Dear Lauren Ann,
When I first started teaching yoga, I was resistant to learning the business aspect of my teaching—and I made some really bad business decisions. It did not serve my teaching. I strongly recommend that yoga teachers learn some business skills in order to survive in this industry.
It is your job to get educated so you don’t get ripped off in life. Take the time to do this, or you’ll learn through the school of hard knocks, which is brutal.
I suggest you take a yoga business course. Look online or research ads in yoga magazines.
To know what to charge, check out your local market. See what each type of venue charges for its classes. Talk with other yoga teachers about what they charge for private lessons. Each market in the country is different, and teachers of differing levels of experience are paid differently.
Some studios and gyms pay a flat rate per class no matter how many students show up ; that can range from $25 to $75 per class. Others pay a set amount for a certain number of students (for example, $15 for 10 students) and then pay an additional amount per head over that base amount (for example, $2 for each student beyond the first 10). Popular teachers may get a per-head fee (say $4), so the payment depends on how many people attend their classes. In San Francisco, for example, a very popular teacher might get $4 per person and have a room full of 100 people. (Obviously this would be someone with years of experience and a huge student base.)
As for accepting the various offers, interview each place and choose the one you like best and that has the best offer. Remember that the offer may not be strictly financial. Clubs and studios may also offer insurance, promotion and advertising of your classes, use of rooms for your own practice or to teach privately, or free space (or a discounted price) for your workshops. When you go in, be sure to have a list of very specific questions about benefits and payments.
For private classes, know that you will be the one quoting your class rate. Therefore you must be comfortable and confident in asking for your chosen amount. Private classes can range from $50 to $200 apiece. If quoting $100 makes you cringe, then come to a number that you feel good about. And once you’ve done that, you’ll need to compare that rate to what your market will pay. As you get more educated in teaching and take more teacher training courses, you’ll need to raise your rates. The beginning of the year is a good time to do this.
Regardless of your decision about seeking out a course or doing business, you will have lessons to learn. Be willing to learn from the education the world brings you, and from the mistakes you make. Nothing is irrevocable—just make your mistakes, learn from them, and move on.