As you know, teaching yoga is by far one of the most rewarding jobs anyone can have. It’s far more than just teaching people how to stretch — it’s guiding people to understand themselves on a deep level. It’s teaching someone how approach challenges, and how to breathe through them. It’s teaching someone how to calm their mind, and reconnect with their own spirit.
There is the down side though.
Sadly, the majority of yoga teachers find it difficult to sustain a real living on a yoga teachers salary. In fact, you’d be lucky if you get a ‘salary’ at all — most of the time, teachers get paid as freelancers on an hourly basis or based on a head count, which averages between $10 and $30 an hour.
But coming from a yoga teacher who’s been figuring it out for 8 years — don’t fret! I’ve figured out some fantastic ways to cultivate new and additional income, to make full time yoga teaching a reality for myself:
- Organize Events & Workshops
This tip is more for advanced yoga instructors who have some experience under their belt and are ready to take things to the next level, while also creating better income. If you have a special ‘thing’ you like to teach — whether it’s handstands, acro yoga, juicy heart openers, or breathwork… well, then it’s time to start owning your power and promoting your special skills!
If you don’t know where you can do a special workshop or event — just start by checking for similar events or workshops already going on in your area. (it’s easy to search Google or Facebook.) Then, either go to these events and start networking, or approach the venue owners directly and pitch them your event idea.
Pro tip: Be PRO-ACTIVE. Your special events won’t happen on their own. I’ve had to go out of my way to find the right event space, create and print off my own fliers, and do all of the marketing. But guess what? It’s so worth it. I’ve made up to $400 with just one 90 minute event — and that’s definitely a pay increase from the typical $20/hour yoga class.
Organizing workshops or events isn’t just good for your business… it will also grow you by pushing you out of your comfort zone, and helping you to become more known in the community as an expert in your field. Even if only a couple people show up, it’s better than not doing the event at all!
2. Offer Classes Without a Venue
Often times, most of the money students spend of a yoga class is going directly back into the yoga studio owners pocket (80%, on average). How can we get paid more? By taking out all that overhead that the studio has, of course!
So: start researching places where you can teach yoga classes without a venue. Whether it’s your parents backyard, a public park, or maybe in an awesome remote location under the stars for a candlelit flow.
I started teaching classes in the gorgeous red rock desert (where I grew up). Not only were my students more than thrilled to practice yoga in such a beautiful outdoor setting, but I felt like my energy was more fairly exchanged, and I ended up making more money than I could in a yoga studio setting.
3. Do Yoga Trades
Honestly, this may be the best way to make teaching yoga worth it — teaching yoga in exchange for all expenses paid exotic experiences. Yes, you heard me. I’ve been able to live for free and teach yoga all over the world. Using Yogatrade.com, I’ve found jobs teaching yoga at a boutique hotel in Bali, in the rainforest in Costa Rica, and at a very cool surf hostel in Sri Lanka.
Most of these exchanges have gone like this: I teach one class a day, and they provide me with free food and accommodation. Sure, I’m teaching yoga for free — but without any overhead living costs… what more do I need? Just try this out for a month, I definitely recommend it!
4. Promote Your Classes
More students in class = more money. It’s really simple math, really. The more time you invest in becoming business and marketing savvy, the more your yoga business will thrive. This involves two strategies: finding new clients, and (more importantly) getting your existing clients to show up for class.
To get new clients, you should be promoting yourself on your social media accounts, and also connecting with people everywhere: in the grocery store, the coffee shop, the university, and then inviting everyone to your classes. Make it a goal to tell at least one person a day about who you are and what you offer — and invite them to your next class. In the beginning you might feel shy — but trust me, every time you do this it will get easier.
Also make an effort to promote yourself wherever it is you are teaching — for example, if you’re teaching at a yoga studio, let them know that you’d like to help them with their marketing. They’ll appreciate this, and might offer to pay for promotional content such as posters or boosted social media content.
One of the easiest ways you can invest in marketing is to be on a marketing plan with YogaTrail. I say “easy” because this doesn’t require you having to come up with constant “engaging posts” like on social media. YogaTrail has marketing plans for teachers at all stages in their career, ranging from simple visibility in the local yoga community for yourself and your classes, to email promotions of your upcoming workshops and events. It’s pretty much all automatic, you simply have to make sure your teacher profile looks great and your classes are listed — the YogaTrail platform and helpful team will handle the rest.
As for filling up your classes, the biggest lever here is your ability to motivate existing students to show up. So often we only focus on how to attract new clients, that we forget about all of the loyal students and relationships we’ve already cultivated. The vast majority of the people in your classes are repeat customers. And the vast majority of the people absent from your classes are… you guessed it: repeat customers. People who are choosing to watch TV or do something else, when they could be doing a practise with you.
It’s up to you to motivate these people. You should have their emails in a list so you can reach them once in a while, and again YogaTrail is a great resource for managing and organizing your student list(s) and communicating with your people. It’s also great for sending messages out to students, and it’s entirely free… kind of a no-brainer.
Don’t bother people too often with unimportant “fluff” and “marketing style” emails… but do make sure your students don’t forget about you, and that they know when and where you’re teaching next, or what your upcoming events are about.
5. Run Yoga Retreats
This one takes more time, more planning, and quite a bit of expertise — but is a sure way to make money. I do know people who earn their entire yearly salary just from a few yoga retreats. Yes, it can be done!
Yoga retreats are a great way to provide people with a total yoga immersion, and you get to really be with your students for an extended amount of time, and dive deep. Yoga retreats are a beautiful and enriching experience for your students — and a beautiful and enriching way to make serious money for you as a teacher. It’s a win-win!
Now I know several yoga instructors who suffer from some kind of guilt complex, thinking they shouldn’t be asking for any money to do what they love to do. But here’s the thing: the only way you can continue doing what you love, and in order to grow your craft and make it more accessible to more people is by ensuring you get fair compensation.
With retreats again, it’s simple math. Most retreats cost anywhere from $1500 – $3000 per person, and with a dozen or so clients, this can turn into a great business when compared with teaching yoga classes for $20 a pop. Check out my my retreat website here, for example.