Congratulations! You’ve graduated from yoga teacher training with certificate in hand, an impeccably-shaped Downward-Facing Dog, and a renewed sense of purpose. But before you resign from your day job, take some time to consider what’s next on your journey, and ask yourself these questions:
Do I want to teach?
In what capacity?
If you plan to teach, your next step should be to think outside the four walls of the yoga studio, not only because yoga teacher supply far outstrips demand, but also because there are thousands of people out there who want to practice yoga, but don’t have access to it. Thinking creatively about teaching can not only help you gain valuable experience, but it also has the potential to bring you great intrinsic reward.
More than 36 million Americans practice yoga—a welcome trend indeed—but with the skyrocketing number of practitioners comes an increase in the number of newly minted teachers, all competing for the same jobs. If you’ve tried to make a career out of teaching, you know about its challenges:
How many classes can you realistically teach per day?
Can you make enough money to pay your bills?
Do you feel ready to start leading retreats and workshops?
Will you need to supplement your income with another job?
Just because there are challenges, though, doesn’t mean you need to give up your dream of teaching. It just means you may need to think differently about how, where, and to whom you teach. This can be an amazing time in your life to step outside your comfort zone and work with a new population. Yoga teaching of any kind has the potential to make a huge impact on individuals, communities, and the world.
Here are six creative ways to gain some experience as a new yoga teacher:
1. Sub and Assist
Many studios hire directly from their new crop of teachers, so your home studio is the easiest place to start subbing and/or assisting. Put in the time, continue learning, ask for feedback from your mentors, and you’ll be rewarded. Also, don’t be afraid to open yourself up to other studios. If you want to teach somewhere, practice there first to get a sense of whether it’s the right environment for you, then get to know the other teachers, and finally show that you’re interested in that studio.
2. Teach at Work
If you didn’t quit your day job, this is another ideal place to bolster your teaching resume. Businesses around the world have started investing in employee well-being, not just to boost their bottom lines, but also because it’s the right thing to do. This is a win-win. It’s good for you (you’re getting paid to teach during your regular hours), and it’s good for your co-workers. Yoga in the workplace can boost morale, bring a greater sense of peace and calm into the day, and build camaraderie among co-workers.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
If you became a yoga teacher to make a difference in peoples’ lives and in your community, consider volunteering your time. Your home yoga studio may know about volunteer teaching opportunities, but if they don’t, find one on your own. Offer to teach a class at a senior center, hospital, hospice center, or anywhere else that could use a little love and light. Consider special populations whom you don’t typically associate with yoga, but who might just need it the most, like the military or law enforcement. If you do plan to teach to a special population, make sure you have the training you need. There are countless trainings out there dedicated to teaching prisoners, first responders, people with cancer, and more.
4. Make a Trade
Imagine you’re a yoga teacher and your pal is an artisan chocolate maker—that’s a match made in heaven! She wants what you have, and you definitely want a piece of what she’s churning out. So, make a trade. Just make sure to do your best to make the trade equal. Even if you’re trading with a friend (maybe especially if you’re trading with a friend), be clear about time and expectations to prevent your relationship from getting sticky.
5. Start Your Own Donation-Based Class
If you’re having a hard time finding teaching jobs at studios or elsewhere, start your own class. Donation-only classes can earn you more money than you’d make teaching at a studio, and you have the flexibility of holding the class when you want, how you want, and where you want. Promote your class on social media and post flyers in your community. If you don’t live somewhere where holding your class at a beach or park is possible, explore indoor options like churches and community centers.
6. Approach Alternative Spaces
There are many places adding yoga to their wellness repertoires:
Teaching in these spaces is an ideal way to get some experience with diverse populations to see what sticks. Eventually you’ll find your match, whether it’s teaching to seniors, stressed out office workers, or students. Finding your niche can be extremely rewarding, both in terms of service and helping you better define your yoga teaching career path.
One of the most important things you can do as a yoga teacher is to commit to learning, even if you only plan to volunteer-teach. A 200-hour yoga teacher training just scratches the surface of the practice of teaching yoga. Next steps include:
Finding a mentor
Enrolling in specialized trainings
The more you do something, the better at it you’re going to get. You owe it to yourself and your students to learn and grow right along with them.