Yoga teachers adopt many roles to maintain a full teaching schedule.
They are responsible for planning the class sequence, creating a theme and musical playlist, providing a holistic and safe environment for the community, and negotiating space with studio owners.
In addition to the components of the physical practice, yoga teachers will learn the routines of a small business owner. Promoting classes, organizing events, adjusting schedules and teaching rates, designing a website and marketing materials, filing taxes as a sole proprietor, and continuing education to uphold teaching credentials and certifications are just a few of the tasks associated with running a yoga business.
It can feel overwhelming, especially if you have little knowledge or experience working with others. One of the most significant leaps for the Practice with Clara team in the early stages of building the company was establishing a process around communication since Clara was used to working on her own as a yoga teacher.
Listen to our podcast episode with Mindful Business Strategist Andrea Freeman or keep reading to discover the five business building blocks Clara used in teaching yoga and running a business.
Teaching Yoga Versus Running a Business
As a former yoga teacher, I spent two years teaching as many classes as possible. I subbed whenever the opportunity arose and cancelled plans last minute if it meant I got to sub for a coveted class.
Teaching yoga to beginners provided an excellent means for me to learn how to cue students in the postures. This method assisted me in building confidence and developing my voice. Teaching varied class lengths helped me refine the pace and flow of my classes, and subbing at different studios allowed me to build relationships and establish boundaries.
Eventually, I was teaching as many public yoga classes as I could physically manage.
The next step to advance as a yoga teacher is to include privates, workshops, retreats, and training.
As soon as you start driving your own event calendar, your focus will shift from simply teaching yoga to including all the elements of running a small business.
Hosting workshops and training is a wonderful way to build community and delve deeper into the aspects of yoga that light you up.
A benefit of teaching yoga in studios is that the marketing and management are handled by studio staff. Once you take ownership of your workshop/training schedule, you assume responsibility for the administrative duties. The added tasks can be time-consuming, and if you’re new to the processes, you’ll likely make mistakes and have to learn how to organize and outline procedures.
Another vital aspect to consider is how much money you earn, as it will affect how you file taxes depending on where you live.
I had taught a few workshops and was discussing a retreat with a fellow yoga teacher when I realized I did not want to be accountable for the managerial tasks. The business side of yoga (planning and marketing events, booking studio space and providing a deposit, emailing students about registration) was not where I wanted to hold my focus.
If the administrative duties are not where you want to spend your time and energy, one option is to hire someone to assist you.
Questions to Ask Before You Hire:
What are my blind spots—what am I not good at?
Who do I know that has the skills I lack?
What is my budget for each person I bring on?
Where do I see myself in two, five, or ten years?
How can I source the people I need to assist me?
Where do I want to save time/resources/energy?
What is my timeline—is this a contract or long-term hire?
To lessen your financial constraints, exchange services with someone who can assist you. You may learn that someone who attends classes regularly has skills in administration, marketing, design, and business development.
You could offer workshops, retreats, or teacher training in exchange for assistance on the tasks you hope to offload.
5 Tips for Teaching Yoga and Running a Business
Here are Clara’s five core recommendations for yoga teachers who want to take the next step in building a yoga business.
Provide feedback regularly.
Clear and constructive feedback goes a long way in any relationship. It helps you refine processes that demand a lot of energy and time. It will also help you communicate and clarify how you work with others as you hire people. Teaching yoga requires you to provide feedback on how they move and navigate the postures. Running a yoga business will ask you to provide constructive criticism to improve your energy.
A significant portion of the 300-Hour Program with Clara provides the opportunity to practice giving and receiving feedback. The general rule with delivering feedback is to be very specific, give examples of what you are referring to, and remove all personal opinions.
Be realistic about making mistakes.
Not all systems will work for everyone. Like teaching yoga, you will learn the processes and practices that work best for you when establishing your yoga business. Stay curious and open-minded as you fumble and make mistakes. Every new yoga teacher cues the wrong leg at some point- as do seasoned yoga teachers! Give yourself time to try different approaches and flail as you navigate new terrain. Do use your discretion and accept the setbacks as they come. Be realistic in your goals and continually check in to see how things are going.
Hire people who are confident in what they offer.
Hire someone confident in what they do and who compliments your skill set. You want to select the people who can respond to demands and bring their voices forward in sharing their opinions. This process is two-fold: the person will need to be self-assured, and you will need to create an environment where they feel safe expressing themselves. When you consider who and what you will hire for, think about the areas where you lack and seek someone who can fill in the gaps! This will allow you to focus more on teaching yoga and less on tasks you do not enjoy or know how to do. You will never be the best at all aspects of running your business, so hiring someone will help you refine your practices and maintain a work/life balance.
Go with the flow- don’t force the outcome.
A rough outline of what you hope to achieve is essential, though it is just as important not to get hung up on the final goal. You never know what may appear as you progress in your teaching career, and sometimes, when we have a specific plan in mind, we miss the opportunities that arise along the way! Going with the flow is a blend of setting standards and planning while adapting to what occurs and responding to events. Things are always shifting; life is constantly changing. The world is in flux, so keep your heart open so you might respond to the options that come your way as you continue teaching yoga.
Ask questions and adapt.
The best way to learn is to keep seeking! Look to those who’ve walked a similar path to the one you are on. Ask them questions. Research what you do not know and use the plethora of free information on the internet to develop your understanding and awareness of the elements that contribute to running a yoga business. The more you learn, the better you will become at asking the right questions. You do not need to be the master of all crafts, though knowing what questions to ask will guide you closer to the people and spaces to support your journey.
One way to advance your learning is to enter a mentorship with someone with similar goals and intentions as yourself. After my 200-hour YTT with Clara, I spent a year mentoring with her before signing up for the 300-hour YTT.
Why You May Want to Enter A Yoga Teaching Mentorship
Mentorship with an individual who is skilled and knows the industry is a super accessible way to get insider information and intel. Many yoga teachers offer mentorship. Some yoga training offers peer-to-peer mentorship programs that allow you to connect with others who may be going through similar experiences.
I’d been teaching for about a year when I reached out to Clara as a mentor. I had a lot of questions and wanted guidance as I navigated teaching yoga and the industry. All mentorship programs are unique, though here are some tips and tools I gathered during my mentorship with Clara.
What I Learned Through A Teaching Yoga Mentorship:
Feedback on class sequencing for 60-minute and 75-minute classes.
Industry standards regarding pay scales and the appropriate amount to charge for classes, events, workshops, and private sessions with students.
Questions around injury and prenatal yoga – Clara was available whenever I had concerns about a particular student who was pregnant or struggling with sensitivities.
Word of mouth goes a long way! Clara referred me to many studio owners and students, which helped me get more subbing contacts and networking opportunities.
If a mentorship program is what you seek, look to the instructor’s website or email them. Many yoga teachers provide mentorship programs to teachers and students who want to further their learning.
Another option is to join an online community or teacher’s circle to connect with like-minded students and teachers. The Practice with Clara Community Facebook Group provides a space where individuals are encouraged to ask questions regarding the yoga practice. All students who take a yoga teacher training with the Lila School of Vinyasa Yoga are added to a private Facebook Community Group for peer-to-peer mentorship and continued learning.
10 Key Takeaways on Teaching Yoga and Running a Business
Do what you love and create a process that works for YOU.
Focus on what you are good at and hire the people to do the things you do not understand or lack awareness of.
Exchange services; tell your students what you need to keep teaching yoga and grow your business.
Provide constructive feedback to yourself and others.
Embrace mistakes and adjust your goals accordingly.
Hire confident people in what they do and how they can support you.
Create an environment where all feel safe in expressing their opinions.
Ask a ton of questions.
Seek out a mentor who can guide you through the process of teaching yoga and running a business.
Check in and refine your strategy as you go to conserve time, effort, and money.
At Practice with Clara, we believe in the power of education and creating aspirational content that allows students and teachers to advance their understanding of the yoga practice and what it takes to maintain a yoga lifestyle.
Check out the five #PracticewithClara Podcast episodes to learn more about how to teach yoga and run a yoga business.
Get the FREE Lila Flow eBook to see how to:
Develop and advance your home practice.
Create dynamic, fun, and thematically cohesive classes for students.
Learn sequencing to create holistic and safe environments for all involved.
Build sequences that balance the muscles strained.
Understand the six families of yoga poses and how they interact.
Experience five classes to explore unique sequencing, themes, and class lengths.
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Yoga Drop Backs for Beginners – read the full blog post.