Can yoga teachers make a living? Ha, what a silly question. Oh, you’re not charging $400 a session? $2000 for a 5-pack? That’s how much private yoga with Tara Stiles is going for according to the amusingly named shopping site ahalife.com. (you also get 2 Tara Stiles/Deepak Chopra DVDs with your purchase.)
These days when fresh yoga teachers are churned out by the dozens from training, studios keep springing up like amoebas in fresh water and its popularity has celebriyogis like rocker Adam Levine and even the Kardashians are in on the down dog, teaching yoga should be wedged in the income bracket squarely between wedding planners and divorce lawyers, right? (It’s not.)
True, a select few lucky dogs like Stiles and Mandy Ingber ($1400+ for a 3-day weekend) are high-profile enough to vinyasa in plenty cash flow for million dollar homes and presumed personal sweaty mat moppers, because why not. And we won’t even get started on Bikram‘s Rolls Royce and Rolex fancy. But what can the average, hardworking yoga teacher expect to make? Brace yourselves.
A recent Well+Good NYC article has some interesting insight on the topic. A quote from Ava Taylor, founder of YAMA, the premier yoga talent agency behind traveling teachers like Sadie Nardini (and consequent maker/crusher of dreams) stood out:
[YAMA founder Ava] Taylor’s stable of super-established and highly credentialed yogis earn anywhere from $40K to $400K. While the salary range is huge, “most yoga teachers in New York can expect to make $35K or $40K,” Taylor says. “Even if you become a really popular instructor, with 50 people in your class regularly.”
We think that’s a bit generous, and somewhat misleading. “Most” yoga teachers can not “expect” to make this much, at least not for a while. Let’s break it down. As a starting teacher in NYC, we’ll be optimistic and say within the first year or two you teach (and sub) 10 classes a week at $35 a class and 4 privates at $100 each (again a bit generous). That’s $750 a week, $39,000 a year, BEFORE taxes, and accounting for things like sickness, vacations, holidays, additional training, fancy yoga pants, paying your talent agent and interruptions also known as life.
Aw come on, we’re not here to bum you out, though perhaps some perspective is in order for we blue collar yogi educators. We wholeheartedly believe anything is possible if you put your heart into it – hey we spend our days writing a yoga blog! But the truth is, we’re not all Deepak Chopra’s personal guru. That’s not to say we can’t live our dreams as yoga teachers, we just have to be practical, mindful and clever.
Your yoga practice has the potential to help you find clarity, to let go of what is unnecessary and to uncover your true self. And listen, if your true self is found teaching yoga AND selling handmade jewelry, painting foot portraits for toe fetishists or using your marketable skills to craft world peace projects then by all means do it all. Teaching yoga is a privilege, and expecting to make a million dollars (or even $40k) a year isn’t entirely unachievable. There’s an opportunity for you to reach that $100-200 a class or become LeBron James‘s personal guru, but if that’s your primary goal then maybe this isn’t your gig.
Perhaps a not so silly question is to ask yourself why before how much.
- Teaching Yoga As Second Career: 3 Tips to Make It or Break It
- Deepak Chopra Samples 50 Cent’s Energy Fields in New Ad
- Adam Levine Shows Us His Rocker Yoga Moves (video)