How to Earn A Living as A Yoga Teacher

“My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people; those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to be in the first group; there is much less competition.”-Indira Gandhi

The other night, while having a marketing meeting for a new Haunted House downtown some friends of mine are building, I took advantage of a lull in conversation to continue freaking out about my future. One of my friends (again, she’s happily employed AND lives alone, so who is she to talk BUT) kindly assured me, “It’s great that you’re becoming a yoga teacher. No one is at all worried except you.”

Of course, I’m not actually worried about it, either, because I know this is something I’ve dreamed about doing for years. But sometimes, helplessly, I slip into that career-driven mentality and when I say out loud, “I’m doing a yoga teacher training” I hear a voice in my head that says, “you’re unemployed and it’s pretty pathetic that you never even bothered to take the LSAT.” Then, yesterday, I read this article on titled, Can you earn a living as a yoga teacher? The answer is: not very easily.

For a split second after reading this article, I felt more concerned. But as I’ve plunged into the philosophy reading required for the training, I have slowly started to realize: I can’t earn a living without becoming a yoga teacher.

Contrary to popular belief, yoga, unlike true Buddhism, does not require, or even suggest that you give up ambition. Entering into a very deep yoga practice (which is essentially what a teacher training is) is a way to get clearer perspective on your path. Whether you are employed or not, entering into a healthy relationship with your desires, ambitions and abilities is necessary for progress. For some people progress is measured in whether or not they make vice-president, and for others progress is measure in how far they go in the study of yoga.

But even people who seek to achieve great heights in yoga are constantly struggling with the ego and ambition. This can lead to injuries, or a sloppy practice, if you push through an “edge” in your practice when you should be pausing, says Joel Kramer. That philosophy applies to all aspects of life, including your career. And pause is necessary, because “the more slowly and carefully you treat your early edges, the deeper your final edge will be.”

Now, Kramer confirms that ambition is an inevitable fact of life and mind, and even trying to eliminate it is an ambition itself. But we can avoid its ill effects if we pay more attention to our behavior and actions as we reach for our goals, rather than whether we have achieved perfection.

Unfortunately, in real life, our bosses want to know whether or not we’ve completed a task, and how well we’ve done it. We compete with our peers, our co-workers, and ourselves and if we don’t succeed greatly, there are tangible repercussions. However, in a yoga practice, you can’t really create the full manifestation of a pose without being in tune to those “early edges.” I think that same idea applies to our careers: awareness of obstacles and behaviors will lead us to fuller success later.

At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself, for as long as I’m unemployed.


4 thoughts on “How to Earn A Living as A Yoga Teacher

  1. Wow. Excellent post with a good deal of wisdom. You know that quote from Kramer about pause being necessary? I'm going to use that in a positive way to stop beating myself up for having not practiced yoga for nearly a year, and to instead think of it as an inexplicable necessary pause. Thanks.

    The haunted house sounds like fun. In Silverton there is a performing arts center and we noticed the other night they have a sandwich board out front announcing “Thriller” workshops in Oct. Evidently, non-students can take these workshops and dance Thriller in the streets of Silverton on Halloween with the dance classes. Um, I am so wanting to give this a try!

  2. perfect reasoning, perfect thoughts.

    Yay for yoga teacher training!! 🙂

    I always said; would you rather spend 35 years working a job that you HATED by made money, or 35 years working a job that you LOVED and made less?

    I vote for number deux 🙂

  3. whats up internet writer buddy i once met. i think to make money in yoga, you need to be a bad ass, strong willed type, that people look at as a mother or authority type figure they can rely on.


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