Updated: Oct 1, 2020
I was participating in a conversation in a Facebook group today and a teacher with fifteen years experience told a teacher-in-training that the world did not need anymore yoga teachers who try to make a living from teaching yoga. She actually said, "Don't quit your day job." I was horrified, and I told her so. Who is she to discourage anyone else from pursuing their dreams?
Now, to be fair, no one should quit their day job without having all the facts. If your day job gives you full benefits, paid time off, and a salary that allows you to live the life of your dreams, you had better really despise what you are doing to quit such a good gig, period. You can have these things in the yoga industry, but they don't usually come in such a neat package. If you want to teach yoga full time, now or at some point, there is a way to do it and I think the world needs more professional yoga teachers.
Let's be clear, though, there is a difference between a yoga teacher and a yoga professional. Anyone can be a yoga teacher. No, seriously, anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher and go out into the community and teach yoga. Many yoga teachers of yesteryear became teachers just by taking a few yoga classes themselves. It's not really a regulated industry (thoughts on this in another post!).
Nevertheless, the closest organization we have to a certifying agency is Yoga Alliance. While they are not a credentialing agency, a yoga teacher certified by a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga School (RYS) has at least a 50% chance of having received some education in the following areas: Yoga Philosophy, Anatomy, Ethics, and Teaching Methodology. And even if their program was more technical than philosophical, or more spiritual than anatomical, we know that they have 200 hours of training under their belt. Which is 200 hours more than the un-certified yoga student in their class. While 200 hours does not make anyone an expert in anything, it is a fair start on leading a fitness class. (For perspective, most personal trainers complete about half that many hours to become certified.)
We've established that a 200-hour certified Yoga Teacher is qualified to lead a yoga class for fitness or for educational purposes. So isn't that enough to start a career in yoga? Short answer, no.
Long answer: The eight limbs of yoga teach us that yoga asana (the physical practice of yoga) is only one limb on the path. There are seven other limbs to explore and incorporate into one's personal and professional experience. No one expects you to do that overnight. It takes the time it takes. But furthering one's own knowledge of yoga is an integral part of being an excellent yoga teacher. Practicing yoga poses and posting photos on the 'gram is not enough to build a career in yoga, although it is a necessary part of that career. A Yoga Teacher must grow into a Yoga Professional for a successful career in the yoga industry.
Listen, there is nothing wrong with being a Yoga Teacher. We all start out as Yoga Teachers, and we are proud of the title. We worked hard on ourselves to earn it. Yoga Teachers are passionate about teaching yoga and that's never a bad thing. But the Yoga Professional takes teaching to a new level. It's the difference between being a hired server at a wedding reception, or owning the catering company. The level of responsibility at the event is different, and so is the amount of preparation and follow up required.
What does that look like? Let's compare:
* Arrives on time for class.
* Makes their class up as they go.
* Teaches a good class that students enjoy.
* Teaches 1-2 classes each week for extra money or for fun.
* Considers yoga a hobby.
* Allows the studio to market their class.
* Takes fun workshops on inversions and arm balances.
* Subs out their class or calls out sick without worry.
* Has a friendly relationship with students.
* Arrives early and stays late.
* Plans and practices their class before teaching it.
* Teaches an intentional class that students can't get enough of.
* Teaches 5-15 classes each week to earn a living.
* Considers yoga a lifestyle.
* Helps the studio market their class.
* Takes educational workshops on how to be a better teacher or yogi.
* Calling out or subbing out is reserved for emergencies and planned vacations.
* Nurtures students to seek a deeper relationship with yoga.
You may fall somewhere between these categories now, which is awesome! It means that you are ready to consider a full time career in yoga. Download my FREE workbook to start (or refine) your journey as a Yoga Professional. Inside, I guide you through the steps you'll need to take before you quit your day job. If you want to be a full time Yoga Professional, I'm here to tell you that you can!