Making a living
Suggestions for increasing your income. By Ram Jain
Most of us enter the yoga profession because of our love of yoga and our passion to share it with others. But once we take up yoga teaching as a career, we still have to pay our bills and other necessities. Many of my students struggle to earn sufficient income from teaching yoga even when they are very dedicated and skilled teachers.
Most yoga teachers fall into one of these three categories:
1. The teachers who run their own yoga studios. Even when they are teaching 20 classes a week, they struggle to make a profit after paying all the costs of running the studio. In the end, this results in frustration and burn out.
2. Those who teach yoga at other studios as freelancers. If they are fortunate to have enough classes, they find themselves running from one studio to another and fit their life around it. But many teachers still struggle to make a decent living.
3. Yoga teachers who believe they cannot make a living just by teaching yoga full-time, so take up teaching as a part-time job. They do it for a couple of years but then many have to give it up due to the increasing demands of their main job or their family.
Now I have been successfully teaching yoga for 12 years and making more than a decent living.
In my coaching sessions I often see that yoga teachers fail to realise that teaching yoga professionally means taking up yoga as a ‘business’. So, it must be run like a business (with ethics). Even though the main focus is on helping others, you cannot neglect the financial aspects of it. You will have to pay your costs, taxes and so on, just the same as any other business.
So here are some suggestions for increasing your income from teaching yoga within a short period:
1. Do the math
Figure out how much money you need every month to live decently and reasonably. Then calculate how many students you need, or how many classes you need to teach to earn that money every month. It is vital you are aware of that figure because if you are not, you can’t build a sustainable teaching career.
2. Cut your costs
Remember a penny saved is a penny earned. Always try to save money and never spend on anything which you can manage without. This habit will take you a long way. Now I am not asking you to live on soup and bread. But I am suggesting a shift in paradigm. I see teachers spending money on fancy yoga mats and cushions, even when they are struggling to make ends meet. Remember: students come for your teachings, not the accessories and extras you offer.
3. Offer private classes
Look for opportunities to give private classes. Private classes pay very well and decrease the stress of ‘acquiring’ several students. Remember, with more students you also have to do more administration, marketing and more management. Private classes can be taught at the location of the student, so you can even save on the cost of renting the location.
4. Teach yoga to businesses
Another effective way is to find some businesses who want to provide yoga classes to their employees. There has been a great increase in companies offering yoga to their employees. Use all of your contacts who work in a medium to large company to find such opportunities.
5. Leverage marketing
Have a marketing budget even if it is a small one. Imagine a farmer who does not want to buy seeds but wants a large crop! Marketing is like planting seeds, which, if done properly, will bring you returns later on. I suggest spending 5-10% of your desired turnover on your marketing budget. You can easily waste your money on ineffective marketing, so learn the basics first. Start with finding out who is your target customer and figure out how to reach them in the best way. You can even do a quick four-hour course online for free.
Ram Jain is the founding director of the Arhanta Yoga Ashrams, in India and the Netherlands (arhantayoga.org)