The ultimate guide to becoming a Yoga Teacher

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As I look around, I see a world where people are constantly striving better themselves. Be it in the way they live, the way they eat, or even in the way they think. These are the people who want to change themselves for the better and are looking for ways to do so.

But what if there was just one way through which they could have a holistically positive impact on their entire life? It is possible with Yoga, and as a Yoga Teacher, this presents you with an incredible opportunity for success.

You may be wondering – Are there really that many people turning to Yoga that I can make a living out of becoming a Yoga Teacher?

To that, I say, today nearly 16 million adults practice Yoga in the in the USA. With more and more celebrities and other people in the spotlight championing for this ancient art, this number is only increasing.

Arguably brought into the public eye by the legendary band, the Beatles, Yoga has existed in the public consciousness for quite a few years. But lately, more and more people are realizing the true extent of the benefits of practicing it.

This means, as a Yoga Teacher, you already have an audience that knows what they want. And what they want is to get healthy – mind, body and soul. However, your success depends on setting yourself apart from the multitudes of other Yoga Teachers around. And here’s where I think I can help.

So keep reading.

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What does a Yoga Teacher do?

Before we get into what a Yoga Teacher does, I think it’s important to understand what Yoga really is. It is more than just postures and performing movements. It is about creating a union between body and mind to find balance, not just in terms of health, but in life overall.

In a world where we are constantly rushing from one thing to the next, Yoga provides an anchor around which you can find your peace of mind. It is not about creating something new, it is about opening up and connecting to who we already are and what we already have.

Every posture and breathing exercise come together harmoniously to help individuals develop both mental and physical flexibility, strength and balance. This means, a Yoga Teacher’s job isn’t just to show their students the right way to do a particular, but also to help them understand the deeper impact of each on their overall well-being.

As a Yoga Teacher, it is your job to evaluate each student and understand the areas where Yoga can help them better themselves. And because no two students are the same, you need to create courses that are adaptable to the different types of students you will teach.

How can you become a Yoga Teacher

So you’re thinking about becoming a Yoga Teacher. That’s great! But where do you start?

There are many Yoga institutes across the world, and in the United States, that will provide you with the training necessary to start your own Yoga practice. But there is a lot more to running a successful practice than just getting certified.

There are a lot of things to consider before you embark on this wonderful and rewarding journey. I suggest you ask yourself this one important question before you pull out your credit card and pay for a course that will most probably change your life, and the lives of many others.

Why do you want to be a Yoga Teacher?

Ask yourself – Why do I want to teach? What do I hope to share with my students that will broaden my horizons as well as theirs?

Reflect on your Yoga journey so far to get a better understanding of who you are as a Yoga practitioner and get a better understanding of what you can offer.

Once you’ve done this, the next steps are relatively easier.

1. Research is key

When you start looking for Yoga Teacher training programs, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available out there. To help make it easier, I suggest breaking it down into 3 key aspects – style, accreditation, and convenience.

• Style: Today, there are more schools of Yoga than you can count. But just because Yoga Teachers have found success in one space doesn’t mean you will too. Find a style that resonates with you, and then look for training courses or schools that will offer that style.

• Accreditation: In the United States, Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association catering to the yoga community but there are many others from which you can choose. A course generally tends to require 100 to 500 hours and may take up to two years.

• Convenience: Not everyone can make a trip to India to train as a Yoga Teacher. Choose a training program that fits your lifestyle because it will only help stay committed to your teacher training.

2. Find the right teacher

Over the course of your teacher training, you will spend a lot of time with your own teacher, so find one you can resonate with and relate to. Once you’ve narrowed your list of teacher down, attend each of their classes to get an idea of how they teach and make sure you ask a lot of questions.

You will know you’ve found a great teacher when you find someone who inspires you to find your inner strength and helps you develop your individual teaching voice.

3. Get some practice

Once you finish your teacher training, you will be raring to go and excited to teach. But you may find students hard to come by with zero experience.

There are many ways to get experience so you can build trust with prospective students. These include offering free classes to friends and family, volunteering at fitness events, and even helping out at fitness studios near you.

This won’t just legitimize your practice in the eyes of prospective students, but will also help you mold and streamline your own courses and offerings.

4. Take a stock of your investment

If you’re a working professional looking to transition into becoming a Yoga Teacher full-time, I’m sure you have a lot of fears. But if you plan it right, it can be rewarding to take the leap and develop yourself personally and professionally.

Even after getting certified, becoming a full-time Yoga Teacher involves costs of which you need to be well aware. This is especially true if you aim to start your own studio. From rent and insurance to marketing and promotion, you need to account for the costs you will incur, and figure out how you’re going to finance your dream of becoming a Yoga Teacher.

5. Start Selling

As a Yoga Teacher, you are your own walking-talking advertisement. So make sure you look the part and don’t be ashamed of talking yourself up to everyone you meet.
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to offer, set up a website. This will make you look professional and will also provide a place where people can get an idea of you as a trainer, and what you can add to their lives.

6. Be you

This last step is also the most important. When you get started, there will be successful Yoga Teachers that you look up to and want to emulate. That’s understandable. But you will find that this only takes you so far.
You need to follow your passion and creativity to find your own personal style. Because being you is what will set you apart from every other Yoga Teacher out there.

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What type of people hire a Yoga Teacher?

Time. No matter how we have of it, it never feels enough. Especially when we need to take some out for ourselves. These are the people who turn towards Yoga as a way to take refuge from a stressful day, with the added bonus of its positive effect on the body.

While many get into Yoga for the physical benefits, as they practice, they realize how much it extends to their overall well-being. Sooner rather than later, Yoga becomes more than just a habit – it becomes a way of life.

When you start teaching, you will find students who come to you assuming Yoga is about stretching and headstands. Some might even get put off when they realize there is a lot more to it.

But as you continue, you will surround yourself with students who genuinely believe in what you have to offer, and the positive impact it has on their overall well-being.

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How can you set yourself apart from other Yoga Teachers?

So you’ve started offering Yoga classes. But why should a student come to you rather than going to the hundreds and thousands of other teachers out there? The answer to this one question is what will guarantee you success as a Yoga Teacher.

To set yourself apart, you need to embrace you and everything that it encompasses. Create a voice and style is uniquely yours and turn yourself into a brand.

But the problem with creating a unique voice is that not everyone will like it. When you start offering classes with your own unique spin to it, you’ll notice that you’re losing students. And that seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Think about it. Who would you rather be – a generic Yoga Teacher that offers something for everyone, or someone who has a class of students who swear by what you offer and will rave about you to their friends?

So how do you bring out your unique style and create your own brand that will stand out? I can help.

• Tip 1: Stop trying to please everyone.

No matter how amazing you are, pleasing everyone is impossible. You need to accept that. Once you do, you liberate yourself from the obstacles you’ve set yourself and you can truly become you as a Yoga Teacher.

• Tip 2: Simple isn’t always perfect

When you start teaching, it is really easy to over-simply what you have to offer in order to attract a wider range of students. But this has the downside that you will alienate students who could have actually benefited from what you wanted to offer.

Stay true to who you are as a Yoga Teacher. Some students may find what you offer difficult, but that is the way they will get to where they want to be – by getting out of their comfort zone. As you do so, you will notice that the ones who complained initially are the same ones who will praise your classes the loudest.

• Tip 3: Have fun

Yoga isn’t like hitting the weights at the gym. It needs peace of mind that can only be inculcated if everyone, including you, is genuinely enjoying what’s happening in class. And this is yet another way you can add a little bit of you to the classes you offer.

If you like talking, talk to your students as they do various poses, guide them through it. Sprinkle a little bit of humor to put students at ease. Anything that can bring you closer to your students and connect with them.

Bring your unique talents to your Yoga classes and you will have a set of students who will your biggest supporters, and in turn, your biggest source of new students.


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Frequently asked questions about becoming a Yoga Teacher

• Question: How long do I need to practice Yoga before joining a training program?

Answer: There is no hard and fast rule that you need to have practiced yoga for a particular number of years before you embark on the journey to becoming a Yoga teacher. It needs to be just enough time for you to know what you want and how you can deepen your practice.

For some, this may be six months, for others, it may be decades. You are ready when you are, and you should dive in if you’re confident in what you want to offer to the rest of the world.

• Question: Do I need to be proficient in Yoga before I start my training?

Answer: For many, joining a training program is also a way to hone their own skills as well. A considerable portion of your training will involve identifying the existing scope of your abilities, and then developing those abilities further so you can achieve expertise in your chosen style of Yoga.

Question:  Should I go away on a retreat or train in a Yoga Studio near me?

Answer: This depends on what you want, as well and the time and finances you have available. While a retreat may give you the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the Yoga training experience, retreat-based teachers generally tend to have huge classes that may hamper the development of a student-teacher relationship.

At the same time, learning from a Yoga Studio near you might give you the opportunity to connect with the community and network around you, providing you with more avenues once you’re ready to start out on your own.

• Question: What costs should I be aware of before I start my training?

Answer: The costs involved differ from training to training. If you’re going for a retreat-based course, the costs can go pretty high. But even without the retreat, the cost of traveling, the lost earnings from being away from work and just the training fees themselves are all costs you will need to take into account.

The truth about being a Yoga Teacher

Being a Yoga Teacher could be the best job you could hope for. But there are a few things that might come as a surprise once you actually start teaching. Some of these may even be situations that might put you off the entire thing completely.

That’s why I’d like to tell you about a few things to prepare for before you get started so you can minimize the number of unexpected surprises that you may encounter on your journey as a Yoga Teacher.

1. Private classes are where the money is

When you start teaching, you may find it hard to fill up classes. Actually, even after you’ve been teaching for a while, paying rent and all the other expenses that go along with running a studio might be difficult.
That’s where private classes can make all the difference. The students get the benefit of one-on-one classes and more focused attention, while you get to charge more and budget your expenses accordingly.

2.     Your schedule is not yours

Becoming a Yoga Teacher does allow you to be your own boss as you can schedule classes as and when you want. But soon, you’ll realize that making money means you will need to take as many classes as you can.
This means you may end up waking up at 6:30AM to take one class, then head to a private session at 8:00AM and continue teaching till it’s time for lunch. Then it’s back to taking your evening classes and other private sessions, and before you realize it, you’re taking classes all day with no time for yourself.

And when you’re traveling a lot for private sessions, you become incredibly aware of how much the weather plays a part in the time you will end up spending driving to and fro, making rain your worst enemy.

3. It’s a popularity contest

When you get started, filling classes will be challenging. And the students who swear you changed their lives may randomly never show up again. It is enough to drive anyone crazy, but the important thing to remember is to not take it personally.
It’s very easy to go down the spiral of self-reflection, trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not. I suggest you focus on what you’re offering and keep at it. The ones who stick with you are the ones who will bring in their friends, their family, and this is what will help you grow your business.

4. You need a balance between business and spirituality.

Spirituality is an important facet of Yoga, and the more you teach as a business, the more you will feel that you’re losing your connection t the spiritual aspect of it. It is important to take time out for yourself, away from your classes, where you practice Yoga and get in touch with your inner self.
This will keep you centered and you will be able to give your students a lot more than just poses and breathing exercises – you will be able to give them the spiritual guidance needed to attain the peace of mind they are looking for.

5. You’ll be judged as a stereotype

Every profession comes with its own stereotypical preconceptions. Yours will be that you are enlightened, and hence you will be held to a higher standard than most people around you.
It is not necessarily bad that people see you as someone who is calm and wise, but living up to that standard may be harder than you think. How you deal with frustrations, how you communicate with your students, everything will be looked at through this lens and you should be ready for that.

If reading these truths makes you think becoming a Yoga Teacher is hard, let me tell you that it is. But if you’re up for a challenge, you will find that it is incredibly rewarding and a great way to mix business with something that can truly make a difference in people’s lives.

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