7 Things Nobody Told You About
Building A Yoga Business
If you’re anything like Michael and I, you started a yoga practice to reduce stress, reconnect with yourself, or maybe even tone up a little bit. But somewhere between your first down-dog and mastering side crow, a transformation started to take place.
Suddenly, your new passion for yoga became all you could think about and the next thing you knew, you were enrolled in a teacher training program.
This seems to be how many yoga teachers get started. And then suddenly there are thoughts of making a career out of yoga. Maybe you started to dream of turning this passion into more than just a hobby… after all, life as a yoga teacher seems idyllic! Finally getting to wear comfortable clothing all day (hello yoga pants, goodbye suit)… flexible schedules (with lots of free time for your own practice, surely!)… and a constant state of zen + calm (no more feeling frazzled and exhausted from being in the “rat race” right?).
Not to mention that most yogis seem to have found the fountain of youth!
So what does a career in yoga really look like? How do you get started? Can you earn enough to support yourself?
After 9+ years of teaching yoga and creating my own yoga business, Michael and I are collaborating to help a handful of yoga teachers make their yoga business dreams a reality. The good news is that you can create a profitable + sustainable career sharing this beautiful practice. But there is a LOT more to a thriving yoga business than just teaching a few classes a week!
7 Things Nobody Tells You About Building A Yoga Business
#1: There’s no such thing as regular hours.
There seems to be this myth that yoga teachers have an amazing work-life balance… after all, you’re no longer in the rat race for 40 hours a week in a poorly lit cubicle. Now you create your OWN hours!
The truth? Many teachers struggle with working too much. When you’re piecing classes together for a living you often forget all the other time that goes into teaching (including planning your classes, making playlists, driving time between studios, answering emails, promoting your classes). It adds up!
You may also find yourself working opposite hours from your family & friends. Consider this – some of the most popular classes are often early morning (before people head off to work) and in the evenings (the highly coveted 5:30 and 7:00 time spots) after work. Maybe not a huge deal at first… but many yogis 1) find it challenging to organize their family schedule around those hours so they can teach and 2) it’s stressful when it feels like you’re sacrificing family/friend/fun time for teaching.
Wisdom Tip: Map out your ideal weekly calendar. Give yourself at least 1 day a week OFF (seriously – too many yogis are working 24/7) so you can decompress and reconnect with yourself + loved ones. Consider what you really want your lifestyle and work schedule to look like. Go ahead and create your ideal work + life calendar so that you have something to work towards. Block out teaching times, prepping times, and marketing + admin times. Build in time for your own practice as well and time to relax with friends and family. As you become more intentional with your time, you can begin to shift your yoga business to match your ideal calendar.
#2: You’ll be tempted to put your own practice on the back-burner.
It sounds crazy… but many teachers struggle to find time for their own practice once they start teaching. Getting to a class for me? Who has time for that?
When you’ve been teaching all day, getting to the mat might feel like the last thing you want to do (after all, the sofa + House of Cards is sooo appealing). But the quickest way to lose your inspiration + passion for yoga is to stop practicing.
Wisdom Tip: Prioritize your practice. Create sacred time for your practice that you can really commit to every day. If the idea of coming home and practicing after a long day isn’t working – do your practice in the morning. Can’t get to the studio every day? Put on a yoga stream from YogaGlo. Even a 20-minute practice will help you stay connected to your passion.
BONUS – schedule a time to meet someone for a local class. Not only will you get inspired, but you’ll be supporting other amazing local teachers, building relationships with local studios, and getting your face out in your community. Win-win-win.
#3: Teaching studio-group classes is just the beginning.
Now for a HUGE dose of reality…
Most yoga teachers are simply not able to make a living on studio-group classes alone. We could crunch numbers in many different scenarios but all lead to the same conclusion – you can only teach so many classes in a week. Even if you fill every class and have 25 classes a week, you may still struggle to earn a livable income (especially if you live in a more expensive city).
Wisdom Tip: Get crystal clear on your baseline income requirements – the amount you need to cover your essential expenses (make sure to include all living expenses, desired savings, healthcare, etc.). Add 30% on top of that to account for random expenses and taxes.
Then think about your DESIRED income. This isn’t about becoming selfish or greedy. This is about getting YOUR NEEDS met and living a full vibrant life you love! Where do you want to upgrade your life? Do you want a nicer apartment? Ability to pay for a vacation each year? Extra cash to pay for your yoga education? How about going on a yoga retreat just for you?
Once you can see what your baseline + desired income is, you can actually start to figure out if teaching classes will be enough to achieve that income level (not sure? ASK! Shoot me an email and ask what the pay range is for teaching studio classes.)
Numbers not measuring up? Then it’s time to look at alternative streams of income. Classes can be a great foundational income stream, but getting closer to your desired income will be much easier if you can add in higher price offerings such as corporate yoga, privates, workshops, events, a special class series, or maybe even get more creative in the short-term and rent a room on Airbnb. If you’re a more experienced teacher or have a specialty you can bring to yoga – one of the BIGGEST opportunities in the yoga industry today is simply offering mentorship to newer teachers and creating specialty training programs.
#4: Keep your day job (for now).
Just because you graduated teacher training, doesn’t mean you should quit your day job just yet!
A sustainable yoga business doesn’t happen overnight. Seriously. DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. OVERNIGHT.
Unfortunately, we see so many yogis get blinded by all the rainbows and love and light that they make these huge decisions to leave a stable paying job and hope the universe will provide for them.
We’re all about trusting the universe… but it also makes sense to be practical. And unless you wanna be another broke yogi, you should be too!
Wisdom Tip: Consider your day job a springboard and a blessing. It’s allowing you to build up your yoga business on the side without the stress of wondering how you’re gonna pay the rent + put food on the table.
Ease out of your day job and ease into your yoga business. Know what your required baseline income is and build up your yoga income to cover it. This will allow you to make a much smoother transition and remove the financial pressure off yourself while you’re getting more teaching experience, building your community, and learning the ropes of the business side of yoga.
#5: There are UNLIMITED opportunities to teach (when you create them).
There are thousands of new yoga teachers constantly graduating from teacher trainings around the world. And while there are all sorts of research telling us the demand for yoga is going up, there is still a flood of new teachers entering the market. Your city or community is likely no different.
The key is to differentiate yourself. Each time you go into a studio to inquire about teaching and drop off a resume… know that it’s likely going on a pile of dozens of other resumes. Because the studios and gyms are flooded with people wanting to teach – and not enough classes to go around.
Many new teachers, especially in yoga-loving places like NYC, LA, SF, and even Portland, feel completely disheartened when they discover that many studios require not only an RYT-200, but also years of teaching experience and possibly even further advanced training.
How the heck are you supposed to get experience when you can’t even find a studio to teach at?
Wisdom Tip: Get creative!
Studios + gyms aren’t the only places to teach. Not by a long shot.
There are literally unlimited opportunities for you to teach yoga when you get creative and commit to starting up a class on your own. Does it take more work to get a class rolling on your own – it sure does! You have to find a location, promote it, take payments, and keep super organized so that everything runs smoothly.
I branched out and started offering workshops, one-on-one sessions, special events and training programs at a private studio space several years ago. These flex spaces are all over the place and are often underutilized. It’ll take some legwork to find a space and start getting the word out, but it’s worth it as you begin building your own community.
Where else can you teach? Local parks. Art museums. Community centers. Shared workspaces. Offices. Churches. Holistic health centers. Retreat centers. Rec centers. Farmers markets. Breweries. Virtually anywhere! Grab a local events guide or go online and see where people are doing things in your community.
If you happen to have the space at home – consider creating an in-home yoga studio. When Michael lived in Boise, one of his neighbors held yoga classes in her home and in the community rec center 3-4 times per week. She and her husband converted their downstairs family room into a gorgeous studio where she taught yoga, Pilates and mediation.
A HUGE perk of creating your own classes? You get to keep 100% of the profits (after expenses) — which can often be dramatically more than you’d get paid to teach at a studio or gym — and you often can save hours per week by eliminating the need to drive all over town!
#6: You gotta be the BOSS.
The biggest challenge you’ll face as a self-employed Yogi? Your own resistance.
When you’ve got a job, you’re held accountable. When you work for yourself, you’ve gotta hold yourself accountable. This can be hard. You will come up with a million excuses why you aren’t doing what you know you really need to do.
Your dreams don’t create themselves! And that means you only make a living when you’re out there hustling and making it happen. Your paycheck depends on YOU.
Wisdom Tip: Commit to turning Pro! The minute you commit to being a Pro – something shifts inside you. You don’t allow yourself to fly by the seat of your pants any longer. You show up. You do the work that needs to get done so you can share more of what you love.
Check out the book, ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield.
A professional athlete KNOWS that if she’s gonna stake her claim, she’s gotta commit to her workout, her nutrition, and her mindset. Every. Single. Day.
A professional writer KNOWS that waiting for “inspiration to hit” results in zero books! He sits down every day and writes. He tells inspiration “Here I am and I’m ready for you!”.
A professional musician KNOWS that if she’s gonna be the best, if she’s gonna stay at the top of her game – she’s gotta get her booty in a practice room and get to work.
Ready to dive into creating your dream yoga business? Make sure you check out our brand new 6-week online program: Elevate Your Yoga Biz.
#7: It’s NOT just about teaching yoga.
If you really wanna have a successful yoga business – you MUST EMBRACE MINDFUL MARKETING.
Look, we know you wanna just eat, breathe, and sleep yoga. But the minute you decide to teach & build… this practice isn’t just about you. It’s about sharing yoga with the world!
And sharing (i.e. marketing) your yoga is the difference between an expensive hobby and a profitable + sustainable business.
Nobody ever sat Michael and I down and told us that sales and marketing needed to be our #1 priority. And if this weren’t obvious to a woman that was in financial services for over 13 years and a guy, my awesome husband, who spent years in software sales then I can only imagine how hard it must be for the aspiring yoga teacher that’s fresh out of teacher training.
The most important lesson that you will ever learn about building a sustainable yoga business is that your success (and financial stability) will come from expertly communicating the value of what you do – not rebranding your website, re-arranging your playlist, or taking another 200 hour teacher training.
Wisdom Tip: Discover the style of marketing that works best for YOU!
Not all marketing is created equal. And you should choose the method that works best for you. There’s absolutely no reason to engage in marketing activities that give you the heebie jeebies. We’ve all experienced that. And hated it.
The good news – you get to do marketing your way! I have built an incredible community through mindful marketing that suites me. And the best part? You can too! You can find the style + flavor that feels natural and effortless for you.
Are you a people person who loves meeting new people at big events? Your marketing sweet spot may be attending big events like Wanderlust and connecting with people face-to-face.
Are you a more introspective soul who finds solace in your journal? Your marketing sweet spot could be sharing your pearls of wisdom via a blog.
Are you someone who loves taking photos? Then maybe your marketing sweet spot will be found on Instagram.
Don’t buy into the belief that you have to do what everyone else is doing if you know it’s not a fit. Discover what works for YOU!
We would love to hear from you! What questions do you have about building your dream yoga business? Just comment below and let us know!
BIG NEWS, friends!
The thing Michael and I have been working on for the last couple of months. The thing we’ve been creating and recreating and planning to release. IT IS FINALLY HERE.
In Elevate Your Yoga Business, Michael and I will be taking a group of yogis on a 6-week adventure to creating their dream yoga business. It’s all about education + inspiration + accountability + support + community all in ONE AMAZING program.
It’s going to be AWESOME and you should join us.
Click here to learn all about it or click here to schedule a time to meet with us for 30 minutes and ask questions to determine if this is the right thing for you.
Jill & Michael