I suppose this goes back to the “how much is a yoga teacher worth?” question, and for those of us who don’t want to return to the corporate life, yoga teaching is my vocation, my avocation, and my personal dharma. I know more than a few teachers who also do massage or another holistic practice or their yoga teaching is a “sideline” and they rely on another’s income (and health insurance.)
I know very few yoga teachers who totally support themselves by only teaching yoga. because of a life-changing decision I have made, I may have to get a part-time job. but I know I will never stop teaching yoga and Buddha/Kali/Shiva willing, I will do this the rest of my life, either in the US or in India. I still need to finish my Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation training at Spirit Rock, and in October I start Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training. in late 2009 I plan on living two months in an ashram in South India studying yoga therapy with a swami. this will require me to give up two steady yoga gigs, or at least get subs for them. as I mentioned in another post, for those of us who do these lengthy trainings, there is no guarantee we will have yoga jobs when we get back. this is the reality of the yoga biz. but this is my commitment to myself, to immerse myself as much as I can — at my age I have a lot less time on this earth than if I would have started this path 30 or even 20 years ago.
everything I earn gets plowed right back into my yoga biz (I’m incorporated.) I am over 50 and this is my life plan and nothing will keep me from it. I know this is my path and I have given it up to the Universe to follow this path for the rest of my life.
what will you give up to be a yoga teacher?
I live in the Chicago area where there is a plethora of yoga teacher training programs all costing beaucoup bucks. this is where the yoga money is made, in teacher trainings and offering workshops. a well-known American yoga teacher who was on the same retreat that I was told me that she rarely teaches group classes anymore, that she makes her money on her branded teacher trainings and traveling the world doing workshops.
when I was certified in 2002 there were only four training programs in Chicago that I knew of. now almost every major studio both in the city and suburbs, and some not-so-major, have teacher training programs that train you in “their” brand of yoga. and of course there are the weekend programs (become a yoga teacher in 16 hours!) and the online yoga teacher training courses where voila!…anyone with a computer can become a yoga teacher. of course, not everyone who does a training wants to be a teacher, some do it to deepen their yoga knowledge.
for a while I thought of starting my own teacher training program, which would actually be unique in my area because I would incorporate yoga therapy and Buddhism, no other local training offers that. but I decided I don’t want to be tied down with that right now…my next two years are going to be for my own yoga sadhana culminating in the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, India in 2010.
so where are y’all going to teach? after spending thousands of dollars on your training will you be happy making $4 or $5 or $6 when one student shows up to the studio? I made $12 again last night. I used to teach at a studio where students paid $5 for their first class and the owner did not pay the teachers for those students because she would “lose money.” some months I had so many first-timers in my classes I lost over $100 in monthly income. I’m not crying about this, this is the reality of the yoga biz.
people want yoga for the same fees that they are paying with their gym memberships. and everybody — every spa, chiropractic center, gym, and physical therapy office — wants in on what they view as big bucks to be made in yoga. the yoga biz in America — a gazillion dollar business according to Yoga Journal.
but who’s making the dough and where’s the dharma?
I have a friend who’s convinced that everyone doing teacher trainings nowadays are delusional, that they’ve all drunk the Yoga Journal kool-aid about becoming a yoga teacher.