Teach Yoga And Earn A Living?
This is a question asked often by students who have decided that they want to lead a meaningful life while sharing one of the most precious gifts they feel they have received themselves.
Many years ago, in 1988, when I embarked on the spiritual journey of finding mySelf by following the path of yoga, I never thought yoga would become what it is today. Not just a path to Self-realization (in fact it’s considered most often to be just exercize), not just a practice that can help one realize one’s highest potential physically, mentally and spiritually, not just a way of life, but a lifestyle which can become one’s career.
So what we see today is a complete paradigm shift. When I started practicing yogic meditation and asanas, it was for me the onset of a spiritual journey, along with the sincere desire to share this precious gift with other seekers. I never regarded it as a career. For me it was a vocation, a deep inner calling to offer to as many people as I can, an extremely precious technology for Self-Realization.
For me this is still true, despite the fact that I nowadays prepare students to not just see it as their path to spiritual enlightenment and self-actualization, but also to actively participate in the huge yoga boom which we are witnessing today with classes being offered in every nook and corner and teachers getting certified to teach yoga as a career choice. I have learnt to reconcile the two apparently contradictory positions of offering a truly divine practice on one hand while also accepting remuneration for the same, on the other hand.
How did teachers in the past survive without charging for their teachings, you may ask? The answer is: there was a culture of great respect for teachers of yoga and as a result teachers used to receive a continuous flow of donations in both, cash and kind. The culture was entirely different compared to modern Western culture and there was simply no need to request payment for yoga teachings and classes. It was all done in a spirit of goodwill.
The social landscape has changed and today we have a different society which requires a different approach. In fact, those who wish to teach yoga full time, have no other recourse but to charge money for their classes and services.
And even though yoga teachers nowadays have to charge for their classes, I still advise them to offer at least one class per week free of charge, as an act of selfless service. Free meditation lessons may be offered to those who sincerely wish to follow yoga as a spiritual path and free yoga classes may be provided to those who do not have the means to pay for the classes, such as prison inmates, homeless people and others.
Offering at least some of the classes and services for free maintains the idea that yoga and meditation should be accessible to all – because it’s your birthright. At the same time teachers must balance that and find ways to sustain themselves.
Individualized Approach – Rajadhiraja Yoga
The students who have completed their teacher training with the Himalayan Yoga Institute are advised to maintain or find a job in the beginning – either full time or part time and gradually build up the number of classes they teach.
Many yoga teacher training courses will train you in how to teach classes – which is the main requirement for a successful teaching career – but they will teach you nothing on finding a teaching position, private lessons, or the many opportunities outside of the yoga studios.
At the Himalayan Yoga Institute, we also provide tips and information on how to build a yoga teaching career and earn a living. Being a freelance yoga teacher requires yoga instructors to be creative, bold and resourceful while building their yoga teaching career. And receiving insider-insight, “one who has been there, done that” – is equally important.
The first thing to be done, is to remove the dogma from your mind that taking payments for your services is somehow morally wrong. It’s not. Particularly in today’s world. Earlier I have explained why.
Some newly trained yoga teachers may have to supplement their income and remain working a full-time job, while teaching a few evening classes per week. Others will take a part time job and gradually build a successful teaching career. And keep in mind – as with any freelancing – it requires motivation and considerable work.
Usually yoga instructors live a simple, yet comfortable lifestyle that does not require the support of a high income. This certainly helps in quickly becoming self-reliant while teaching yoga.
We advise yoga teachers who wish to teach yoga full time, to teach private classes as well as corporate classes (classes offered in work places).
In fact private classes are a must if you are to become financially independent and would like to earn enough to sustain yourself and your family. This is one thing that isn’t often disclosed to fledgling yoga teachers.
The problem is that most yoga teacher training courses do not equip future teachers with the tools to create private classes, tailored towards the needs of each individual students. For example if you complete an Ashtanga Vinyasa certification course, you are only able to teach the exact same asana series you have learnt on the teacher training course. And this is the case with many other yoga styles.
In those cases there is neither instruction on how to sequence a class nor how to choose asanas for individual requirements of each student.
Sequencing And Personalized Yoga
Yet, this is one of the hallmarks of learning yoga at the Himalayan Yoga Institute. Our approach allows for intricate personalization of the practice, in the tradition of Rajadhiraja yoga. And this is how yoga was traditionally taught – each student used to receive a personlized routine tailored towards her or his specific needs. When we create a personalized routine or private practice, we take into consideration the age of the student, the physical abilities, the physical problems, chronic illnesses, emotional problems, one’s life path, as well as the condition of the endocrine glands (responsible for hormone secretion) and chakras.
The benefits and contraindications of each asana are taught on our yoga teacher training course, and also which glands and chakras they stimulate as well as which conditions or illnesses they can alleviate. This allows our future yoga teacher to select asanas and other yogic practices with accuracy, specifically tailored for their individual students in order to conduct finely tuned private classes.
Providing private classes is a great way for yoga teachers to teach less demanding classes, even though they require more patience to teach than a group class. They also allow the teacher to focus on one student, without having to divide her attention among several students. Considering the precise sequencing and attention given to the student by the teacher, they are also best for the student so s/he can progress quickly. Furthermore, they are an important source of income for yoga teachers.
Click here to read more about our approach to yoga/styles.
Another variant of private classes are in-home lessons. They can be individual or group classes. Students enjoy having classes in the comfort of their home and it is found that in-home lessons result in the most profound relaxation and exponentially magnify the health benefits of yoga.
How To Complement Yoga
Working part time, while building a yoga teaching career may at first glance, not seem to be the best option, but then there are quite a few job opportunities that may complement the yogic lifestyle. For example, working in health food stores or a meditation tea shop, at a crafts store, art gallery or bakery, may all be compatible job opportunities, while providing a steady flow of income. These places also provide a pleasant work environment.
Yogis and yoginiis who have fully embraced the yogic lifestyle, may also lead simpler and healthier lives, while practicing contentment which allows them to be happy even in a cheaper and simpler environment. Leading a simple life helps us avoid financial strain and the related difficulties, that are resulting from always wanting and needing more on top of what we already possess.
Teaching yoga and spreading the message of physical , mental, emotional and spiritual well-being is the most rewarding job one could ever have. Many of our students have built beautiful careers which allow them to lead meaningful lives and to share with the world their passion and love for yoga.
Himalayan Yoga Institute
Check out our upcoming yoga teacher training courses:
1) 200h YTT, Isle of Losinj, Croatia
2) 200h YTT, South India
3) 300h Advanced YTT, South India