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Teaching Yoga, the New Waiting Tables for the Non-Rich

in Business of Yoga, Recession Yoga, YD News

waiter-rene-brequet-with-tray-of-cocktails-as-he-skates-around-serving-patrons-at-the-grand-hotel-postersIt takes a lot of hobnobbing to build a business, something a corporate survivor is accustomed to doing, if not especially good at. So it’s really not surprising that so many former moneymakers are dropping office trou’ and sinking their teeth into teaching yoga, especially since a lot of these folks are probably living off hefty severance pay and, surely, a cushy savings account. There’s an article traipsing around the internets today with a mishmash of quotes from freshly unemployed-cum-yoga teachers, like Ms. Veronica Wolkow, whose quondam position in financial services obviously allowed for her to say this,

“Yoga does not provide me with an income stream at this time,” she said. “My bank account is smaller, yes. But my world is bigger.”

Barf. You’re absolutely right we’re bitter (jealous). Besides inserting cash flow into the yoga studios and teachers holding all these trainings, it’s really just annoying to have an influx of wealthy teachers who can actually survive on teaching a few classes a week.

Of course it’s not all nouveau yogi riche, and many aspiring teachers who hear the call will follow the dream no matter what it takes (meaning, lots of odd jobs and stretching the dollar). For some it’s not worth the stress. Caleb Asch teaches 6 classes a week, but it’s not enough to pay the bills. “The stress of not having enough to live on is a killer,” he said.

For others, being a little yogster in a big pool is the problem. Says LA man Jethro Liou, “In high population coastal cities there are just as many yoga teachers as there are waiters.” Funny, we expect more yoga teachers will be waiting tables.

Being a yoga teacher essentially requires selling yourself to stay afloat. Even when it’s something you love, it’s still a business. Ask Ramdev, Bikram or any yoga teacher for that matter, there are still bills, politics, risk, whoring, necessary growth, etc. It’s hard work, that comes much easier when one of your props is a  “six-figure” salary. For everyone else, in this economy, get your aprons ready. At least you’ve already got the balance down.

If everyone’s a yoga teacher is anyone a student? We’re all still students though… right?

Jobless yogis follow their bliss to teacher training [Reuters]

Earlier… Recession Yoga: What about the Privates?

16 comments… add one
  • art

    LOL! Best line of the article >> “there are still bills, politics, risk, whoring, necessary growth,”

  • oh. my. god. you REALLY should have quoted from my blog about the realities of teaching yoga and “making” money!

  • JG

    This quote – “The stress of not having enough to live on is a killer” – really hit home for me. I’ve been teaching full time for over five years and I’ve never made a fortune, but I always made the bills. This year has been the exception. With 30+ “one-month-intensive” YTTs in my city churning out teachers and the studios offering increasingly low pay to teachers (after all, why pay when there are people willing to teach for free?), I’m beginning to question my decision to teach, as much as I love it. 2009 may be the year I throw in the towel.

  • hey, I’m going to link this post to LYJ…..

  • admin

    Linda-thank you! and you’re so right. I love your blog and am catching up on your insightful posts!
    And today’s… halle-freakin-lujah that needed to be said.

  • admin

    @JG wow, thanks so much for sharing that. surely you’re not alone.

  • hey, thanks for calling me “insightful”! I’ve been called worse….;)

    I think we should be the yoga world’s investigative reporters, sorta like TMZ….:-)

  • OK, now everyone knows I watch TMZ….

  • When I made the switch from classes to a dedicated home practice last month and mentioned such on Twitter, I felt a resistance that bordered on chilly from many of the other yogis out there, which might be because many of them happen to be instructors. Now, I love going to class as much as the next gal, but after 9 years of classes, I feel pretty ready to follow my own bliss. (It also doesn’t help that my business is still in start up mode and I have a toddler).

    The subject of home practice vs class, or self-sufficiency vs instruction is going to be a heated one in the coming months. What do you think?

  • Katherine

    This post is so appropriate for me! I’m an actor, and have recently been contemplating training as a yoga teacher. I love yoga, and consider my practice pretty essential to my acting. It also seemed like a great career to run alongside acting — in terms of schedule and philosophy and lifestyle. But after reading this, I’m hesitant. Is it really so bad out there for yoga teachers? I would need to make about $300 a week. Is that an unreasonable expectation? Would I be better off waiting tables?

  • admin

    Suffice it to say the life of a yoga teacher is no easy road. Take it from Katy, a yogi who is comfortable practicing in her own space. Surely there are others staying home nowadays especially in this sputtering economy. But you know, there are also other tougher jobs to be had out there, that are not enjoying any sort of boom like yoga has seen.
    To Katherine, I can’t speak for the budget of banking at least $300 a week…can anyone else speak to this? I can personally say that A LOT of yoga teachers I know are actors. The schedule does seem to work better for that type of profession, and if you’re juggling multiple sources of income of course that’s always a help. I’ve also been down the waiting tables route way back when, and it kinda bites, but it might win you some more dough than yoga-ing. maybe night-time waiting, day-time yoga teacher? anyone?

    @Linda…no shame in TMZ. Perez fan here and proud of it 🙂

  • Katherine

    Thanks for the advice Linda. I’ll keep pondering and practicing before I take the plunge. Love the blog!

  • Teaching YOGA is definitely not a means to being in the RICH circle, even in my country. In my country, people who teach YOGA are vegetarians, dress in white and yellow garments and go around seeming to be holistic and charitable.
    Is Sarah Larson like this or is she just kidding herself and all around her? Showing a spiritual image, being holistic and all??
    To me, not so.. she is just getting back at her ex-beau George Clooney who dumped her abruptly.
    So sad, yet so true. She even had her 2 legs around a sin city guy.
    LOL, what YOGA practitioner is this??

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