In Part 1 of this thread, I provided an overview of the various ways in which yoga teachers typically make money. I ended with some cautionary words about how difficult it is to actually make a living as a yoga teacher. I don’t mea...
In Part 1 of this thread, I provided an overview of the various ways in which yoga teachers typically make money. I ended with some cautionary words about how difficult it is to actually make a living as a yoga teacher. I don’t mean to discourage anyone who has his or her heart set on becoming a yoga teacher. But there’s a lot of misleading information out there, and this series of posts is my attempt to share what I’ve learned about the sobering realities of being a yoga instructor.
This time around, I’ll be discussing some of the hurdles and obstacles that you can expect to face if you decide to become a yoga teacher. Of course, most of what I say here is the result of personal experience, and not everyone will encounter the same difficulties that I have. I should note, however, that I’ve taught yoga in both large cities (Los Angeles, CA) and small (Bloomington, IN), so I have a pretty good sense of the range of issues that arise in the course of trying to make it as a yoga teacher.
In no particular order, here are some of the challenges to making it as a yoga teacher:
Teaching Yoga is Time Consuming and Exhausting
In order to make even a modest living as a yoga instructor, you’ll likely need to spend a lot of time teaching classes and giving private lessons. This will typically involve a lot of driving around, sitting in traffic, and juggling missed and cancelled appointments. Moreover, teaching this much is really exhausting. I’ve never personally been a full-time yoga instructor, but I have had a part-time schedule teaching as many as ten classes a week, and this practically wiped me out. Teaching yoga is, in many ways, a lot more demanding than taking a class. When you teach, you inevitably give a lot of yourself, and there’s also an expectation that you’ll always be upbeat, happy, and energetic. This is draining. Most human beings cannot be “on” like this for hours and hours a day.
Yoga Teachers Do Not Get Paid Well
Teaching yoga might sound like a lot of fun, and it certainly can be very rewarding to share the joy and miracle of yoga with other people. But the unfortunate reality is that most yoga teachers don’t get paid well. There are certainly exceptions, but the vast majority of teachers I’ve known in my life were not able to support themselves (and certainly not a family) on a patchwork of teaching gigs. Even my teachers in L.A. with celebrity clients could not, at the end of the day, afford anything like a middle-class lifestyle. It’s one thing to be in your twenties without health insurance, living in a small studio apartment, and still driving around the old car your parents gave you in college. But for most people, “slumming it” in this way is not going to be so fun when they’re in their thirties and beyond.
Although I never pursued yoga as a full-time gig, teaching yoga was definitely a serious part-time job for me, demandin upwards of thirty hours a week sometimes. Yet I never managed to make more than $10,000 a year doing this. That’s not an amount to sneeze at, of course, but it’s also officially poverty-level income.
If I had to put some numbers out there, I’d guess that the average yoga teacher — i.e. someone who doesn’t own a studio, and makes all of his or her money from group classes and private lessons — can make about $20,000 to $30,000 a year, working a 40-50 hour work week, six days a week. If you live in a big city, maybe this number inches up a bit. If you live in a smaller city or the ‘burbs, this number might be quite a bit less.
Yoga Teachers Get No Benefits
Even if you can earn $50,000 a year teaching yoga — and that’s a big “if” — you’ll probably be working without any benefits, which means you’ll have to pay for your own health insurance out of pocket. Retirement savings? 401(k)? Vacation days? Sick days? M