Getting your first “real” job as a yoga teacher can be a thrill. After working hard to attain your teacher training certification, you may be excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. But getting your foot in the door is sometimes the biggest challenge.
Earning your first job requires confidence, persistence, research, and patience. As you are poised to put yourself out there, here are a few tips from some experts (including the Notorious RBG) on how to actually land your first yoga teacher gig.
1. Teach. And then teach some more.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” —Will Durant
I always tell my trainees: the key to being good at anything is to practice doing it. If we practice being angry or vindictive, we will probably get pretty good at that. Alternatively, if we practice being generous and open-hearted, we will start to build up that skill instead. Teaching yoga is like any other skill, you get better by doing more of it. But how do you start teaching? And to whom?
It doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. Start by telling everyone you know that you are now a certified yoga teacher—post it on your social media, tell friends and coworkers. Those who are rooting for you will be thrilled. Once you have a buzz going, start offering regular yoga classes to anyone who will come. You can offer sliding scale pricing so you are not excluding those who may be limited by budget, but are still compensated for your time.
Consistency is key when you start building up a student base. So, whether it is monthly or weekly, be sure you set a recurring time where students can count on you to be there. Remember, the more you teach, the better you get, and the faster you will become the teacher you are destined to be.
2. Get on a sub list
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” —Mark Twain
Most yoga teachers get their start by getting on a sub list at their favorite studio. A good place to start is by talking to the studio where you completed your training. Typically, yoga studios like to hire their own graduates; it highlights the success and quality of their trainees and helps to promote their training to other interested students. Also, if you frequent this studio, the student base likely knows who you are and will feel more comfortable having you as a teacher.
If your schedule is flexible, it is almost guaranteed you will have opportunities to sub and teach, because all studios need subs in the event of vacations, emergencies, and illness. One very important note: when you are the sub, never apologize to the students for not being the regularly scheduled teacher or for your lack of extensive experience. You bring your own energy and magic to the practice, so let them see that. Remember that students are just grateful to have an instructor and a safe space to practice. As long as you create that space, the rest is simply showing up and teaching from your heart.
3. Use your social media presence
“If I had any talent in the world, I would be a great diva.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Studio owners who consider hiring you will likely look up your social media accounts—both to get a better idea of who you are, and also to see how you may be able to attract new students into their community. Despite the tongue-and-cheek proclamation from our favorite legal diva quoted above, you don’t actually need to be a social media rockstar. However, it is important that you have some sort of online presence, so you are not a total enigma to those considering hiring or taking classes from you. Having creative and helpful online content can be a great way to highlight your personality and teaching style to help you stand out in the hiring process.
See also: Advice for Social Media Success
4. Create a formal resume, business cards, and a website
“Your profession is only as noble as your attitude and intent towards it.” –Jonas Caino
As a yoga teacher, you may have the benefit of wearing comfy clothes to work, but remember you are applying for a job. And especially if you do not yet have a relationship with management, you could be easily forgotten if you show up ill-prepared or unprofessional. Approach your application for a teaching position like any other job—with formality and composure.
Email your resume to the relevant person. Follow up with an in-person visit to the studio when you know management will be there; have your resume and business card in hand. Direct them to your website and let them know about any specific training you may have. You may also want to offer to teach an audition class or participate in formal interviews. Be patient and persistent, and always ask about the possibility of getting on the sub list!
5. Take continuing education
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” —Benjamin Franklin
All professionals who undergo licensing or certification require continuing education to maintain their professional standing. Teaching yoga is no exception. Graduating from a yoga teacher training is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to yoga knowledge and practice. In fact, I would argue that there is no such thing as a yoga expert; we are, and will continue to be, students of yoga throughout our lifetimes. There is so much to learn about and within the 8 limbs of yoga, and the learning is its own labor of love.
When we continue our education we practice jnana yoga—the yoga path of knowledge, whether it be the physical, philosophical, or spiritual aspects of yoga. Continuing to take workshops and trainings will not only keep you relevant, but will also keep you engaged in your practice and development as a teacher. Additionally, taking advanced courses are great networking opportunities for making connections for future teaching and collaboration opportunities.
6. Enjoy the ride
“Success comes from doing what you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, how can it be called success?” —David Maister
You want to be a good teacher, and you will be, so try not to stress. Don’t forget to find joy in each moment of connection with your students and your own unique practice. When you dig deep for your voice, and your teaching is heartfelt, your students will undoubtedly connect to that. Be sure to notice the students who gravitate toward you. Ask them what they enjoy about your teaching style and develop your skills based on their feedback. These interactions help you to connect with students on a deeper level and they will appreciate it. This knowledge and bonding will bring more joy to your practice and keep you engaged in your teaching.