6 tips for new yoga teachers
So, you've earned your "Registered Yoga Teacher" credentials. Congratulations! If your goal following yoga teacher training was to begin teaching classes, you may now be wondering where to begin. As a yoga studio owner and instructor myself, here are a six tips to help you set the foundation for your success:
1. It's a business. I get it: many yoga instructors insist that it's not about the money, but about "doing what I love" and "making a difference" and "spreading bliss", or what have you. Bottom line, no matter if you're casually teaching classes or legitimately want to make your teaching a bigger part of your life, it's important that you treat it as a business. Like any business, your brand and reputation are important; it's also important to set goals and expectations for your self. You invested a lot of time and dollars into completing your training. Know what you're worth. When I first started out, I immediately formed an sole proprietor LLC. Check into resources regarding business start-up in your state or talk to a qualified professional to determine which option is best for you. Many teachers operate as sole proprietors. You'll also find that many teaching gigs consider you an independent consultant versus an employee; again, understand what you're looking for.
2. Get insurance. Yup, do it. Many studios and businesses require that you show proof of insurance before you're able to teach. It's important to have --whether you're teaching group classes at the local community center or offering private, 1:1 sessions. Protect yourself. As they say, it's better to be covered than find yourself in a sticky situation if someone were to come after you (you never know!).
3. Be reliable. I can't stress this enough. As a studio owner, you wouldn't believe how many times I've run into teachers who are just plain unreliable. It gives yoga teachers the label of being "flighty", trust me. If you say you're going to do something, follow through. Don't show up five minutes before class starts (or 10 minutes after! Trust me, it's happend!). This leads me to tip number four.
4. Don't over commit. Hey, I realize there are a lot of Vatas out there...but, please, tame that Vata energy when it comes to your commitments. This is so important! I've had teachers who get so excited about teaching that they want to add on additional classes and soon realize that they're unable to manage it all. Look at your commitments, be they additional training, family, full-time employment, etc. and be realistic about what you're able to take on. As a studio owner, I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to have to explain to clients that the class they so love is now off the schedule after only a couple weeks. I'm a business owner too and care about my clients and the reputation of my business. So really think hard about what's realistic for you.
5. It takes work. Here's another one that gets me: just because you show up, doesn't mean others will. In your first weeks as a teacher or in a new location, please don't be disheartened if no one shows up to your class or your numbers are less than you envisioned. It may take time to build numbers in your class or to create a following of students. When you're just starting out, smaller numbers can be a true blessing as you hone in on your skills and grow more confident as a teacher.
Furthermore, it's important to understand that it will take time to build your personal brand and effectively manage your "business" as a yoga teacher. You'll find what works best for you in terms of organization and approach.
6. Have a mentor. It is always helpful to have someone you can talk to as you navigate into this new realm. Your mentor may be your teacher or a fellow teacher you respect. There are also teacher coaches who can be helpful resources and specialize in helping teachers build their personal brand and business. If interested in a free consultation with a coach, please contact us.
Natascha Bohmann, 200-RYT, MBA, is the owner of Udana Yoga and Wellness, a studio located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. She has been teaching yoga since 2009 and has more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and management. She offers coaching services to yoga teachers, helping with personal brand development and business growth.