I’ve started every piece in the last three weeks with those words, and now I can definitively say that yes, it was certainly challenging and yes, the challenge was worth it.
Some parts I fund easier than others, some subjects flowed and some were a bit sticky. But overall = a great way to kick off the year. If any of you undertook something similar in Feb then let me know! Otherwise, there will be a fair few more think-pieces and treatises to come in the first few months of this year.
How to make your passion your profession as a full-time yoga teacher?
From one yoga teacher to another, let’s sit down and be honest for a moment.
Starting we’ve probably all had those moments where we looked at a teacher who was teaching full-time and thought with disbelief, and maybe even a tiny bit of jealousy, “How does s/he do it?!”
Believe me, we’ve all been there. And you better believe it too when I say that we can all get to where we want to be – in this case, rocking the yoga pants all day every day and teaching passionately as a full gig.
We’re all from different walks of life and at different stages so for some of us, transitioning to full-time teaching might be hard while for others, the jump may come with a little bit more of a safety net. Regardless of your situation, if you’re reading this you’ve probably thought about the idea at least once – and that’s truly the first step to making it happen.
1. Believe it can happen.
Full-time teaching can only happen for us if we believe it can happen – and this is not just some energetic mumbo jumbo. How will you muster up the energy and bravery needed to take this step if deep inside, you don’t think it’s possible?
Take an hour, a day, a weekend to sit and be quiet. Ponder on this: do you at all adhere to beliefs like, “I can’t do it,” “It works for others but not for me,” or, “I’ll be broke!”
If you do, that’s alright. Know these beliefs are natural and just like we tell our students, the more you are aware of them the better. Listen to the same advice you give when you teach: thoughts are just thoughts and not ultimate truths. We can rise above our thoughts so that they don’t define us. By recognizing these beliefs as thoughts that can pass by, we can begin to remove our focus on them and see what needs to be done.
After realizing any conflicting beliefs you might have, a constructive idea would be to feed yourself the good. As yoga teachers, we’re in the privileged position of having many tools by which we can clear our minds, boost our physical energy, up to our positivity, and even manifest the future. Choose what works for you.
Actions you can take? Meditation, vision boards, personal manifestation rituals, daily mantras, yoga!
2. Before you leap, create your safety net.
John Burroughs said, “Leap and the net will appear.” True as that may be, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup safety net of your own making.
This safety net is made up of things that will make us feel secure enough to try transitioning and more importantly, secure enough to be able to teach without worries festering at the backs of our minds. What are the things that need to be in place for you to be able to teach without much anxiety, completely present to the people in front of you? In other words, what do you need to give yourself before you serve others?”
Stated more specifically, questions that could help you know what your safety net looks like are:
- What kind of savings do I need to have so that I’m not worrying about money while I’m teaching?
- How many teaching gigs do I need to book to be able to feel secure in my day to day living?
- What support do I need to ask from friends and family so that I don’t feel so alone, even as I stand solo on that teacher’s mat?
- What other things should I know about finances and financial health before becoming a full-time instructor?
- What insurance plans can I get as a freelance full-time instructor?
You can start with these questions and weave your safety net accordingly.
3. Think like a creative entrepreneur.
By now you can probably tell that the process of transitioning to full-time teaching involves a lot of soul searching and deep thought. In this part of the process, we think about what we do in all its glorious tiny details – and like it or not, we think about it as if we were a business.
Across the board, all kinds of businesses truly begin with asking the question, What do people need that only I can give to them?
Now, however you may feel about that question, the truth is that out in the world, we are service providers and it’s the uniqueness of our service that will draw people to us. Here’s another way to think about it – just like when we were starting our practice and were amazed to realize that we found the exact teacher we needed at the time, students are drawn to the teachers whose style, philosophies, and demeanor they resonate with the most. So if you’re going to transition to becoming a full-time teacher, it’s good to have intimate knowledge of these things.
What kind of teaching style feels most right for you? What are the things you feel strongly about sharing in a class, verbally or energetically? What kind of person are you on and off the mat and how can you use these traits to serve others? How can your unique life history influence how you serve others like you?
The good news is that answering these questions means doing the fun part: teaching! Before teaching to earn, teach until you know yourself.
Other good questions to ask business-wise are:
- What’s your specialty? (examples: public classes, private classes, corporate yoga, retreats)
- What are the going rates for different kinds of classes?
- What other services can I possibly include aside from yoga (examples: meditation, sound healing, creative art therapy, coaching, essential oils aromatherapy, guided tours of a place, asana labs)
4. What are you willing to give to this dream?
Surprise! Another question and this is a big one.
How much are you willing to give to make the dream of full-time teaching come true?
Off the top of my head, here are just some of the things that your dream may ask of you to invest:
- Time: Time you could otherwise spend earning money in a different job, you might be spending building your business. In the beginning, you may even spend more time working and teaching than you initially thought you would.
- Money: Aside from the money you could have been earning working another job, you may have to spend money getting to classes, marketing, attending events to meet people, etc.
- Contacts: As you look for places to grow and people to teach, you may have to use some of your social capital to ask people if their company needs a yoga teacher, to ask for a friend to connect you to a studio, to ask friends and family to try yoga just so you can practice teaching more, etc.
- Energy: For a while, as you build up your class schedule and your clientele, you may have to teach classes for free, or teach classes that are far away from you. How much energy can you give to doing this kind of work?
Do the math: What does your transition need you to give, what do you have, what can you give, what will be left, what can you expect as a return on your investment. If you think yoga teachers don’t need to do any kind of accounting for things, try doing the math here. The good thing is, it may be “accounting” but it’s for something that we love.
5. Seek but don’t force.
As tips go, this last one may seem super vague but for us here at Yoginomics, but it’s the one tip that can seal all your efforts together.
Just like the first step we proposed, this one involves sitting and being quiet. Specifically, add this to the mix: watch your energy.
What kind of energy are you bringing into the effort of transitioning to full-time teaching? Is it aggressive, this-has-to-happen energy? Is it a burn-the-candle-at-both-ends, I-have-to-sacrifice-everything kind of energy? Is it a fearful one?
Can it be hopeful energy – one that seeks but doesn’t force? Can it be a flowing energy wherein, like a plant, you constantly feel yourself receiving what you need even if you can’t see it?
Universally, as teachers, we can all agree that the second set of energies is better for us overall. Though we may want to become full-time teachers, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. It quite possibly can be a long journey and, if we come into it with aggression, we can teach burn out before we even get there.
We simply practice knowing that all is coming
From afar, when we look at those superstar full-time teachers in our community, it may look like they just leaped and started flying like eagles. More often than not though their transition was probably a long time in the making too.
It’s an exciting journey and if you’re taking it, we hope this helped you. Share with us your stories of transitioning to teaching and let’s spread the light together.
And if you still have doubts and aren’t sure? Get in touch, like coaching and cheerleading people through this transition is exactly what we do!