Friday, 26 April 2013


Shortly after graduating from YTT, the reality of trying to find a job as a yoga teacher descends overhead like a dark cloud of pessimism.  Without experience and references, it’s unlikely you’ll be employed as a teacher with a studio, particularly if you live in a city where there is no shortage of yoga teachers (ie Vancouver).  Of my fellow graduates, only a handful started teaching regularly fairly soon after completing training. 

I’ve been fairly lucky to find a studio position early on in my career as a yoga teacher but it was thanks largely to knowing the right people and having forked out the cash to build experience in private hire spaces.  As I’m currently working a fine balancing act of dipping my toes into both studio and private hire teaching, I can assure you there is a very big difference.  I think it depends greatly on your personality and your working style, but one or the other certainly seems to suite certain teachers and both have their pros and cons. 

STUDIO TEACHING
Pros

Guaranteed pay.

It doesn’t matter how many students show up, you will get paid.  Studios vary depending on whether they pay you by the hour, or per student, but in my experience, largely you will be paid a by-the-hour rate.  It’s certainly your responsibility as a teacher to provide a good class and attract returning students, but ultimately it’s up to the studio to advertise the business and build student numbers. 

No responsibility! 

Well, mostly.  It’s a wonderful thing to be free of concerns regarding rent/lease, cleaning, buying props, paying for building/company insurance, etc, etc.  As a studio employee, it is generally just your responsibility to ensure that the studio is relatively tidy and it is locked if you’re the last one out. 

Sick or on holiday?  Covered.

If you’re sick or on holiday, the studio will replace you.  Ideally you need to give the studio as much notice as usual, but most yoga teachers are used to being on call to cover their colleagues. 

Cons

Pay is usually fixed and can be low

Your wage is going to vary wildly depending on where you teach, but if you live in a major city, you’re not going to be earning as much as many other by-the-hour health/fitness professionals. Generally, you'll only be paid for the length of the class, not the time you need to be there before class and after. The studio I work for pays me a rate that some yoga teachers I know consider to be low, but ultimately I’m guaranteed a wage and superannuation benefits so I refuse to turn my nose up at it. 

You may be restricted in your teaching style

I was once told that a particular chain of yoga studios in the US has banned its teachers from leading their students into Pigeon because of the risk of knee injury.  I’m not going to argue for or against decisions such as these, but it’s just an example of how teachers may be restricted in their teaching style.  Some studios have set class plans, restrictions regarding poses, rules about candles and incense, set music play-lists, uniform, etc, etc.  I often find it difficult to keep to the carefully crafted schedule of a studio and find myself getting in trouble with the teacher after me when I teach a couple of minutes past the set hour.  You just need to remember that you’re not the boss, and a studio expects you to follow their rules and their business image. 

PRIVATE HIRE TEACHING

Pros

You are your own boss.
 
Every penny you earn from teaching, you get to keep.  You can decide on your teaching times, class plans, attire, music, etc.  You can do whatever you like (within reason of course!) and need answer to no one but your students.

It can be a lucrative way to teach
When you build a good client base of students who are paying cash or buying sessions in bulk, you can earn very good money for a class.  One of my first jobs teaching in Perth was subbing for a private hire class and I was delighted to discover how much money was being placed in my hand for just an hour’s work. 

Cons

Initial losses can be a hurdle

Hiring my own space and teaching classes has allowed to gain a lot of experience and gave me kudos to attract the interest of a studio owner and other businesses, but so far, I haven’t broken even.  Hiring the space and advertising can cost more than you’re earning when you start off and patience as you build a clientele is a must. 

If you’re sick, you’re in trouble

Of course you can ask another teacher to cover for you but there’s a chance you may have to cancel a class if you come down with something unexpectedly.  This isn’t very good for business and the last thing you want is students arriving at the studio to find that you’re not there. 

Hiring a space can be a bitch

I’m very fortunate that I hire a space where the owner is very relaxed and makes few demands.  This is not always the case.  Local council halls and private spaces are all options but beware the necessity of lengthy paperwork and contracts, minimum hire terms, arguments about session times, etc.  They can cost a pretty penny as well. 

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