Where can I teach yoga?
In our last article, we looked at some practical activities that can help kick-start your yoga teaching career. These are important tasks, without a doubt, though what’s essential is that you gain teaching experience as soon as possible and teach yoga as often as you can.
For newly qualified yoga teachers, this is a guide to where you can teach and how to get valuable teaching experience.
Your first instinct is probably to approach local yoga studios. It’s a wise move but remember that yoga studios are the most difficult place to gain work as a new teacher. In ‘Choosing the right yoga teacher training course’ we indicated how training in the location where you want to teach will improve your chances of getting hired by a local studio. While that’s true, the following additional factors can further boost your candidacy with yoga studios.
Practise at the studios you want to work in. A big frustration of yoga studio owners is receiving applications from teachers who have never attended their classes. Each studio has a unique brand and approach to teaching, as well as a type of client, which you should familiarise yourself with first. Studios want to employ people already part of their communities, who share the same values and who enjoy the yoga taught there. Find a studio culture that resonates with you. Then, if you attend classes there regularly and become an enthusiastic member of the studio, you’ll have a better chance of being hired as a teacher.
Offer to assist the studio owner. Studio owners are BUSY people. And any offer of assistance is always appreciated. You should treat this as an exchange for your services. Whether you assist the teacher during classes, tidy up afterward, help out at events, or offer other skills in marketing or accounting, you should expect something in return. That could be free classes, a discounted membership, or a place on a continuous development program. Even if this doesn’t result in a teaching job, it’s a fantastic experience where you can learn, first-hand, how to run yoga classes.
Become a substitute teacher. Those busy studio owners, and other teachers who may work for them, have holidays sometimes. Or they might get sick, can’t organise childcare, or need a night off to catch up with admin. While a regular job might be currently unavailable, throughout the year, yoga studios will require teachers to fill in when an employee is off work. Make them aware that you’d like adding to the substitute teacher list and demonstrate how dependable you are when they need you. Also, teaching people used to taking lessons with someone else is challenging. If you can do this and succeed early in your teaching career, then you’ll go far.
Suggest a trial for your niche. Like any business, yoga studios want employees with ideas. Those who can spot an opportunity and have the creative skills and determination to make it work. If you are a yoga teacher with a particular niche – be it children’s yoga or yoga for pregnancy and birth – and want to teach in a studio that doesn’t currently offer these classes, then propose the idea. See if you can secure a trial period on the regular timetable. You might specialise in a yoga style which the studio is keen to offer clients, or want to teach classes in yoga philosophy, meditation, and other non-asana focused areas. Another idea is asking if you can teach during non-peak times. This will challenge your marketing skills too – can you fill a class at 7 am on Sundays?
Gyms, Health Clubs and Spas
Although it’s not a sport, doing yoga as a form of fitness has increased significantly in recent years. Yoga is also a recommended activity for athletes and sportspeople who want to avoid injuries. As our understanding of human anatomy continues to improve, the physical benefits of having a yoga practice will encourage more people to include yoga in their regular fitness routines.
It’s no surprise that yoga has become a popular feature on the timetables at gyms and health clubs. Most organisations operating in that industry now offer members yoga classes alongside traditional cardio and strength-based group exercise. The UK has the second-highest number of gyms and health clubs in Europe – around 7,000 nationwide. These businesses are always on the look-out for new yoga teachers.
Working in a gym is a great experience for newly qualified yoga teachers because you’ll likely be teaching people who wouldn’t usually attend a traditional yoga class. Without any predetermined expectations, you can experiment with different things and build your confidence over time. You may require a REPS qualification to teach in a gym or fitness centre, and you should expect to undergo a trial/audition before being hired. It’s worth noting, too, that gyms pay less than other venues, but offer more regular work.
Another potential issue with teaching yoga in a gym or fitness centre is the environment. You’ll probably be working in a brightly lit section of the gym/fitness centre surrounded by exercise equipment and listening to loud dance music as you stretch. While some larger gyms/fitness centres do have special yoga rooms, if a gym environment is a major problem, you could consider teaching in spas, which tend to offer clients more tranquil exercise and mindfulness spaces.
Public and Private Sector Organisations
Employee health and wellbeing is now a major focus for companies across all industry sectors. To attract the best people, organisations are increasingly creative around the health and wellbeing benefits they offer employees. These may include cycle to work schemes, discounted gym memberships, and free counselling services.
Yoga and meditation are also on the workplace agenda. As more evidence emerges of how yoga and meditation can help reduce stress, ease pain caused by prolonged periods sitting at a desk, and boost morale and productivity, employers are looking at how they can introduce yoga and meditation to office life.
Often, this may involve paying a local studio a fixed price to enable employees to attend classes if and when they like. In larger businesses, however, yoga teachers are usually invited to teach yoga and meditation classes in the office itself. A company may have a large breakout area to accommodate these activities, or in some cases, companies are investing in bespoke yoga studios inside office buildings.
Office-based yoga classes will most likely take place at lunchtime. Though, depending on the company and set-up, you may find yourself teaching before 9 am or in the evenings.
To secure work in this context, it’s a good idea to target organisations in your local area large enough to subsidise yoga and meditation classes to employees. Ideally, you want to find a company that isn’t currently offering yoga. You can then sell ‘sell’ your proposition to them.
Companies are also generally keen to promote their benefits packages, so keep an eye on websites and newsfeeds, the business news, and business awards to see which firms are demonstrating best practice by placing employee health and wellbeing at the heart of their cultures.
Word of mouth is another common route to gaining office-based yoga teaching work. Ask around in your network and consider creating a profile on professional networking sites like LinkedIn to improve your chances of getting hired.
If you already work in an office environment, then this could be an ideal place to begin. Approach your colleagues in the first instance and see if they’re interested. And even if the business can’t subsidise classes, they may still allow you to teach in the building. You can then agree on a set price with your colleagues and get started.
Community Centres, Care Homes, and Schools
Many small towns and villages won’t have a dedicated yoga studio, so instead local people rely on community-oriented buildings such as community centres, libraries, and religious institutions to get their yoga fix.
Teachers should approach employers directly for opportunities or enquire with the local council about hiring a space. In a similar vein, yoga teachers are also often found in religious institutions such as churches, synagogues, and temples.
Renting a room at a community centre or other community-oriented building is usually more cost-effective than a city centre room-for-hire option. You should expect an older clientele to attend classes at these venues. This is a great way to build your confidence and create a community within a community.
You may consider offering donation-based classes to attract people when you first set-up. We advise against this, as it devalues the yoga industry.
Before setting your prices, always explore what other people in your area are charging and match them. By all means, offer discounts to new/certain students but avoid going down the donation/free route. You’ve put lots of time, money and energy into training to become a yoga teacher, and you deserve financial rewards for your efforts.
Another option is to approach care homes and retirement villages. If you’ve already gained experience teaching yoga to seniors, then you’ll likely jump the queue when applying to these organisations.
Hospitals, too, now offer yoga classes for long-term patients.
Finally, much like the business world, educators are also beginning to acknowledge the benefits yoga can have on student mental health. Schools, colleges, and universities, if not already offering yoga as an extracurricular activity, will be keen to hear from yoga teachers with ideas of how yoga can be integrated into regular learning programs. Bear in mind that you’ll require a CRB / DBS check before being able to teach in these institutions.
Private Classes, Workshops, and Retreats
Once you gain some experience in any of the above settings, you can start advertising private yoga classes. While people love to attend group events and meet fellow yogis, others will benefit more from having a personal yoga instructor.
It’s not just rich housewives buying private yoga classes either. It could be a sportsperson recovering from injury, someone with social anxiety who prefers one-to-one interaction, or an individual with a medical condition who can’t travel far.
If you don’t have a dedicated space to host these sessions, don’t worry, as it’s quite common for teachers to take private yoga classes at their clients’ homes. Always make sure, however, that your safety is being taken into consideration before agreeing to this arrangement.
Private yoga classes can be offered to small groups too, and tied into special occasions like birthdays, hen parties, or school reunions.
Running private yoga workshops and yoga retreats is another great way to boost your income as a yoga teacher. If you can negotiate an arrangement with a luxury venue e.g. a spa, historic building, or high-end hotel, this will improve the chances of selling spaces on your yoga workshop or retreat.
Any event or occasion deemed exclusive is always popular in the yoga community. Over time, and as your confidence and reputation grow, you could even consider hosting an overseas yoga retreat in an exotic location.
There’s less risk involved in working for a venue (yoga studio, gym, etc.) than setting up private yoga classes, yoga workshops, and yoga retreats. While your earning potential is comparatively higher, the cost of venue hire, equipment, and any marketing efforts means you could be operating at a loss until you have enough students to cover your expenses.
For new yoga teachers, the most important thing is getting as much teaching practise as possible. It could take time to get established in any of the teaching context outlines above. So, in the meantime, why not offer classes to friends and family.
These could take place at your house or theirs, during a group holiday or even at the local park. Remember, during this early stage of your yoga teaching career, you need to build confidence as well as develop your teaching style and approach. Friends and family will offer support, encouragement as well as constructive feedback that you wouldn’t necessarily get from anyone else.
Collaborating with other new yoga teachers is another good way to kick start your yoga teaching career. Organise special events – outdoor events, in particular, are popular in the summer – and pool your resources and contacts to ensure you get enough people along.
These sessions can become publicity opportunities too. Gets someone you trust to photograph or video the events and share these widely on our social media channels.