HAHAHA! Did you read that title? Sure, there are those exceptions out there of people who have built yoga empires and live very well, or richly, in the material sense. However, anyone who has ever tried to make a go at leaving their day job to make a living teaching yoga knows it ain’t easy!
Generally, “full time” yoga teachers can be seen schlepping giant bags of yoga mats and props from location to location, taking on classes anywhere that will give them a time slot and the chance to share what they love. They are often seen only wearing yoga attire to the point that if seen in non-yoga clothes they are unrecognizable to the untrained eye.
Yoga teachers who make yoga work their life’s work don’t usually do it for the money, they do it for love. But mixing love, or spiritual work with business is tough. It’s tough to set a price, it’s tough to market the self as a teacher, and it’s tough to find that niche that sets you apart from the rest. Another thing that’s tough, is balancing all of this with having a family, a day job, or just any kind of social life. And so many people say yoga is all about balance, and I don’t mean not yelling “TIMBER” as you fall over in Tree Pose. I mean that real sense of balance in one’s life that brings with it a feeling of peace and calm. Yoga teachers often find they have the least amount of it as they are running around trying to help others achieve it.
So why do we do it? Why do we teach yoga? Why do we break our bodies carrying 80 pounds of mats up two flights of stairs at three preschools a week? Or get up at dawn for that FREE yoga in the park class? Everyone’s answer will be different. Each teacher has a unique drive and experience in their work. Yet I will say a common thread I hear and see on the Kidding Around Yoga Teachers’ Forum and throughout my yoga community, is that it makes us feel “rich.” What we, as teachers, receive from being clear vessels to deliver messages to our students, to help them heal their bodies and minds, is worth more than any six-figure job out there.
Some of us teach only adults, some teach children. The blessings are the same. To watch the healing happen, to see how using the tools we give them changes a day or just a moment, is payment enough sometimes. Until the lights go out.
In all seriousness, it is very difficult to make a living teaching yoga; however, it is worth letting go of some of life’s luxuries to love what we do when we leave our home every day. I have always said I had no desire to live for my work. I wanted to work so I could live. Better yet, if I could live while doing my work I would be happiest. Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? I don’t believe they do, and I know many yoga teachers who would agree.
I am about to embark on a new journey in my life. I have not had active yoga teaching contracts for almost nine months. I have studied, written, and grown a child inside of me. I am trying to decide how much I am willing to take on again with regards to teaching, as survival and provision for two little mouths now are taking precedent. I have made some contacts and had some people contact me. Right now, I am missing the richness I felt when teaching my 12-15 classes a week. And I also know what blessings I have received are still rippling on out there in the world, so if I take a little time for more “balance” in my life, all will be well. I can return to that pool and fill my cup at any time. I can take my yoga anywhere, and that is part of what makes my life’s work and practice such a beautiful thing. It’s what makes me “rich.”