A few days before I left for my yoga teacher training course I decided I didn't need to do it. Yoga was something I loved but I couldn't envisage how it would bring me in an income and so it seemed like an extremely indulgent way to spend a lot of money that I didn't have spare! Thankfully I pushed my doubts to the back of my mind and convinced myself that, if anything, it would be a good holiday and chance to travel. Not only did the course open my eyes to the many facets of yoga, by the time I returned home I was filled with a new enthusiasm for something I loved. Over the last few years I have managed to turn my passion for yoga into a career that really does make me happy. It's not been easy and I have had other jobs at times to help support me, but it is totally possible. If you're wondering how, read on....
Be open to opportunities : Over the next few years I took on all the opportunities to teach yoga that came my way. From adults with mental health difficulties and chair yoga for people with MS, to recovering alcoholics and even a stint at the Chelsea Flower Show teaching yoga to homeless people. I'm always open to a challenge and when asked if I can do something my instinctive response, if no, is 'not yet'. This growth mindset is a massive bonus when starting your own business and career.
Find your niche : Through teaching so many different classes to such a wide range of people, I gradually found a handful of regular yoga sessions that became my staple work. I had no desire to compete with the multitude of yoga teachers in the area and so I followed the alternative, therapeutic path that I had started to tread. I also combined yoga with my 'day job' through linking with the local college that I worked at, seeking funding and providing classes at the college and within the community. It was a natural progression to bring yoga into the work I was already doing.
Diversify : I love studying! It's one of the things that led me to teaching initially - learning is one of the most empowering gifts we can give. Every year I seem to do another course, building on my skills. This increases the number of 'services' I am able to offer and therefore my ability to earn an income widens. Whilst it's good to have a niche, it's also handy to have different things you can do within that niche.
Know your strengths AND your weaknesses : When I first started teaching yoga I tried to literally do everything. This is normal as it's expensive to pay graphic designers, web developers and marketing experts. However, over the years I've realised that I can't do it all and have slowly started to enlist a few experts in their field to help. This frees up my time and allows me to focus on the things I'm good at. In many ways, it ends up making economic sense to spend a bit of money rather than waste a lot of time.
Value yourself : It's all to easy to undersell ourselves, especially if we are new to something and our confidence is not so high. The most important advice about turning a passion into a career, especially with something like yoga, is to know what you are worth and believe it. A lot of the time people don't go with the cheapest option anyway as they think it must be just that - cheap! Research what the going rate is in your area, be realistic about where you sit in that and then stick to your guns.
Be kind to other teachers : Whilst yoga is a calming, nurturing practice, when building a career around it it is still an industry. People may see you as competition and indeed you may well be. Regardless of this, be graceful, kind and open. Create networks of other kind, supportive teachers; these are your colleagues not your competition. There are always enough students to go around, and if we remember 'Apararigraha', non-grasping, it becomes clear that trying to be possessive over clients is not in the true essence of yoga. Plus it just doesn't work, be open and things flow.
Have patience : Rome wasn't built in a day! It takes time to establish yourself and during this time you will also be finding your own teaching strength, niche and voice. Teaching yoga can definitely become a career if you are patient, flexible in your approach and focused.
For many, teaching yoga is an addition to a current career or lifestyle and it offers many benefits. Our students are our biggest teachers, bringing up questions that we may never have thought to ask. We learn about ourselves constantly and we delve deeper into the teachings of yoga as we want to learn more to offer to our students. Regardless of whether you plan to teach full time or share the odd class, the cycle of teaching and learning will always lead to growth.