How to thrive as a yoga teacher
Why do some yoga teachers succeed in building a thriving career in yoga while others fail? Top tips to help you thrive and survive after graduation. By Allie Hill
Yoga has grown into a highly successful, competitive, commercial industry. Because of this, teaching yoga is on the rise. Yoga teachers come and go, burn out, and get pushed out of the industry. Only some stay for the long haul.
The same scenario plays out time and time again. After graduating from your first teacher training, you’re full of enthusiasm and happy to take on over 16 classes a week. You quit your day job to build a career in yoga.
You race all over town saying “yes!” to as many classes as possible – teaching here, there, and everywhere. You’ve got bills to pay! You’re desperately trying to be seen and create a name for yourself in this competitive yoga industry. Inevitably, around 18 months or so later, the cracks start to show (as do the bags under your eyes). You burn out.
A more sustainable approach during the fledgling years is to teach yoga alongside another part-time job and slowly build your classes and following. Find an experienced teacher that you connect with and ask them if they’d be willing to mentor you.
Gradually gather some corporate and one-on-one clients as these are often much more lucrative than studio classes. Eventually, you’ll be able to leave your part-time job and make a career in yoga work financially – teaching less, earning more, and enjoying what you do for a long time.
Aside from the burn out of teachers doing too much physically, there’s also a disconnection between yoga teachers and their practice. They lose their inspiration and connection as to why they chose to become a yoga teacher in the first place.
If you find yourself a bit stagnant, reflect on why you first started practicing yoga, what it meant to you at that time, and how it had a positive impact on your life. Go back to the beginning, back to your roots, and allow that passion to reignite your career in yoga.
In order to keep the fire burning, you should also be continuously open to learning. Whatever path you take as a yoga teacher, no matter what style you teach, all the best teachers continue to study themselves. Yoga is a vast subject and, at different times in your teaching journey, you’ll delve into different parts of it, becoming inspired by new learnings and discoveries that help you to evolve.
5 tips to create a thriving career in yoga
Use these five tips to help support you as a new teacher so you can maintain that all-important connection to your practice, yourself, and your commitment to growth throughout your career in yoga.
- Stay grounded and open to serve We all know there’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose, and nothing worse than a show off yoga teacher. While standing on your hands in a deep backbend, with your feet pointing down toward your head is certainly impressive – and for those who watch on, perhaps inspirational – it doesn’t mean that you have what it takes to deliver an incredible yoga class. The best yoga teachers are those who come to class willing to serve their students, hold space, and be present. Not those who use it as an opportunity to show off what they are able to do. Compassion toward our students, our attitude toward the practice of yoga, and our ability to care and connect with our students goes far. Stay grounded. It’s only yoga – not brain surgery. Leave your ego at the door.
- Find your authentic voice
Avoid the 'yoga voice’…it’s fake and it shows. Finding your own voice, your own language, and simply being yourself makes for a better experience.
Allow your personality to shine through. Perhaps share some personal, spiritual stories or relevant thought-provoking quotes. Trust yourself, have faith in the yoga teacher you’ve become, and be at ease. It’s also important to note that this is a skill that comes over time with continual practice.
- Forge connections
Our connection to our yoga students – before and after class – means a great deal. Learn names and chat with students to forge deeper connections.
Notice when a student is having an 'off day’ and take the time to check in with them. If someone is struggling, encourage them and they’ll be back for sure.
- Plan, plan, plan and then adapt
Memorise your yoga sequence. But, also, be ready to adapt it if you have beginners rock up to your strong Vinyasa class. Adapting a yoga sequence on the spot is a skill and it comes with practice.
Offer modifications to the newbies and advanced variations to the more experienced crew to keep everyone stimulated.
5. Be present
Once you’ve been teaching for a while, take time out for yourself – especially if you teach yoga full-time. Do something other than yoga, otherwise your love and passion may dissipate and you will not be present for your students.
Taking time out enables us to be more fully present in the moment when we need to be engaged as teachers. Faking it will only get you so far and it’s not recommended.
Create your successful career in yoga
Within the past two decades, we’ve seen yoga blossom into the mainstream. We’ve had the privilege to witness first-hand how yoga serves the individual in such a powerful way. Yoga works its remarkable magic to allow students to notice incredible transformations.
At the heart of this metamorphosis quietly sits the yoga teacher – who can easily enable or equally disable the journey. The world certainly needs more passionate people doing what they truly love. If, for you, that’s teaching yoga then the work should always begin with yourself. The world certainly needs more passionate people doing what they truly love.
The more we can work on being the best version of ourselves in a real genuine, compassionate way, the more that will shine through in our classes. It is this that makes for an excellent yoga teacher who will last the distance and go on to create a thriving career in yoga.
So, take on board all the tips, do the best you can, be committed and open to continuously learning, and – above all else – take good care of yourself.
Allie Hill is the founder of yogahaven and has been delivering training for 15 years. Follow her @yogahaven and @yogahaven_teach for her top tips on teaching yoga Email firstname.lastname@example.org using code "Let's Get it OM" for a £200 discount on a YH training in 2022
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.