New yoga teachers are often so excited to start teaching that they agree to any class they can get on the schedule. Who can relate? No matter how long you've been teaching, you might step out of your passion zone to get in with a popular studio.
With thousands of students getting certified to teach every year, studios might get hundreds of applications when a space opens up on the schedule. In the business of yoga, there is competition and teachers try everything to stand out: agree to early morning or late evening classes, time slots that aren't well attended, and teaching yoga styles they're not super familiar with or passionate about.
As a business, the yoga studio is most concerned with meeting the needs of their clientele and not necessarily with supporting teachers in offering their soul gifts. So, if we're striving to teach full time, how do we find balance in meeting the demand of the market and sharing ourselves authentically as teachers?
Know your niche.
The best teachers teach from experience. What triggers you to practice yoga? The human condition is universal. If yoga helps you de-stress after a long day, or feel invigorated before work it's likely other people will find the same benefit.
What specialty is born from your own yoga journey? Think back to why you started practicing yoga regularly. Was it for fitness, emotional regulation, introspection & self-inquiry, managing anxiety, preparing for a baby, embodying your sexuality, balancing your energy, connecting with like-minded community...or anything else? When we teach from our own yoga journey, we teach from a place of authenticity.
What style of yoga were you trained in? This is where you have experience, and experience talks in the yoga world. Don't be afraid to integrate "non-yoga" practices into your classes to make them stand out!
Once you identify the niche you're most passionate about and experienced in, stick to it and develop a well-rounded skill set to share with students who are looking for the benefits of that niche.
Research the market.
What type of classes are popular in your area? Envision your ideal student and talk to people to see if your students are around just waiting for a class like yours. You might be surprised that the local clientele is hungry for more than what's already on the schedule!
Do you see any holes you could fill at the studio of your dreams? Once you've identified your niche, and set the intention to attract your ideal students, type up a class description that would be the juiciest thing you could ever dream of calling your job. Again, don't be afraid to incorporate "non-yoga" elements to help your class stand out and to introduce people to how yoga can be more than just a physical practice. Stop in to your favorite studio and ask if the manager might be interested in adding classes that will make their studio stand out!
Value your time.
When you teach yoga, you spend energy. You invest yourself in prep work and delivering your classes. You give yourself away. Seva is valuable and if you have energy to spare, offering free or donation based classes is a blessing! Most new yoga teachers feel weird about charging for their classes, but remember you invested money in your own study and training, and that's what your students are benefiting from. Money is energy and if you're agreeing to spending more energy than you're getting back, you're most likely going to burn out.
Go where you're appreciated.
When looking for new locations to teach, follow your intuition. If it feels like a studio or gym is hiring you just to fill a time slot, say no thanks. Your skill set is unique and your magic is valuable. Don't compromise just to get on the schedule. You could get stuck teaching a class you don't entirely believe in, to students you don't really resonate with, and teaching yoga could quickly become just like any other dull job. My advice is don't risk losing touch with your passion!
If you know your niche, know your local market, value your time, and go where you're appreciated, you will find your tribe and will realize that you don't need to compromise your authenticity in order to meet the demand. Know deep within your being that your yoga journey is absolutely unique and the magic you have to share is desired by the world! This is how we nurture the soul of yoga in our communities.
About the Author
Nancy Cooke is the lead teacher trainer for our 200-hour course, and also leads our retreats and continuing education intensive around the world. Teaching since 2012, she enjoys coupling yoga with reiki, sound healing, fire and cacao ceremonies, as well as women's circles.