Business of Yoga

How Yoga Teachers Are Constrained By Non-Competes

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There may be a reason your favorite teacher is only teaching at your go-to studio—a non-compete agreement.

In a story for NPR, Andrea Hsu highlights the struggle yoga teachers face in dealing with restrictive non-compete agreements. A non-compete, signed at the start of employment, places restrictions on where and when an employee can work.

Some of things non-competes restrict for yoga teachers? The ability to teach at other studios and contact students. These agreements often remain in place for up to a year after a teacher leaves a studio.

Hsu says the recent push against these non-competes comes at a time when President Biden is working to end their prevalence. In an executive order issued on July 9, President Biden said in some industries, non-competes hinder the ability of workers to change jobs.

The conversation surrounding non-competes for yoga teachers follows the creation of the first yoga teachers’ union in June 2020. The push for increased diversity, benefits and protections for yoga teachers is forcing some studios and gyms to make changes to their employment structure. In 2019, CorePower Yoga faced a class action lawsuit from over 1,000 of its instructors who claimed CorePower paid them below minimum wage.

See also CorePower Yoga Teachers Make Another Attempt to Unionize

For yoga teachers, the ability to teach at more than one studio is not always a choice—but a financial necessity. Constrained by the class slots offered to them by studio owners, teachers may only teach two or three classes a week at a studio. Their profit? Around $30 per class.

As more teachers speak out against non-competes, studios may start changing their standards. Justine Cohen, the owner of Down Under School of Yoga, told NPR she recently scrapped her non-compete requirement, instead allowing instructors to choose their commitment level to the studio. Cohen told NPR instructors who commit to only teaching at Down Under School of Yoga may be paid more than those who teach at other studios.