Many new yoga teachers I talk to say that they have been frustrated when trying to get in the door at a yoga studio. In this article, I will suggest an approach to this challenge at the beginning of your yoga career.
Here’s the reality check: thousands of bright-eyed people graduate from yoga teacher training courses in the United States every year. When you send out your resume, drop in at studios to schedule an interview or audition, or start asking at the front desk about getting a job, you are most likely one of many that week alone.
This is one of the counterintuitive things about getting started teaching: we usually want to emulate the teachers who have inspired us, and who have trained us, and most likely they have been teaching at our home studio for many years.
But this is a hard thing to do!
The in-between steps from being a student in a large studio class, to being the teacher of a similar class are often invisible to us, and usually not revealed in our teacher training courses.
Think about it: how many classes are there on the schedule at your local studio? Now, how many students graduate from that studio’s teacher training alone each year? Next, ask yourself how long the teachers who are on that schedule already have been teaching at those times —how many of them are ready to just walk away from the classes they have spent a lot time and energy building?
How rare is an opening in a prime time slot, and how many other teachers may be ahead of you in line?
I am not giving you this reality check to depress you. Rather, it is coming from the principle that the more realistically we perceive a situation, the more effectively we can deal with it, by creating and achieving reasonable goals.
Here are three suggestions:
1. Start Teaching Private Yoga
Shift your emphasis from studio classes to privates. Large studio classes are part of a long-term process. Yes, they allow you to build a student base for workshops and retreats, but this takes time, and we’ll discuss one strategy to make this happen lower down the list.
It is unwise to expect to make a living teaching studio classes in your first year. The fastest and most reliable way to start making a living teaching yoga at first is private instruction.
This is something I mentor new teachers in all the time, with great results! Start with two or three good photos, a simple website, business cards, and you’re ready to go. More details in a future article on how to get established teaching privates, but for now start to shift you attention (and intention) in this direction.
2. Become Part Of The Community
Choose more than one studio. I recommend starting with two. But don’t come right through the front door asking for a job. Take classes, get to know the people who work there, find teachers you genuinely connect with and ask them good yoga questions.
In short: become part of the community, and once people know you, start easing into your inquiry about teaching there. Be patient, create relationships, build trust and good karma. As in many other areas, who you know can be key —and yoga studios are equal part businesses and community networks of friends and colleagues.
3.** Be Patient and Pay Your Dues: Do Great Work!**
Here’s what to expect once you do get in the door: usually the path to even getting on the schedule at a studio involves starting on the sub list.
If this is step one for you, rock it! Make yourself as available as you can. Say “Yes!” Cover as many classes as you can, show up on time, do a great job, thank the teachers for the opportunity, interact with the desk staff and let them see you are both professional and excited to be there.
If you do well subbing, many studios will have community classes, donation or lunch-time classes, sometimes free introductory classes that are often made available to new teachers. Let them know you are available.
Stay with it. A class time on the regular schedule may be in your future. Keep your eyes and ears open! In the meantime, if you are cultivating your private yoga business, it will be easier to remain patient.
Best of luck with your new career, please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below, or contact me anytime —I am all ears!