Sunday was my last official day of yoga teacher training. It is hard to believe I started this process back in January and now it is almost over. In a few more weeks I will take my final exam and become a registered yoga teacher!
The last class focused on the business of yoga and how to market yourself as a yoga teacher. We learned a lot of useful information about what it is like to teach yoga in various types of environments, including yoga studios, community centers, social services organizations, corporate settings and even private lessons.
Finding work in the yoga world will be much different than the type of job hunting I am familiar with. The majority of jobs in yoga are obtained through networking connections and word of mouth. It is rare that these types of jobs are posted on a website. If you are interested in a particular studio, the best thing to do is start taking classes there and introduce yourself to the owner.
Many yoga teachers do not even have a formal resume. Our instructors recommended that we create a short bio that summarizes our training and the styles of yoga that we would like to teach. Once we get more teaching experience we could start to put together a resume.
The biggest difference in being a yoga teacher is that you are not considered an employee of any of the places where you work. The majority of yoga teachers are independent contractors. Being an independent contractor brings up a whole bunch of new issues to consider, such as liability insurance and waivers for students taking your classes.
We also talked about creating a limited liability corporation (LLC) for teaching yoga instead of teaching it under your own name. Creating an LLC will protect your personal assets if anyone ever sues you for something that happened in one of your classes.
And then there are the taxes. When you have one job at one location, your taxes are pretty easy. But as a yoga teacher, I will be working at multiple locations. And each place will only send me a W-9 if I make over $600 with them during the year. Either way, I will have to keep track of my own income at each location so I can report it to the IRS. And I will have to track things like mileage and other expenses so I can deduct them from my taxes.
While I appreciate all of the good advice that was provided, I walked away from class feeling a little overwhelmed. Of course, I am capable of doing all of the things my instructors suggested. But the whole discussion reminded me of something that I had not really considered. Teaching yoga is going to be my job. Its not a casual hobby anymore.
And yoga itself is a business. As a yoga student it is easy to forget that simple fact, amidst the calming music, soft lighting and positive energy of a studio environment. But for the yoga teacher and the studio owner, the students and the classes represent their livelihood.
This week I went to Ohio to visit my sister. I love to go to Ohio because everything is always relaxed and peaceful down there. On my way home I decided to stop for lunch at this little grocery store and cafe called the Mustard Seed. It is an organic market with a very earthy vibe to it. I love to shop there with my sister. Everything is so simple and healthy.
Normally when I eat at a restaurant I am with other people so I am absorbed in our conversation. But this time I was on my own. As I sat in the cafe overlooking the grocery store below, I had time to really observe what was going on around me. The owner was in the office interviewing a new chef and the waiter was probably in the back counting his tips. There were stock people on the floor and cashiers ringing up all of the organic groceries and putting them in bags.
I looked down at my whole grain bread basket and my chicken salad over a bed of field greens, so carefully laid out on the rectangular white plate in front of me. To me, having lunch at this little cafe was a calm and relaxing experience, but it was also someone else's livelihood.
In fact, every experience I have had and every product I have purchased that has brought me joy has also been someone else's source of income.
Teaching yoga is no different than any other service or product. Except this time I am the person who delivers the service, as opposed to the person receiving it. And I want to provide a peaceful, relaxing and fulfilling experience to my students.
At the end of the day, yoga is a business. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. It is a business of healing and of wellness. It is a business of grounding and reflection. It is a business of improving the self and being of service to the world around us.
Going through this process reminds me of a quote: Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.
I hope that is true for me someday and that I love teaching yoga as much as my students love taking my classes.