How could it in any way be possible to make teaching yoga a sustainable career??

Today I am answering some questions from our community::

“I’ve been teaching for several years, and am just starting to be able to fully support myself teaching yoga, but I am worried. Can I really make this a full-time, sustainable, long-term career like I want it to be?”

“Sometimes the thought of running my own yoga business where my physical presence and my teaching is a limited commodity makes me feel doubtful about sustaining it as a long- term career , or feeling financially stable. I worry that in the long-term, it might not be as sustainable as a career that is transferable from place to place (if I moved, I’d have to start over building clients, etc). Any insights?!”

“Do I need a business plan to be a successful business owner?”

Here is the thing, y’all.

Yes, it is absolutely possible to create a life where teaching yoga is your full means of financial support.

You have to:

  • stay a dedicated student; remain steadfast to your own practice and self care
  • invest regularly in continuing education; work continuously to deepen the quality of your teaching
  • have a deep desire to serve and help others; if you are in it for some fast, easy money you are looking in the most wrong kind of place
  • think outside the box; know that teaching group classes at yoga studios is not the only way to offer {and be paid for} your teachings
  • be willing to work hard; the beginning of a yoga teaching career requires you to “take what you can get” which often means classes and clients at non-ideal times
  • reach out to fellow yoga teachers. Community, support, and like-minded friends are vital to surviving as a yoga teacher. If there is not a supportive community of yoga teachers in your area, get one going, or find one online
  • be consistent; having subs for classes at the last minute {unless it is a true, real emergency} is a big no-no in my book

If you invest in, and carry yourself as a professional, you will be able to offer teachings in a meaningful, career-building way.

But the above concerns are valid. This is a cyclical business, and there is nothing that can be completely counted on. You have to be comfortable with that, and until you have enough steady teaching to sustain you, it may be a good idea to have a foundation of financial support, maybe in another part time job.

And it is true. If you move to another city, you cannot pick up your classes and clients and take them with you. You have to start over completely. But starting over the second time is much easier than the first, trust me, I’m doing it right now! You bring with you years of experience as a teacher, friends and teaching relationships, and lessons learned from round one. It is not as clear as applying for and being hired for a new job, but so what? If you wanted a life that is straightforward and clear, you would have been an accountant and not a yoga teacher in the first place.

I’ll address the “must be physically present, my teaching is a limited commodity, how do I keep growing my business after my schedule is maxed out” issue here: It will take a while to be in a place in your teaching career where your schedule is at its max. When/if you do, and you have a waiting list for new clients, then you raise your prices. I wouldn’t worry too much about that next step right now. By the time you have been teaching long enough to have a thriving business, you’ll probably already know what you want to do next, and if you don’t, you can figure it out then. There is no way you could plan for that place in your career now.

And lastly I’ll address the business plan. Do you need one?

I don’t think so.

If you do all the things I mentioned above, and stay awake to your most pressing desires and interests, the path will unfold in front of you. If you tried to determine from the outset:

“I’ll have x number of classes and x number of clients and make x amount of money by x date…”

…things will invariably shift and change along the way. But if that kind of goal setting helps your brain stay organized and motivated, by all means, go for it! I have been in the game for long enough now, and have a pretty clear picture of where I am headed, that I do have goals, projects and plans taking me well into 2015. That is something new for me though, after almost 10 years of teaching yoga.

Are you sick of hearing me say this yet? Too bad, I’m going to keep saying it:

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You can’t plan your whole life from here. Just stay awake and keep moving. {Tweet me!}

What do you think guys? Does it feel possible, albeit a little risky/ exciting??

5 Responses to “How could it in any way be possible to make teaching yoga a sustainable career??”

  1. Gayle Jann

    I agree that continuing to be a student, continually learning, continually trying new things and listening to your students is key to growing your yoga business.
    It is not easy and there are more and more people becoming yoga teachers.

    It is important to appreciate your students and let them know that by thanking them for coming to class and taking time to talk to them and get to know them.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Yes Gayle! Thanks so much for adding that! Appreciation for our students is so important. 🙂

  2. Ashley

    Hey Francesca! Thanks for the reminder to keep going and to take care of ourselves no matter what. I remember when going through my Teacher Training program a few years back the instructor talked about performing a lot and I always found that strange. Obviously, I understand now. I’m curious how you feel about niching? You sound like a pretty go-with-the-flow type person – do you believe in starting out with a niche when you first start teaching privates?


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