers also don’t get benefits, such as health care, unless a company or a studio hires them as regular employees.
The difference between an employee in a studio versus a contractor or freelancer is pretty significant. When you are an employee, as mentioned, you will receive health insurance and other benefits. You may also receive a higher salary, especially if they require you to work only for them.
If you work as a freelancer or a contractor, you can choose how you will get paid. Yoga studios pay instructors in three ways: flat-rate wage per class, salary per number of students attending the yoga class, and flat-rate compensation with commission depending on the number of students attending the class.
Whether you are an employee or a contractor, use your negotiation skills to receive a higher salary.
The good news about being a yoga instructor, though, is that you have time in your hands. Offering 20 classes a week is considered full-time work for yoga teachers, which means 20 hours to 26 hours a week. Another good news is that there are many ways yoga teachers can earn money aside from teaching yoga at a studio.
How to Earn More as a Yoga Teacher
Many yoga instructors become one because they love sharing their knowledge about yoga with other people. We talk about Seva or selfless service all the time. But there are bills to pay, and Yoga Teacher Training certificates are not for free.
To help more people while continuing to be the best yoga instructor you can be, you have to make sure that you take care of yourself and your bills. Here are some ways you can earn more money as a yoga instructor:
Teach Private Lessons
Most yoga instructors teach at yoga studios or gyms. But some people want to try yoga but are intimidated to go to these places. Many yoga teachers give lessons in clients’ homes.
You will be able to set your hourly rate or rate for a set of private lessons booked. You can also offer private lessons to groups of friends who want to hang out and chill through practicing yoga together. Or, offer it as a bridal shower activity.
Many companies now realize the importance of workplace wellness. Companies such as Facebook and Google offer free gym memberships, massages, and other wellness perks, including yoga classes. Reach out to people you know who work in the corporate world and offer your services.
There are many ways they can incorporate yoga in the corporate world, such as during company team building activities or even as something to do during lunchtime.
Teach at a Hotel or Resort
The yoga travel industry is gaining momentum these days. Many hotels and resorts now want to attract traveling yogis. Reach out to them and see if you can offer your classes there. It may be temporary at first, but you might spark the interest of locals who want to do yoga as well.
Start an Online Yoga Studio
Now more than ever is a great time to start an online yoga studio. It’s cheaper than opening your physical studio, and you can reach more people. With an online studio, you can earn money in many ways.
You can have people pay to subscribe to your pre-recorded or live-streaming yoga class. You can offer online workshops. You can also accept sponsorships from brands. Another way is to affiliate with companies and brands you like.
Offer Pop-up Yoga
If you like teaching yoga to students offline, another way you can earn extra money is to offer pop-up yoga classes. You can teach yoga at the park, by the beach or the lake. Make sure you have the necessary permits from the local authorities that allow the use of public properties.
I also know a yoga teacher who offers pop-up classes at shopping centers and restaurants early in the morning, when there is no crowd yet, just gathering people together to practice yoga.
Create Yoga Retreats
Ever wonder how the yogis on social media look like they are always on vacation? Many of them are traveling to places and bringing along with them a group of people for yoga retreats. To do this, you need to find a resort or wellness center that can host your yoga retreat.
It can be around the US or overseas, like in Bali, Costa Rica, or India. If you don’t want to create your own retreat, you can also find a position for yoga teachers at wellness and retreat centers. Reach out to them and ask if they are hiring.
You may also find yoga centers hiring instructors at YogaTrade.
Write about Yoga
If you have a knack for writing, doing it for yoga is another way to earn more money as a yoga teacher. Most yoga magazines and websites don’t pay high, but it’s a great way to network and earn extra money. It’s a great way to market yourself as a yoga teacher, which may help get you more students.
Become a Studio Manager
You already go to a yoga studio to teach. You’re most likely there longer than you should be, ensuring that everything is ready before starting your class. Why not become the manager?
If you like working with people and organizing, try applying as a manager for your favorite yoga studio. Doing this is a great way to earn a more steady income and learn how to run a studio. That experience will come in handy when you decide to open your own yoga studio in the future.
Lead a Yoga Teacher Training Program
Do you have 1,000 hours of yoga teaching experience under your belt? How about two years of teaching experience since finishing your 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training? If yes, consider leading a yoga teacher training program.
It’s a lucrative business as more and more people want to become yoga teachers. If you have your style of yoga, it’s even better. You can charge more for it.
Become a Brand Ambassador
Brand ambassadors—we see them all the time on Instagram and Facebook. They wear expensive yoga clothes and go to exotic places. The yoga clothing market is going to be worth $47.8 billion by 2025.
As more clothing companies ride the bandwagon, there will be more opportunities to become sponsored as their brand ambassador. Influencers who are brand ambassadors can earn up to $15,000 per social media post. The fee depends on how many followers you have on social media.
But even if you don’t have thousands or millions of followers, you can still become a yoga clothing model.
Write a Book
As yoga becomes more popular in the west, books about it are also becoming more in demand. Another excellent way to earn money as a yoga teacher is to write a book. Self-publishing is also more accessible now. So, you need not worry if a publisher doesn’t pick up your book.
Being a yoga instructor teaching in yoga studios may not provide you enough for your living expenses. But as a yoga teacher, you have the time and freedom that opens up more opportunities to earn more bread and butter.