Teaching Yoga Full Time
I get a lot of questions on teaching yoga full time, and I think a lot of that drive to do it full time comes from the dream of turning one’s passion into a career (and maybe frustration with an existing job). As much as teaching yoga can be really rewarding, there will always be difficult moments in every job.
My transition was from a steady corporate job to freelancing at different yoga studios so I’ll lay out some considerations that are specific to that situation. Most of these are things that I’ve considered and planned out before making this transition, while others were things that I’ve picked up (or got hit upon) along the way.
Managing Finances and Losing Corporate Benefits
Depending on what your current commitment and pay is, it’s really important to work out the minimum amount that you’ll need to make in order to pay off your monthly expenses. This is where I’d really suggest teaching part time for a period of time because it does take time to build up the number of classes that you’ll need in a week. Also, earnings usually fluctuate - classes get cancelled during festive seasons when people are busy celebrating / traveling.
If you have an existing corporate job, there are also a lot of perks that you'll be losing. Most companies provide annual + medical leave, bonus, medical claims, and also other allowances. These can amount to a significant amount. Every day off is equivalent to a pay cut if you’re freelancing.
Taking a week off? That’s RM0 for a week (i.e. 25% pay cut).
Going on a trip during that week off? That’s RM0 for a week, minus the expenses that will be incurred.
Sick for 2 days? No pay for 2 days, minus medical expenses. It’s also way worse if there’s an injury (*touch wood*) involved.
Dealing with Emotions and Burnout
All of us have bad days - loved ones passing away, breakups, period pains, random car breakdowns, anxiety attacks and the list goes on. These are honestly tough situations regardless of your job but it can get a little harder when they happen randomly and the studio can’t get a last minute replacement. There will be days where you’ll have to hold back tears and that quiver in your voice as you speak in front of a class.
If you’ve started reading this article because you’re burnt out from your existing job and want a change, it’s really something that happens more often than you think among yoga teachers. While a lot think about the physical energy required to teach (which is also plenty), most of us forget about the mental and emotional energy.
‘Why aren’t students returning?’
‘Am I even good enough?’
‘It’s Monday again and it’s been a month since I last practiced’
There will be days where you start to doubt yourself, feel uninspired, or even wonder if you’ve made the correct choice to leave your previous job.
Change in Lifestyle
Meal times will be erratic. You’ll likely be teaching 2 evening classes on most weekdays, which means that dinner is either really early before your 6+pm class, or really late after your second class ends which is around 8-9+pm.
Weekends = peak time for yoga classes.
Having brunch or meet ups with your friends and family over the weekends will also be tough. Dating too, if your significant other has a 9-5 job and is only free on weekends. Even though you might have some time after classes, you’ll likely be tired.
‘But I only gotta teach 2 classes a day so that’s just 2 hours of work’
You’ll be up for a surprise. A considerable amount of time goes into class planning, researching and experimenting, continuing education, being stuck in traffic and also doing administrative work like tracking payments from different studios. I do enjoy running my errands without the rush hour crowd but I also miss living a normal life on some days.
Before this sounds like it’s all doom and gloom, I think we should understand that all of these are trade offs for the other good things that come with teaching. Every career has its own set of challenges and it really depends on what type of challenges you can live with. Choose your hard.