Top 3 Struggles Yoga Teachers Face + How to Turn Them into Successes
Yoga is a beautiful thing, but teaching yoga isn’t all pranayama and savasana. Making a living as a yoga teacher is a struggle.
According to the 2016 Yoga in America Study released by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, only 29% of yoga teachers report yoga as their full-time job. This may sound like a very low number, but when you consider all the struggles yoga teachers face, it’s surprising this number isn’t any lower.
These are the top 3 struggles yoga teachers face, plus tips on how to turn these struggles into personal and professional successes:
Struggle #1. Never knowing how many students will attend your class
We all want students. That’s what it’s all about. There’s nothing more disheartening than teaching a class with only 3 or 4 students, especially if you’re getting paid a fee per student.
Sometimes you’ll have more students and other times you will have less. Beating your head against your yoga mat trying to figure out the patterns can be frustrating.
Resolution: Like all service-based and retail businesses, there are variables that influence customer flow.
Time: Some class times will always have more students than others, but this isn’t just based on the time of day. It’s also based on the day of the week. A 5pm class on Tuesday may have a completely different number of students than 5pm on Thursday.
Pro Tip: Survey your students, and find out what times work best for the majority.
Family time: If you teach in a suburban area, certain time slots like Saturday afternoons may be a difficult time to fill as parents are going to their kids’ sporting events, taking them to birthday parties, etc.
Pro Tip: Consider offering a “Mommy and Me” yoga class on the weekends. Moms will be able to get their OM time without feeling guilty about not spending time with their children.
Community Events: Your class times will also be influenced by community events. Is there a festival going on? Is there a special event anywhere in town? Any event in town – especially the free ones – can keep students from coming to your class.
Pro Tip: Keep a copy of the community calendar for your town (or neighborhood if you’re in a big city), so you can plan around the community events that will keep your students from showing up.
Struggle #2. Not knowing how to market your classes
Marketing is the bane of existence for most yoga teachers, and after all, why shouldn’t it be? If you wanted to be in marketing, you wouldn’t be a yoga teacher!
In reality, if you are a yoga professional, you are in the marketing business whether you like it or not. The yoga industry is incredibly saturated. According to the 2016 Yoga in America Study, there are two yoga teacher trainees for every yoga teacher. As the trainees start to graduate, the yoga industry will become even more saturated.
If you want to stand out among all the other yoga teachers, you need to start marketing yourself and your classes. It may sound scary and overwhelming, but self-marketing isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Here are three main areas of focus to market your yoga business:
Marketing to your existing students: If you can create raving, loyal fans out of your current students, you will attract more students. When students become loyal, they start bringing their friends to your business.
Pro Tip: Go above and beyond for your current students. What can you do to make your current students feel special and loved? Consider sending a handwritten thank you note or a box of really good tea to your students. It doesn’t have to be elaborate – just enough to show them they are appreciated.
Growing your list: Usually “growing your list” means your email list. In your case, it is important to grow both your email list and your client list. Whenever you get new students or private clients, they should be added to your email list. Your client list is the best asset you own.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have an email list, start one now! You can get started on MailChimp for free. If you have one, ask your clients if you can add them to your email list. Use your email list to talk about classes and programs, and also to give them valuable information. Adding value to your emails in the form of useful advice builds trust and loyalty with your followers.
Marketing your brand: Your brand is everything. Your brand encompasses your values, your authenticity, your visuals, the words you use, and the way you introduce and promote yourself. These are all elements of your brand that tell potential students whether or not you are the yoga teacher for them. The biggest difference between famous yoga teachers and everybody else is the famous ones have a cohesive ‘brand.’
Pro Tip: Dedicate time to go over your brand. Look at your images, your bio, your website. Ask yourself, “If I were a new student, would I want to work with me?” Then ask yourself, “What can I do to polish my brand without breaking the bank?” This could mean creating new templates in Canva, rewriting your bio, or decluttering your homepage. No action is too small.
Struggle #3. Not having enough time for your own yoga practice
There is a completely different mindset required when teaching a yoga class instead of taking a class. The energy is different. The tone and dynamic are different. It’s one thing to show up for your own practice, and it’s another thing entirely to show up and guide students through theirs. Teaching yoga is not the same as practicing yoga.
With all the obligations required to maintain your yoga business (especially now that you have to learn marketing!), it’s hard to have the energy to maintain your personal yoga practice, but you really should.
Maintaining a regular personal practice is good for you to re-center, find your balance, and spend time focusing on your own needs. How frequently you practice also becomes apparent in the way you teach. When you’re practicing often and taking other teacher’s classes, you’ll maintain a wealth of inspiration and fresh ideas. When you don’t practice yourself, your teaching gets stale. When you make time for your own practice, you will be an even better teacher.
Resolution: Make time for your own yoga practice. Pencil it in just like you would a class you’re going to teach. Remember – when your dedication to your practice suffers, your teaching suffers too.
Learning how to manage these struggles can help you show up more fully, transform your yoga career, and serve more students. When you serve more authentically, you can help others grow, get healthier, and be empowered to take charge of their own lives, and that is what teaching yoga is all about!