This is me in Bakasana. I couldn’t do this pose when I was going through teacher training. I couldn’t do any inversions without the wall. You don’t have to be an acrobat to teach asana, but you do need to remain a dedicated student and continue to advance your own practice. And my damn elbows are flaring out a bit. It’s always a work in progress.
Seriously, can you answer the question?
The latest statistics tell us over 37 million people are doing yoga in the U.S. every year. The number has been growing and growing. Pretty soon, the more common question may be, “Where do you practice yoga?” instead of, “Do you do yoga?”
Supply and demand, right? If more people are doing yoga, then more yoga studios can open and thrive to accommodate this growing need. That means more teachers are required. More students equal a demand for more teachers. Simple math.
Yet, according to Yoga Alliance, there are well over five thousand yoga teacher training programs in the United States. This includes both 200 and 300-hour programs, and various different tracks. The data that’s not available is how many of these programs offer more than one training per year. My guess is the average program offers a training at least twice a year.
This means the yoga teaching field is now quite saturated, and there’s lots of competition for jobs.
It’s pretty damn difficult for a person to make a living teaching yoga. This does not include the yoga superstars such as Jason Crandell, Katherine Budig, and Faith Hunter. They are in a whole different stratosphere of financially successful, highly respected and widely known teachers. I’m talking about the average teacher who needs to teach around fifteen classes per week, run all over the city, back and forth between studio classes, private clients, gyms, corporations, and universities. It means your day might begin by teaching a 6 a.m. class and end with your evening class getting out at 9 p.m. It will frequently mean three classes a day, and often seven days a week. Boo fucking hoo, right? This is a description of the full-time, ‘successful’ yoga teacher. And s/he probably makes an average of $1,000 a week, if she’s lucky. I know because this is a very accurate description of me. Today, I have a 9:30 a.m. class, then another at noon, and a private group at 5 p.m. Not a bad schedule, right? Actually, that part is pretty great. But I’ll make about $175.00 today, driving to three different locations, and in between, I’ll be doing class prep, updating my playlists, responding to emails from those I’m mentoring in their teacher training, and hustling for more work.
Many things about this life are pretty damn spectacular. But the meager pay and time expenditure is tough. And this is what success looks like in this field. That’s why so few people do it full-time and are even able to get enough classes to be able to.
Most teachers teach 1-3 classes each week. They do it because they want to teach, but they also have another career to pay the bills. For them, it’s a pleasure and it’s disposable income. They teach because they love yoga, and they have something specific they want to offer students.
So what about all the people who go through teacher training with big eyes and goals to become the next Sadie Nardini? Well, that could happen, but it’s a pretty large longshot. It takes a giant commitment and a lot of years to get there. And you have to be damn excellent at it. No one in that world is famous and well-paid because they’re cute. They have something extraordinary to offer, well beyond what most can. Their dedication, knowledge, experience, hard work, and wisdom, plus that extra special ‘something’ is how they pull it off. Their passion created the drive to do all of the above and develop a very far reach.
How about those who obtain their 200-hour certification, but they are still at the beginning stages of their own practice? Why do they want to teach? Maybe they don’t, but believe teacher training will help them develop their own practice and knowledge base faster than practicing every day for years. There’s truth to that. The community, shared experience, and diving in will undoubtedly have a profound impact on your practice and understanding of the vastness that is yoga.
A yoga practitioner’s reasons for completing teacher training only need to be of concern to them. It’s really no one else’s business why you chose to train. But actually teaching yoga is a whole other thing.
Why do you want to teach? It’s a question you should be able to answer. Your answer will change and alter over the years, but it’s a question that needs to be asked again and again. Many people take breaks from teaching because they can’t answer the question anymore. And one day, the answer comes back, and it’s different than the one they used to operate by. My answers have changed over and over throughout the years. Yours will too.
Today, I want to teach to be of service. I want to assist in fostering a student’s desire to connect with themselves and stand tall in facing their emotions, truths, and fears. I want to drive home the importance of safety and making wise decisions in the practice that exists on the mat, and even more so off. I want to encourage nurture and kindness, yet total honesty. I want to teach to share my passion and hopefully spark it in others.