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The Ultimate Guide to a Career as a Certified Yoga Instructor

Do you want to teach yoga? Build up a great yoga business? Here's a simple guide on what you need to do, know and how to go about it.

A woman practicing yoga

Teaching yoga or better yet, owning a studio, is a dream for many folks.

The road can be long and bumpy but if you make it, and many do, it’s a fulfilling business and vocation.

The starting point is getting certified.  There are many local and global teacher training programs.  Just be sure they are Yoga Alliance credentialed.  It would be a shame to go through a rigorous program only to end up without  the necessary recognized credentials to teach.

With yoga teacher certificate in hand, it’s time to build your yoga business.

Skills

The skills you’ll need to acquire for a career as a successful yoga instructor don’t have a ceiling. You can learn a lot of skills pertaining to a certain type of yoga and not scratch the surface of other techniques. However, there are some techniques and skills that you’ll need to have if you can make it as a yoga teacher no matter which path you take. You’ll need these most of all:

  • Be a people person; in order to become a great teacher for anything, you’ll need to interact with people that are all of different temperaments and backgrounds. If you manage to deal with them in the best manner possible each time, you’ll develop better relationships and be able to get through to them in a better way. This way you’ll get them to try out your routines more openly and to come to you when they’re confused about something.
  • Develop the ability to motivate and inspire; in order to make sure that people follow difficult routines and try exercises that are difficult; you need to be able to inspire and motivate your students. A little motivation can go a long way to getting someone to go the extra mile, especially when attempting something difficult.
  • Be a good listener; the worst thing that a teacher can be is cold and calculating towards students. If a teacher is unable to pinpoint what the problem with a student is, then they will not learn any better. Hence, it’s very important for you to listen to the main problems that your students have in order to advance them.
  • Business skills; after all the cake and watermelon, this is a business after all. In order to make a profit and to make sure that your skills are being fully monetized, you’ll need to develop a sense of how things work in your business. You’ll need to assess how valuable your skills are and how well you’re getting paid for what you do. If you don’t, then you’ll risk getting left behind and being undervalued.

Practice RegularlyLearning in Yoga Class

In order for you to become good at something, and especially to teach it, you need to be dedicated and practice regularly.

You have to love yoga to teach yoga.

A big mistake many people make is choosing a career or business because of collateral benefits such as being your own boss, money, it’s easy, etc.

At the heart of being a yoga teacher, you need to live and breathe it. If you go through the motions, you won’t succeed.

This means having your own practice.  It also means continual professional development attending workshops, talking to other teachers, honing your skills, etc.

Carve out a NicheTeaching Yoga

One approach to building up a teaching business is becoming known for a specific style or a specific way of teaching. You don’t have to look high and low for an especially obscure yoga technique so that you can raise your rates and appeal to the elite crowd. You can become known for your teaching techniques and the results that you provide to your students.

You can integrate dance or music into your routine, and you can favor one technique over the other. This will work for some people and put some other people off, but it’ll carve out a niche for you that people will come to know you for. This can be developed during your own practices and teachings of yoga. If you do put in the work, you’ll find that you prefer one technique over another or prefer to do one step over the other rather naturally. This is because everybody is different and prefers to stretch or work out differently.

Other than that, you can incorporate things that you’ve learned during your study to your routine to make it more your own. If you do that, you’ll attract certain people that enjoy eccentricities and enjoy the pleasure of working out at your yoga center or your business rather than someone else’s. If your ambiance and your methods attract enough people, you’ll be able to carve out a niche that’s representative of your style and your passion.

Offer Private Classes Instructor for Yoga

There is a common question among people regarding how much a yoga teacher can make. Since most studios pay out a $40 to $75 fee per class, if you teach around 2 or 3 classes a day, you can make about $2750 a month. However, if that seems like chump change right now, you can relax. The better you get and more popular you become, the more people will be willing to pay for your services.

However, you’ll need to show how good you are if you want to make more. And there are many additional streams of income that you can go for such as giving private classes to make extra money. However, you should be careful not to overwork yourself so that you can stay fresh and don’t snap at your students when you’re giving them instructions.

Private classes can get you a significant bonus since they can include about 20 to 30 people and can be as pricey as about $100 to $150 an hour. However, this will be a more taxing job than working at a studio. This is because you’ll have to give individual attention to students and help them out with their difficulties.

However, if you put in the work, you can be sure that the returns will increase,

Planning Yoga Classes and Learning Advanced Techniques Becoming Better at Yoga

A big part of being a successful yoga teacher is choreographing your own yoga flows for your classes.

You will be asked to instruct popular yoga types if you are hired by someone else, however, if you have your own business or tutor private students, you should be able to offer something more niche. Whatever you choose, you need to plan it out. Since keeping track of multiple students and businesses is hard, you’d need to keep a record and plan everything out by breaking it down into steps.

If you’re focusing on breathing with a particular student, you need to coach them on Pranayama; the breathing exercises central to Yoga. If you’re coaching someone on holding poses and perfecting posture, you’ll need to focus on Asanas. And if you’re focusing on core strength, you’ll need to ask them to focus on their muscle building and overall strength.

Developing a Client BasePrivate Yoga Classes

This is an extremely important point to keep in mind, and the direct follow up to developing a niche and thriving yoga business. Most people, when they find a tailor or a gym instructor or a massage therapist, they tend to stick to them. The establishment doesn’t really excite them as much as the prospect of the individual with the skills.  That’s what you need to develop. This way, no matter where you seek employment, or where you shift, people will come to you in droves to take advantage of your talents.

Organize RetreatsYoga Class Plan

Another way to build up your community and earn decent revenue is to organize yoga retreats.  You rent the facility, plan out the logistics such as accommodations and food and then sell packages to your students.

You may not sell a lot of packages the first year but if you run it multiple times per year or annually, word will spread if it’s good.  Before you know it, you’ll have a waiting list.

Offer teacher training

If you become very proficient at yoga and have your full teaching certifications, you can seek out getting credentialed as a teacher trainer.  You definitely want the credentials where your students become certified per Yoga Alliance.

There’s a reason that there are many yoga teacher training programs and that’s because you can charge quite a bit for it.  If you have a large yoga clientele, chances are some over time will want to pursue teacher training.

Additional Tips

Live frugally

It’s not likely you’ll become fabulously wealthy teaching yoga.  Most people who teach yoga don’t do it for wealth. They merely wish to earn a living.

That’s not to say you can’t earn a good living.  Many studios thrive and do well.

However, it takes time to make good money so in the meantime, embrace frugality.  Starting a business not only takes all of your effort but it chugs through money as well.  Every nickel you have will need to be invested.  In the beginning you won’t have much left for you.  Therefore, be prepared to live like a college student.

Focus on the revenue

When starting out, your studio and all the branding/marketing behind it won’t be like the 10 year old studio on the other side of town.  They have the advantage of being established and have had time to invest in a “slick” operation.

As a startup,  you need to focus on doing tasks that drive revenue.  That means teaching as many students as you can while keeping expenses as low as possible.

Don’t fall for expensive marketing contracts and frivolous business expenses that don’t pay off for years.  Focus on getting students in the door.

Be nice

I’ve attended so many yoga classes where the teacher seemed to not care at all.  I guess they were tired of the business but don’t know what else to do.  If this is you, choose another business.

Nice, caring, engaging and passionate teachers are the ones that thrive.  Students sense it.  That’s what makes a class enjoyable.  It really is.  Take the time after class to answer questions.  There’s always that one student with a million questions.  Embrace patience and answer their questions. Don’t hurry out.  People notice helpful, caring teachers.  That’s what they want.

The hipster attitude is not cool.  I loathe studios that reek of attitude. I won’t go to them again.

Becoming a yoga teacher and then building a thriving yoga studio business isn’t easy, but if you make it, you’ll never work another day in your life.

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