Soo how is that yoga job going? ahem. Ya know, it’s funny. We saw this article go up days ago, we knew it was coming too, and still we procrastinate in commenting. It’s been like stretching our psoas after a long day of chair sitting to gather our thoughts. Torturous! Why? Have we said all we can on the subject? Hardly. Besides that’s a laugh, you can’t quiet these yoga mouths! Does it hit too close to home? Yeah, kinda.
We’ve experienced the plight of the yoga teacher not only personally, but via the experience of colleagues and our hardworking teachers trying to make ends meet. Some are modest part time teachers, some struggle while others make a reasonably comfortable income full time, and a handful are high-level seekers with sights set on world notoriety. The more we think about the question “can you make a living?” the more we find the real question to be “what does ‘a living’ mean?’ OR, in other words, WHY are you a yoga teacher and what level of ‘success’ will make you content? Nowhere in the Bhagavad Gita or Light on Yoga does it say you need to be an international sensation with an onslaught of books and DVDs for your merch table on your world tour, to be a yoga teacher. But in a Western capitalistic society, growth and diversity seem to be the only means to a righteous success. Why would yoga be any different?
The DoubleX article sheds light on this with profiles of 4 different yoga teachers, and 4 different levels of earning a living. What we’ve gathered is that yoga teachers fair differently all over the country (right, it’s not rocket science), and that there are varying levels of “yoga entrepreneurship”. Mmhm… what is that then, yogapreneurship?
“It was always a choice of do I pay my bills this month, or do I fill my fridge?” says NY’s Paula Lynch on her beginnings as a yoga teacher. Now over 4 years later Lynch has achieved a certain level of comfort, making her living teaching 16 classes a week and 10 privates, earning enough money to pay rent, bills and maybe a new handbag she’s been eyeing every once in a while. Hardly the big bucks, but, one could say, a success? In any case, she’s happy, and we know it.
But what about this Recession? Private clients have dropped like lead feet from headstand, and somehow this yoga business is still booming. What’s the natural progression then? Open your own studio! Which is what David Morgan of Knoxville, TN did after losing “about 90 percent of his students” due to the bum economy. Of course now the workload multiplies being a studio owner and full on business owner, and so far with New Moon Yoga, Morgan has found it difficult to support himself.
Meanwhile, April Woody, another studio owner (Folding Leaf in W.Va) has had better luck, but admits she could not have pulled it off without her husband’s steady income and support. “It would be a burden if there was more pressure to contribute financially, because I don’t do that very much,” she says. Lucky indeed, and easier for her to say something like she believes in “spiritual economics” and leaving the cash box sitting out. A little salamba success if you will.
And then of course, there’s the go get em mantra of Sadie Nardini, whom we know to be the fierce defender of reaching new heights in yoga successdom with a full plate of videos, teacher trainings, workshops and public appearances, now with the help of her agency.
…Sardini is unabashed about treating yoga as a cash cow. “There’s a myth that you can’t be spiritual and rich at the same time,” she says. “But it’s not spiritual to be broke and stressed out about your rent.”
We beg to differ, things can get pretty damn spiritual round here when it’s scrounge for rent time!
Sadie adds, “It’s totally more than possible to make six figures a year teaching yoga.”
Hm, not entirely true. Selling concepts, dvds, yourself, at events and conferences perhaps, but not simply teaching yoga. Sure, there’s always money to be had, and the celebriyogi stardom and 6 figures are there if that’s what you want. For some yoga teachers, and awesome ones at that, it’s an issue food and shelter first.