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CNN Ranks Yoga Instructor in Top 100 Careers with ‘Big Growth, Great Pay’ But Forgets One Thing

in Business of Yoga, For Teachers, YD News
Colleen Saidman Yee teaching at her yoga studio in Sag Harbor, NY.  | photo by Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times

Colleen Saidman Yee teaching at her yoga studio in Sag Harbor, NY. | photo by Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times

If you think yoga teacher is a dream job, you might want to keep your day job.

CNNMoney/PayScale’s top 100 careers “with big growth, great pay and satisfying work” is out and you’ll never guess what made the list. OK, you can probably guess thanks to our headline and intro…Ranking in at top job number 10…is…drum roll, please…Pilates/Yoga Instructor. Yes, it’s annoying the two are clumped together, especially since people unfamiliar still tend to get them confused, and the description listed doesn’t even reference Pilates at all.

Yoga instructors balance their time between teaching classes that bring the physical and spiritual together, planning what goes into each class and getting the word out about a studio.

Oy, way to boil it down, CNN. But let’s look at the other glaring issue. We bet you’ll never guess how much money they claim you can make in this profession. Warning: Fine people and prospective yoga teachers of the interwebs, do not be deceived, being a yoga teacher is not like being a school teacher – you’re not going to get tenure. In fact, you’d be considered lucky if you can crack a livable five figures in your first five years.

So how much did CNNMoney say is the median income for a Yoga Instructor? A hilariously blissful $62,400.

We’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

For those of us needing a math refresher (and let’s be honest, a good amount of us yogis are not numbers people) the median is the middle number in a group of numbers. It’s not the average or mean, which might be a little more telling and accurate, especially in this case, it’s just the middle number. This $62,400 is a totally false representation of the real world yoga teachers live in. Beyond that, the list places top pay at $119,000, which is quite a lofty and mind boggling number for the vast majority of yoga teachers out there. So we’re wondering, CNN, whose and how many people’s income did you take into account? Tara Stiles, Ana Forrest and Rodney Yee?

By the way, we’re not saying $62k a year is a great wealth of money. That amount hovers around the comfortable livability range for a single person and would be a decent chunk of cash for a two-income middle class household. But it sure isn’t a comfort zone we’re familiar with seeing when it comes to yoga teachers. Can it possibly be realistic?

It’s not impossible, of course. You could do it by pulling in a mere $5,200 per month. To do that you could teach three classes a day, five days a week at $75 per class (we’re majorly high-balling here – most studios, at least in NYC, pay in the $20-50 range for beginning/mid-level/some senior level teachers). That’s about $4500 a month, roughly just $700 short of your monthly goal, which could be filled in by teaching privates, workshops, etc. So that’s 15 classes a week - assuming you can secure that many and sustain them – at that improbable respectable rate, plus the other bits of teaching you can pick up, for 52 weeks straight, with no vacations and most likely no paid sick leave, and probably without any type of benefits at all = $62,400 a year.

(This does not account for the influx of yoga teacher training grads, aka competition, being consistently churned out by studios that can’t afford to pay their teachers enough to live on or give them enough classes to teach because their own financial structure is built on rocky ground. We know the model is flawed.)

Whew. Sounds easy, right? And not stressful in the least. According to CNN’s list, teaching yoga scored high on the quality-of-life-o-meter with an ‘A’ across the board for personal satisfaction, benefit to society, and low stress. That seems partially correct.

We’re not trying to freak anyone out here. Teaching yoga might not buy you a quartz-crusted Prius, but it certainly can be highly rewarding on a whole other level. This is one thing CNN seems to have gotten right.

What’s great: For many yoga instructors, the ability to transform a person’s day or how they live their life, both physically and mentally, is the best part of the job. “The connection with people is the best part of it for me, saying to them that they have challenges in their life, now they have challenges on their mat, let’s bring them together,” said Mark Nelson, a yoga instructor.

Translation: It’s not the money. We’d like to edit that to say it’s the ability to give students the ability to transform their own day or how they live their life. But maybe we’re just splitting hairs at this point. Or maybe that’s what’s wrong with the guru industrial complex dot com dot guru dot yoga.

Yoga Instructor is the 4th lowest paying job on the list, but we’re also told it’s got a 10-year job growth rate of 13%. The increased interest in yoga and wellness in general is reassuring and it’s so great to know people are actively looking for ways to live better. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking one can, or should, make $62k teaching yoga right now, though the yoga artists management agencies of the world might disagree. Unless you can figure out how to become the Seahawks’ meditation teacher or become Deepak’s new rebel guru, you might want to think of another way to keep your sanity and your calm and enough money to support yourself and your lifestyle. Or couple your yoga teaching with something else you love. Like teaching Pilates? There are plenty of lessons already lived you can learn from. This has been a public service announcement.

Yoga teachers, you tell us, how many yoga classes + privates would you have to teach at your local studios to achieve that level of income?

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Earlier

129 comments… add one

  • Currently I teach 11 classes a week in Fargo, ND at $14 an hour. This equates to only part time work. I work the other half at a gym facility connected to the studio to get the other half. I’m working almost all the time to make $1,400 a month.

  • Anna

    I put my 16 year old daughter through teacher training while she was a Junior in High School. Something to do, something to bring her out of a very dark and awkward time in her life. I paid $1,600 for the training, they hired her right after that. At age 17 she was making $17.50 per hour and still today 4 years later works at the same studio, and teaches 3 regular classes each week.. Not bad money for a kid.

  • Elizabeth

    None of this sounds true, lol.

  • YourMom

    That has nothing to do with the story. We are all so proud of your kid.*

    *=Hints of sarcasm

  • Hi Jessica, It is great to listen about your Job profile. I wish to get connected for further growth of business and people’s development.

  • Gwendolyn

    When I first started out I was teaching morning and night and exhausted all the time driving from class to class starting early in the morning and finishing late at night and I remember at one point I was making $1200 a month living with my mom rent-free. Did they ask people who also have high paying day jobs? Did they ask people who also sell yoga sessions online or other merchandise?????

  • thanks for my belly laugh of the week!

  • Lord almighty, I want to know how many people are making the number quoted in that article. Even when I was teach four to six classes a week, I considered my yoga income to be extra pocket change. Right now, I teach just two classes a week on the regular, and I make between $250 and $300 a month. I make more during the months I teach extra workshops. One of my studios pays me a flat fee of $30 per class. The other studio pays me a percentage based upon how many students show up to each class, and what packages they’re paying with. I can’t imagine anyone making anywhere near the amount in that article—even if they’re also teaching workshops and privates and corporate classes—without burning out fast.

  • Sham

    Without burning out is right…

  • Hi steph,I’m INDIAN.I am also want to learn yoga in your country.what do your think?

  • Sham

    I work 6 days a week as a studio manager, no medical benefits, teach at least 12 classes a week (in a HOT room) sometimes more. I work early mornings, weekends and late nights… I’m on call and manage the other teachers, clean the studio, host retreats and workshops and much more, and I don’t make any where near that. When I first started teaching I tried to make a living teaching and taught (gulp) almost 23 classes a week (totally not advisable), it’s not lucrative or sustainable. I’ve been teaching for 5 years, I am still working on ways to work smarter, not harder because I still have to make time for my own practice, my family life, and creating meaningful classes. Pretty much got to make it in the big time or open up your own studio to make that kind of money; even then, it’s not guaranteed. I won’t give up though, this is my life, I want it, it’s a purposeful and fulfilling way of living and the trick to navigating the world of yoga business is to not become a bitter, self righteous yogi/teacher/student. Namaste’

  • K

    I am just transitioning away from the 23-class/week schedule (and giving up the other part-time job I did during that time which I was too afraid to give up). Yep. Yikes. And it’s not like the 2.5 hours between classes can be spent productively when I am driving, eating a meal in my car, parking, then waiting …

  • Renee

    I make so much less, teach so much more, and have ten times more stress as a studio owner than I did as simply a teacher

  • On a full schedule of classes alone (12-15/week), I think a more accurate median number is $35K. Beyond that, as mentioned, you’ll need some kind of celebrity hook-up or resources enough to provide teacher training. Definitely a bad idea for anyone to bank their hopes on CNN’s assessment.

    Oh, and for the record, big props to Yogadork for coining the phrase:
    “Guru Industrial Complex.”

  • PS in NY

    ::Ouch:: (Sorry, bumped my head on the floor when I fell out of my chair laughing). I don’t know who pulled that ridiculous number out of their rear end, but there is NO WAY the average yoga teacher can make that salary, unless they are selling something besides classes, like DVDs, books, retreats, their own clothing line, etc. Being a yoga teacher, like being any kind of artist, is something you do not for the money, but because it is your passion and you feel it is a higher calling than just making a living. I work a regular job in order to have the luxury of teaching yoga for the love of it.

  • While I can think of a few of my teachers who live comfortably at or around that meridian, they are married and/or don’t have kids and have been teaching for over a decade. They also don’t make their primary income teaching public classes, but instead leading workshops (both here and abroad), retreats, privates, and teacher trainings.

    Personally, I’ve only been teaching for a little over three years (last year was my first year teaching “full time”) and while I made five figures, it was definitely not a livable five figures in a city where cost of living in exponentially increasing, and TurboTax mockingly suggested ways for me to “get help buying groceries.” Luckily I have a partner who is willing and able to support me, but I consider this point in my career paying my dues, and will be thrilled if I ever make it to $62k a year!

  • Asananine

    Never realized Pilates teaching is so lucrative. It must be them skewing the numbers. (sarcasm)

  • Thanks for writing this! Thanks for doing the math, too- I never sat down and wrote it all out because it’s always been such a throwback. There’s a new minimum wage and it’s nowhere close to $10 an hour.

  • Dawn Clapp

    If you are teaching yoga for the money, you are in the wrong field. You truly have to have a passion for the practice and making a difference in peoples lives. It is not what I live off of and I don’t expect that either.

  • Swan

    Some of us live off of what we are passionate about.

  • Amy

    The teachers I take from hustle and when I do the math, it would seem like they can make six figures. Maybe it is because this is Los Angeles and rates are better but here some studios pay $5 a head and others give you half of the donation based revenue for your class. So, if you are a popular teacher who brings in 30+ people you can make some decent coin. Most of the popular teachers also have their own retreats and lead teacher trainings so bring in even more income. The $62k figure actually seems alarmingly low for a full-time yoga teacher.

  • I agee with you…you have to think outside the box and think yourself as an entrepreneur..you work for yourself. Retreats, classes online think of a business partner that can compliment your yoga teachings, meditations diet etc. To help raise your rates. Hit a specific audience…The list goes on. You could make an exceptional living if you wanted.

  • Alec

    I am certain many teachers aren’t privileged enough to be able to have teaching just be their hobby, and actually have to pay rent and get groceries as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the expectation that hard word should help cover these things. I don’t think wanting to be fairly compensated for your work makes you less of a yoga teacher or that you went into for the wrong reasons.

  • claire

    Completely agree. I work hard. I invest my time, energy and own money into providing classes so I expect to be paid fairly. When my time is not valued it bugs me, especially when say a hairdresser demands 60-100£ for less than an hours service… The hairdresser has trained, keeps up with the business and uses their passion & energy. Why the shortfall in our rates?? We consistently undersell ourselves to do what we love that’s why.

  • I understand the frustration that many yoga teachers have with this CNN article, but I have enjoyed a completely different experience because I teach corporate yoga and charge $200/class. A 6-figure salary is realistic teaching 10 corporate classes per week. In fact, I just created a corporate yoga online training program to teach other yoga instructors how to do it. Don’t lose hope, it’s very possible but you have to think outside the box and create your own teaching opportunities.

  • Linda

    Hello, interesting about the rate for teaching yoga corporate classes. If you can please some information lindacadle226@gmail.com. Thanks peace

  • KS

    Please send me information on your class for instructors in corporate industry!
    Thank you!
    txsuperkat@yahoo.com

  • Angie

    Can you send information about corporate yoga classes to me as well at angiemae22@gmail.com? I’m interested in starting yoga teacher training but want a clear picture of where I’m headed before making the commitment. Thank you!

  • Jennifer L Jamieson

    Tell me more about corporate yoga? Please :) what is your online training program? I am a struggling single mom/ yoga therapist/ yoga instructor. This is my skill and I need to make a living.

  • Jennifer L Jamieson

    Tell me more about corporate yoga? Please :) what is your online training program? I am a struggling single mom/ yoga therapist/ yoga instructor. This is my skill and I need to make a living. My email is jenniferlaboda7@gmail.com. Thank you!

  • Cindy

    Interested in information on corporate yoga. Thank you!

  • Irina

    Hello Nicole,
    Do you have your website where I can read information about your corporate online training program for yoga instructors? Or any other contact information :)

    Thank you in advance,
    Irina

  • Sofia

    Could you please let me know where I can reach you! Thanks! Sofy

  • glafira

    very helpful thanks

  • glafira

    corporate yoga, interesting I’ve never heard of that. I’m looking to get certified, and your post helps me explore different avenues. Thanks!

  • Lauren Miklos

    Nicole, I’m interested in your corporate yoga teacher training. What’s the name of your website?

  • Sarah

    Hi Nicole! Please email me that info also at socash178@aol.com thanks!

  • I would love to get information about your coarse. I live in San Francisco area and cost of living is very high, but there are a lot of cooperation here. My email is ariakabiri@gmail.com Thanks
    Namaste
    Aria

  • Daniel

    Interested as well if you could email me. Dtcdannyboy@gmail.com

  • Deborah

    I’d like info too please dschroeds55@gmail.com

  • Leen

    Nicole can you send info for your corporate yoga training or website please and thank you!

  • Sasha

    Hi I am interested in your corporate teacher trainer course. Can you please email me some information please.Thanks!

    Francine

  • Can you send me link to your corporate training information please. Thanks Mike

  • Randall Wellman

    Same applies for massage therapists. CNN’s figures are skewed off into deep space!

  • Rayna

    As a single mom with a bleeding heart to spread yoga to my community I can tell you I work my ass off to barely make a live able income from yoga. I at times have to receive food stamps to get by, and usually have a part time job catering, serving or odd jobs to make ends meet. Most studios in my area pay $15-25 a class and to teach 1 1:15 hr class that’s over 2 1/2 hours of my time and energy in getting there, designing the class, and making sure I’m present and available for my students before and after class. So in the end I’m pulling in less than minimum wage which is $9 in my area. Not to mention that I have to pay for childcare. Also, trainings are expensive so there is that to keep in mind too. Then let’s consider that while your students are sweating and breathing you are talking constantly in sometimes loud yet soft voice and demonstrating the poses that everyone is sweating over. So realistically, energetically and physically how much of that can you do in a day? Most teachers say 3 tops. And then your exhausted. In my case those 3 classes are usually in different places so it’s a lot of jumping around and scheduling. You can’t physically do that 5 days in a row and have any sort of sanity or presence for your family. So you’ve then spent an exhausting day at work and pulled in less than minimum wage. In my case in our high season I work 7 days a week and that’s just to keep food on my table, nothing fancy. Unless you own your own studio or somehow became a superstars private instructor this is not a profession to get rich. But the truth is that’s not why I do it. I do it for my health and the health and well being of my community. I do it for my son, with the hope that by teaching his peers and their families how to be mindful and take care of their bodies that he can grow into a more peaceful, conscious world and that to me is worth more than anything money can buy.

  • Maybe they are getting the median number from people who consider themselves ‘full time teachers?’ I assume the vast majority of teachers (95%?) think they are part time and CNN tossed them out of their wage equation. I own a studio, teach 10-12 classes a week, plus a monthly workshop and a couple of privates a week and don’t consider myself full time. Most of the money I make comes from waiting tables four nights a week. I really like the article you wrote, I’m not disagreeing with it, just trying to figure out how they got a median of 62k.

  • CNNs statistics are misleading: “Median pay is for an experienced worker (at least five or seven years in the field)”

    I looked up their source, payscale.com and found these numbers:

    Payscale.com indicates the median income of a “Yoga Instructor” as $30k per year http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Yoga_Instructor/Hourly_Rate

    A “Yoga Teacher” which somehow is seen as different from a “Yoga Instructor” is reported by payscale.com with a median income of $36k per year.
    http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Yoga_Teacher/Hourly_Rate

    As an ex-full-time yoga instructor/teacher, all I can say is that myself and many other full-time teachers simply cannot even hit these modest figures even when supplement with private lessons and workshops.

  • I don’t know any yoga or Pilates instructor making anywhere near $60k. I do have a couple on my team that are sharing a true whole food supplement to create some additional income. It feels like so many people have to so 2 or more things in order to do what they love.

  • If anyone is becoming a yoga teacher to make money, then i think we are in the wrong space here! Yoga teaching should be about feeling blessed by sharing knowledge and wisdom and helping others find the same miracles we found on our mat when we started. yes, some ppl do yoga as a workout, rather for its spiritual awakening skills, but all in all, even ppl who start with wanting a great workout, find there is something more eventually. But the competition is high and there are more and more ppl becoming teachers, some great, some not so great, still… the important thing is to keep your truth, know why you are doing this and teach with purpose – greatest satisfaction!

  • Bridget

    I teach 16 hours a week, making a little over $2k a month, add in some workshops and I may be up to $2,500 – $3,000. I am lucky enough to live in a dual income household, or else there is no way I could support myself with just yoga. I want to meet all of those people making $62K!

  • Ha ha! In Salem, Or. I was paid $15 per class at a gym and $20 at one studio and then a per head amount at another. At one point I taught 10 classes a week and brought in about $640 per month. I am a stay at home mom first, so $640 was a nice extra income. At that rate I would have to teach something like 70 classes a week to bring in $4500. :/ Right now I teach about 5 classes per week in Washington 3 of them are “my own thing” and I pay 40% towards rent. The other two are $20 per class. I bring in about $400 per month. I’m not starry eyed enough to ever think I would make a decent living off this. I also have my stay at home job and of course my daughter, so I’m good. :)

  • Jason M

    Here’s how they arrived at that figure, IMO:
    A yoga teacher on average might make $30 teaching a one-hour class.
    $30 X 40 hours (work week) = $1200
    $1200 a week X 52 weeks = $62,400 annual salary
    Now, anyone who’s taught yoga knows that this is an absurd way to calculate how much money a yoga teacher makes

  • Candy

    I currently teach 38-40 yoga classes a week. I teach every day and average 355 days per year. I make less than $35K per year. I am single and 45 years old. I wish I made $62 K per year.

  • It’s fascinating to me how many people are chiming in to justify how impossible this is.

    It’s really not.

  • James

    Please tell us differently Nick. I’ve been a studio owner for 10 years and can say that I’ve never brought in that kind of income and neither has any of my instructors. Not saying it’s impossible but it’s definitely not the average. The folks that are making this amount usually live in large cities where even 62 grand is not a decent income and work much harder then most people.

  • kendram

    I was living in NY last year, and taught 4 classes and about 5 privates/week. I made about $2,560/month or $30,720/year before taxes. And that was good money for a yoga instructor, considering how few hours I was actually teaching. What was rarely factored in was the commuting from one studio to another, and to all the client’s homes. So it went from 15 hours of actual teaching to at least 30 hours total, not including time preparing for classes.
    I’ve recently relocated to Montana, and am currently teaching 7 classes and 4 private clients. I make about $1,080/month or $12,960/year before taxes. I clearly have to supplement with other work. I have been teaching yoga for 10 years this year. It is a gift to have the opportunity to share the practice with other people, and my own practice has become about how I can better serve my students. It is definitely not a job I do for the money, but it is the best job I can think of doing.

  • Alanda

    approximately 23 classes per week

  • 1,600-2, 100 a month depending on the amount of privates I get. I teach 7 group classes a week, at 40-45 dollars and have between 6-13 privates a month depending on whether or not my privates are travelling. each class has about 40minutes to 5 hours of prep work, depending on how inspired a feel and it’s about 45 minutes to travel in both directions to work and this is an improvement. Did I mention I’m also working on a master’s degree and in another teacher training because education in this field is continuous and necessary.

  • Tish Ratcliff

    Ha! I teach at assisted living facilities and they prefer to not pay at all.

  • Michelle

    I work for a gym and make $25 a class. I do hold private package deals for groups, that is my money maker. I average $75-100 a class for private groups. But never have I come close to $64k

  • S.

    CNN must have gotten the info from Sonic Yoga. They say teachers make six figures. Must be “advanced” yoga.
    https://sonicyoga.com/200-hour-yoga-certification

  • Durgle

    It’s an atrocity that studios in NYC pay teachers $25-$50 per class when they charge students at least $20 per class (not to mention exorbitant teacher training prices). Rude. Nobody who hasn’t sold their Atman to the corporate “devil” makes that kind of loot. But we already knew CNN was a joke, right?

  • K

    See this is the thing. People paying for yoga have every reason to believe teachers make a lot – since they pay a lot! The problem is that instructor pay doesn’t reflect what students pay.

    Similar issue in my large city. $23/drop in 60-minute class – that’s more than I make per hour teaching there.

  • After almost 30 years, I ‘retired’ from teaching regular yoga classes just over 2 years ago. At one time, I was the only teacher in town. If what was once norm had continued, a waiting list not dwindling attendance and $200 rather than less than $40 per class, I might still be on the mat encouraging students. Instead I traded that lifestyle in for a 40 hour per week job with a stable income, health insurance and retirement benefits, because wandering with a begging bowl was not an option for me in this world.

  • Michael

    It seems that CNN got their data from this company http://www.payscale.com/ which reports San Francisco Yoga teachers as making 36k (1 yr) – 50k (9-yrs) this is from only 16 points of data which seems to be volunteers by people looking for jobs. So there you have it. Unreliable data leads to poor conclusions. My personal solution was to return to Tech but take breaks often.

  • By no means do I want to discourage anyone from becoming a yoga teacher. I love my job and enjoy running my studios. I will give you prospective from both the teacher and studio owner’s side.

    From the teacher’s side, the average teacher in the DC area get about $45 per class. This is an average of gym and studio pay rates. To make $62,400 a teacher would have to teach 1,387 classes a year, that translates into 27 classes a week. You may be able to offset some of those classes with more profitable privates and workshop, or higher pay if you are in demand. Very few teacher could teach 27 times a week. The physical and emotional demands are to high. You will have a hard time convincing a studio to put you on their schedule more that 4 to 6 times a week, unless you work for a studio with multiple locations. That means you need at least 5 places of employment. Most studios fear having a teacher with too much of a presence. Many of them have seen their popular teacher decide to open a studio in the same market or move to a competitor’s studio, using their popularity to attract clients away. Remember to are only paid if you work, time off is costly. Classes can be taken away quickly if your number fall.

    It took me over 2 year to reach over $50,000 a year running my first studio. The second is currently at break even after a year, in other words no profit. The reality of yoga is, it a numbers game. My teacher are rewarded by the number of students in their class, with a base. Each client is worth about $10 dollar, this factors in unlimited pack and promotional pack. In my case every class contributes $50 toward overhead, desk staff and rent. My base is $50. To break even there has to be 10 people in a class, this means the studio makes $0. At 16 the teacher get $60, overhead is still $50 and the studio would make $40. And at 21 the teacher get $70, overhead is still $50 and the studio would make $90. Unless you consistently have over 20 folks in your class the studio will now turn a nice profit. In addition most studio have start-up cost to open which need to be paid back. This is usually at least $100,000 if you really control cost, and can be much higher. I have hear of studio spending $400,000 – $500,000 to open. That’s a lot of yoga.

  • You are so caring Mary. Unfortunately we cannot protect the ignorant from themselves.

    Anyone who invests into a teacher training program without educating themselves on the market and crunching the numbers for themselves is bound to struggle in many areas of their life.

    Should we be able to rely on ‘News’ sources for facts? Absolutely! Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with our current media.

  • Fred…awesome share. I ran a successful studio in Michigan. There’s much education needed for the yogi who wants to open a new place, for instance how to negotiate a lease with tenant improvement dollars, cap on CAM, etc. I love how you pay your teachers- too many studios do not value their staff and the students feel it. I often went for the big vision of numbers- how much I wanted to bring in every month to not only break even but pay myself, health insurance, etc. My ideal was to open the doors to an awareness of self realization for every person who walked into the studio – I stayed in alignment to that as best I could. Then I added retail, packages and anything else I thought my customers would be. If they didn’t buy it from me, they might buy from someone else. I know you’ll rock your second studio!

  • kris

    What are these unspecified “start up costs”??? All a yoga studio seems to require is a space with hardwood floors and some folks teaching classes. I know the rent it too damn high, but I do not see why the studio should make $90 when the popular yoga teacher who drew a crowd makes $70.

  • Mary

    Send these comments to CNN and ask for a retraction as this kind of false info causes people to spend money on training without having facts

  • You are so caring Mary. Unfortunately we cannot protect the ignorant from themselves.

    Anyone who invests into a teacher training program without educating themselves on the market and crunching the numbers for themselves is bound to struggle in many areas of their life.

    Should we be able to rely on ‘News’ sources for facts? Absolutely! Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with our current media.

  • CNN’s piece is misleading. Like YD mentions, it’s the *median* not average. So their data may have found yoga teachers earning $0 to $124,800… and they fail to mention the majority will be below the median… closer to the $0 end of that scale.

    Also, for people who are saying $62K is totally achievable, I’m guessing these are teachers in NYC, SF, or other areas where the economy is doing well… but let’s take into account the fact that the cost of living is out of control in those places, so $62K after taxes and paying for your own health insurance doesn’t leave you with much to get by.

    That’s the other thing CNN doesn’t mention: deducting another $5,000/year to pay for your own health insurance.

  • Alec

    So, median means the middle number. This actually means that half the people make above $62k and half the people make below $62k. For example, in a room of 101 yoga teachers, 50 would make above $62k. The majority will not be below the median. In fact, there will be an exact same amount above and below.

  • !!!

  • According to my 1099 and W2 for the two locations I work at in Fargo, ND, I have to teach three times as many classes to make that national average (or get paid 3x more). And I’m teaching about 15 per week at a rate of $20-45 depending on which location and number of students.

  • Krishna Venkatesh

    I wonder what Hanuman thinks of all this?

  • Krishna- I’m thinking Hanuman would be wondering why many studios aren’t paying their teachers what they are worth. Teachers are cost of goods sold- when a studio owner is in fear or lack and not pay their teachers what they are worth, it brings down the energetics of the entire place. Gurus in India were the first to be paid- it might have been with gold, food or coins, but they were the first. Wouldn’t it be nice if the healers of our world were paid what the pharmaceutical executives are paid? Let’s make it happen- first step is believing that it can.

  • S.

    Hanuman would be shaking his head wondering why studios are charging $3k a pop to certify people in doing asana-like contortions like “wild thing.” He wouldn’t recognize it as “yoga” because of the lack of bhakti, rampant disregard for aparigraha, and certainly no Ishvara pranidhana. There are “registered” teachers who don’t even know the meaning of the aforementioned without first googling it. They certainly would not know how to practice it.

  • My mentor put it quite well, “The industry is good at churning out drill sergeants, we are good at turning out lieutenants and captains but where are the generals?”

  • Although I agree that hoping for $62,000 right out of the gate is unrealistic, but I’ve been teaching yoga for almost 4 years full time, I don’t sell any merchandise or have a crazy celebrity gig, but I still make a very decent living, not that far off from CNNs projected numbers. I just work hard, I’m good at marketing, I don’t accept work or classes that are low paying (unless I’m asked to volunteer which is different) and I would never undervalue my talents or training by accepting a less-than-fair-energy exchange. It’s taken me a few years to build my business up and I certainly made a lot less in the beginning, but I have to say making that much – and more – is absolutely possible if you can marry business savvy with yoga passion. I think it might be most accurate to say that people who have no business or entrepreneurial experience or sense should keep their day job, otherwise it’s totally possible to make good money and live a good life teaching yoga. Just my two cents based on my lived experience :) have a lovely day everyone!

  • Jen

    Thanks for that reply Jenny – a very valid point – a lot of yoga teachers don’t necessarily treat what they do as a business and this point is vital!

  • It is possible to make this and more – Ive had a yoga retreat center abroad, and also being a traveling teacher I did ok. However, you are never home and when you are, your teaching ALL THE TIME. Now Im in the states and was just thinking about this topic the past few weeks since I arrived. Lets see!

  • Sandy

    Altbough this article gave me a giggle and took me back to my early days of burnt out yoga teacher when my sole focus was to replace the $ I gave up working a corporate job! Now after years of teaching and insight into the business of yoga I have focused my energy into the less is more approach. My time is very valuable and I charge as such. I focused my marketing to corporate jobs, privates and workshops keeping my “foot in the door” at a local studio only 1 class/week. I am lucky I suppose to be living in Canada where wages are high and healthcare is “free” and companies invest in their employees health I can make upwards of $300/day for only a few hours work. Studios pay an average of $50/ class but the potential to make upwards of $100/hr just takes a little cleaver marketing initiative and a community hall! I would question where CNN got their stats as obviously this is not the norm but where I live there are many yoga teachers who are gainfully self employed and satisfied!

  • nl williams

    i have a 40 hour a week job and make less than that…and i am a certified yoga teacher but my full time job keeps me from teaching..but seeing as how i could, possibly, earn 20k a year more..i may have to rethink some things!

  • My ASSana!

  • Melissa Cretin

    at $20/hr I would have to teach 69 classes a week!!!

  • Melissa Cretin

    at $20/hr I would have to teach 69 classes a week!!!

  • Melissa

    Correction: Only 60 classes/week ;)

  • I would have to teach an average of 5 classes and 2 privates each day, 6 days a week to make that at the studios where I currently teach in Denver. I currently teach an average of 25 classes per week (down from the 30 I was doing for a while, that was too much!) and 4 privates a week. I also teach workshops, which help.

    I think the real problem is that there is a constant flood of new teachers, many of whom are willing to work for peanuts. That keeps the pay rates low. I know many, many yoga teachers in Denver who work for minimum wage at the largest chain in town. That chain is making tons of money, of course, but it isn’t passed on to the teachers.

  • Coco

    As a full time teacher I was making $54,000 a week teaching about 25-35 classes and privates a week and I made anywhere from $35-60/class. For the record, I also teach Pilates ;-)
    That being said, I was teaching 6 days a week, anywhere from 3-8 classes a day (yikes!). When you factor in driving to and from each studio, getting there 15 mins early to set up and staying 15 mins late to break down (usually longer because students almost always have questions or want to connect) it came out to 2.5 hours per hour class. So on the days when I was teaching 8 (ugh) my first class started at 6am and my last class finished at 10pm and I went all. day. long. It was not sustainable at all and at the end of the day I felt triumphant, like I had just survived a battle.

    It take a lot of energy to start and stop something; once you’re in the flow at work it becomes easy to keep the momentum going but having to ‘gear-up’ and wind-down so many times in one day takes another kind of energetic toll. Teaching also requires a higher output of energy than many jobs; you have to be 100% focused the entire time (unless you are a careless teacher). These are some reasons for why people cannot teach the high quantity of classes required for a higher living.
    I love yoga so much that I decided to quit doing it for a living. I’m now in school full time training to become a psychologist. I can still help people and make the world a better place but this way I can also help myself.
    Good luck to all the teachers out there; I love being your student and appreciate all that you do.

  • Coco

    As a full time teacher I was making $54,000 a week teaching about 25-35 classes and privates a week and I made anywhere from $35-60/class. For the record, I also teach Pilates ;-)
    That being said, I was teaching 6 days a week, anywhere from 3-8 classes a day (yikes!). When you factor in driving to and from each studio, getting there 15 mins early to set up and staying 15 mins late to break down (usually longer because students almost always have questions or want to connect) it came out to 2.5 hours per hour class. So on the days when I was teaching 8 (ugh) my first class started at 6am and my last class finished at 10pm and I went all. day. long. It was not sustainable at all and at the end of the day I felt triumphant, like I had just survived a battle.

    It take a lot of energy to start and stop something; once you’re in the flow at work it becomes easy to keep the momentum going but having to ‘gear-up’ and wind-down so many times in one day takes another kind of energetic toll. Teaching also requires a higher output of energy than many jobs; you have to be 100% focused the entire time (unless you are a careless teacher). These are some reasons for why people cannot teach the high quantity of classes required for a higher living.

    I love yoga so much that I decided to quit doing it for a living. I’m now in school full time training to become a psychologist. I can still help people and make the world a better place but this way I can also help myself.

    Good luck to all the teachers out there; I love being your student and appreciate all that you do.

  • Coco

    *That should have read $54,000/year, not week :-)
    That would be pretty sweet though.

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  • Bob

    Does anyone get that working as hard as you can yields you nothing. Everyone on hear detailed how they are getting nothing from doing everything they can trying to do a posstive thing for people. It took the plague to bring the enlightenment. Do we need to wait for microbes to do the job? How many of the 1% must be culled from the herd so people who are willing to work can once again earn a living?

  • Mae

    My husband and I own and operate a yoga studio that has been in business for 8 years, and offers 8-10 classes per day. We offer Integral, Ashtanga, Jivamukti and Dharma Yoga classes. We each teach 10-18 classes per week (each), often subbing for our teachers, we lead one 200 hour and one 500 hour teacher training per year. Manju Jois and other well known teachers teach special workshops at our studio each year. We sell yoga mats, vitamins, books, clothes, cds, dvds, deity statues and miscellaneous self care items in our lobby. We work between 60 and 100 hours a week depending on what’s happening at the studio, and we SHARE about $30k a year before taxes. We usually have to pay between $8k and $10k in taxes each year. Not only do we not make a livable income, but running the business puts us under a great deal of stress. I wish more people understood the difficulties involved in teaching and owning yoga studios.

  • Ray

    @Mae, if you and your husband share $30K a year and that is your only source of income there is no way that you should be paying $8-10K in taxes. You should consult an accountant.

  • sally

    If you want to make the money that this article is talking about then you need to work independently with low overhead. Get used to rejection. Use your practice as a means to get through the bumpy road ahead but most assuredly it’s worth it. Good luck and God bless.

  • Jen

    As a studio senior instructor in central (rural) florida, I teach 6 classes a week and run Ytt 3 times a year. I might be lucky to bring in 10-15,000 this year. I supplement by doing taxes during tax season.

  • At the community center I would have to teach 57 classes a week.

  • LoRo

    A few months ago my friend was interviewing for a promotion at her advertising agency while I was simultaneously applying for a raise at a fancy gym I work at in NYC. Her potential raise within her field was $30,000. Mine was $5. She got the raise and the promotion. I didn’t. I am currently applying to grad school.

  • Wow. I’m with you YD. Those figures are delusional. I get paid far better writing about yoga than teaching it! All in service. Great article. :)

  • I moved from NYC to Charleston, SC and went from making $50/class to $15-20/class. At my current studio I would need to teach 4 classes a day 5 days a week to make that magic number $62grand. Unrealistic. I teach yoga to help people feel good. It would be nice to be able to support myself and my family by just teaching yoga, but it just isn’t realistic at this point in my life. So I live happily, teaching 5-8 classes a week and working a second part time job. I work more than I care to and sacrifice some nights and weekends to maintain my lifestyle, I work on promoting my classes and do things outside of the studio to spread the word: yoga is for everybody! And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • After grinding away teaching tons of classes and directing teacher trainings at for profit yoga studios in NYC and Long Island, my husband and I started a non profit that goes in a completely different direction. I knew first hand that teachers and most studio owners were barely making a profit, so we decided to try an experiment in non-profit by-donation yoga. The idea is that over head is low, classes and workshops are by donation (with no required donation) and all the profits are used to pay teachers $50 a class to teach to underserved communities. So far the yoga community has embraced our model and it’s sort of socialist ethos. I think maybe we could all use a dose of de-capitalizing our beloved practice : )

  • I teach at three studios and one business (two started in 2016), teaching between 9 and 13 classes. Two studios pay per head and one studio has a tiered system. Which would be GREAT if I had classes packed with 20+ people — but this is New Hampshire. I am through the moon if I get 8. A lot of times it’s more like 2 – 5. There have been times no one would come and I essentially made negative money. The corporate gigs are much better paying, and I could potentially have a livable income if those 13 classes were all for companies, but 99% of my classes are for studios and I’m lucky if I make $1000/month on yoga (below the poverty line, big time!)

  • Wow. I really would like to understand where CNN got that number! I’ve been teaching for 11 years in Seattle – I’ve run the range of teaching open classes for a studio (not remotely sustainable financially,) running my own studio (about the same,) and now teach independently. Finally, as an independent entity I am able to make close to that listed salary and only teach 3 classes. How? I market my own classes, have a big word of mouth community, ask students to pre-register and pre-pay for a quarterly series in advance (from 8 weeks in the summer to 13 weeks in the Fall…) so I get paid whether or not students decide to show. My income is predictable and guaranteed. I rent space out of a community center so rent isn’t exactly low (I’m in Seattle afterall,) but it’s manageable. I started with 4 students in my first series, and built up to over 100 students per week after a decade. It is sustainable because I’m not teaching a ton so don’t feel burnt, and I really get to know students and their needs which is really rewarding. It does help that I offer a specialty series, and over the years I’ve really worked to become the best teacher I could be. All this is to say that it isn’t impossible, I think there needs to be more conversations in trainings about the miriad of ways we can approach teaching and offering classes in our community.

  • Erik

    I read every one of your comments. I’m still going for it anyways.

  • Mukesh Kumar

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  • Em

    I just moved to Europe and have snagged myself 13 classes a week at €40 per class. Which roughly provides me with €2080 per month, give or take depending on sick days, subbing, and private sessions. I have bigger goals with that but for the time being I have set a strong standard to not get paid any less than that per class. It’s hard work teaching that many classes, but definitely rewarding. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

  • I am taking classes of Yoga Integral in Brazil, for be a teacher, and I didin’t know that this career pays so low.

  • Bianca Campinhos

    But of course, I am completely in love with yoga integral, and hope to be a good teacher.

  • Harsh Nandal

    Hii…. I am a yoga instructor. I completed my post graduate diploma in yoga. I completed 200hrs. International yoga teacher training course. I seek a yoga instructor job in foreign country.

  • Morgan

    I am currently in teacher training and am in love with all of it, but not without a realistic mindset. I understand that it takes years to build a name and clientele base, and also good classes..sequencing and verbal cues are hard work. However I love yoga, it has helped me in so many ways, mentally, emotionally and physically. If I can bring even a piece of that to someone’s life and open that door, I am happy. As a legal assistant, I am not quitting my day job, although there is opportunity to do yoga full time. I am within cycling distance from each studio I go to, and one I am working the front desk at. Location is important, and so is your passion !
    NaMaste ♡

  • harmony

    I’ve been teaching for over 5 years as my main job in NYC and write on the side. It took me a long time to build up to making $50K a year with no downtime. I’m switching to a full-time content writing role outside of NYC. At peak, which I’m leaving, I made between $30 to $90 a class depending on the studio’s fee scale. $60 for clients through studios and $100 cash/cheque for at home private clients. Took years to end up with around 10 privates a week and five public classes and sometimes I spent up to 2 hours a day on transit commuting to studios. Plus, I still had to find time to write and do my own practice. I still plan to teach, but just for money on the side. Will miss my students as I’m moving away.

  • david

    fun read. i think it depends on which city you work in. as a full-time yoga teacher in the san francisco bay area, teaching 10-15/week, you make anywhere from $20-40K in year 1-5. once you’ve gained popularity and developed a following, usually beyond year 5, you can leverage your salary to $40-$60K. teachers who also lead retreats and trainings can pull $60-100K. a few yogilebrities do enjoy their 3 figures. all teachers share one thing in common: working hard! for sho…

  • Sara

    I teach at a local private school for 20 dollars an hour. When I teach at a studio it is usually base pay of 25 then 2.50 a head after the first 5 students. I am in WA state. I make around 16,000 a year. I would take 60,000 in a heart beat but I’m not willing to stop eating and sleeping just to teach 24 hours a day. ;)

  • Amber Brown

    I don’t care about yoga trends, I have a business as a yoga teacher for 7 years. I study, alot. I have always charged a much higher rate than my competitors for private yoga, and now I travel exclusively for one client, international travel and its pays well. I have had a solid business plan and vision from the get go, and I want to feed myself. I did have a studio, made a short term lease, rented in a lower end, lower rent area, as an experiment. I got out of that lease on legalities because yoga students are financially unreliable. I also wrote my own teacher training course, took me 9 months, I wrote a book and I have another one coming. Yes, this is yoga – and I cross train in many modalities, so my knowledge bank about the all the 11 systems in the human body is rich. I add that yes this is yoga, but this is also business. You have to pay to play, both in sweat (learning) and in cash for business (accountants, insurance, licensing etc). Oh, I might add, I was homeless in 2004 and had no idea I would ever teach yoga. I was awarded a scholarship from Kripalu after I wrote why I wanted to train in yoga. Anything is possible, you have to put the effort in however, for success.

  • Yeli

    and what about the pilates instructors?

  • Jessica

    I teach/have taught both Pilates and yoga. Initially when I started (2006) I was primarily teaching Pilates in yoga studios and making more than the yoga teachers as the studios saw the Pilates training as providing a unique value add (I’m assuming). Over the years as I flipped back and forth between BC and Ontario I saw studio rates go down due to the increased competition of other studios and waves of eager new teachers seeking experience and energy exchange.

    Workshops were beneficial financially, but required a lot of work preparing materials – in the future I would hone in one one and grow it. So much work.

    Pilates at the beginning usually paid around $45-$65 per class, studios managing a private roster .. $35-$50 or a split. I have walked out on studios that pay less because it’s simply not worth it and says something about their financial footing and philosophy.

    Corporate I have done on and off – in 2007 I was receiving $85 a session working under a teacher I believe kept an addition $40 on top of that to pass them along to me. Recently (2016) I was offered the same rate, however it was through a third party that organizes wellness services for big corps and I’m sure also takes at least the same amount over that.

    Now I live in a rural area. It is different. The scales are not the same as they were in Toronto and Vancouver. Pay is less. It takes time because it’s very much relations oriented. People make spending decisions differently.

    On the note – Pilates has a better stream of income than yoga to teach privately due to the clinic nature of the method.

  • Gena

    Hi I’m a teacher and I know my 4 years teaching could have been spent more wisely. Currently I teach 5 times a week and get 350 a month. I am like others planning my next year’s working smarter not harder. I am imagining that they took sponsorship into account. I’ve been given over $500 in yoga props and clothing. Many I would have bought if didn’t get them free. Again social media is great at making more money and finding privates and workshop people but has spawned the guru complex as a result. I aspire to making the real average 30000$ this to me is a very comfortable place where maybe I can still have me time. Time to be there with my kids and still have time to improve my own practice. Dream or reality? I say reality. . . Maybe disillusioned but my summer has me teaching more then ever this year and I am aiming more at marketing myself better. I.e being an example. . Eating healthy, smiling more, understanding more, and having less expectations. . . . The rest may follow! J’espire in the mean time I’m manifesting workshops and retreat owners calling me. Much love yoga geek and a very true reality of yoga life.

  • Gena

    Hi I’m a teacher and I know my 4 years teaching could have been spent more wisely. Currently I teach 5 times a week and get 350 a month. I am like others planning my next year’s working smarter not harder. I am imagining that they took sponsorship into account. I’ve been given over $500 in yoga props and clothing. Many I would have bought if didn’t get them free. Again social media is great at making more money and finding privates and workshop people but has spawned the guru complex as a result. I aspire to making the real average 30000$ this to me is a very comfortable place where maybe I can still have me time. Time to be there with my kids and still have time to improve my own practice. Dream or reality? I say reality. . . Maybe disillusioned but my summer has me teaching more then ever this year and I am aiming more at marketing myself better. I.e being an example. . Eating healthy, smiling more, understanding more, and having less expectations. . . . The rest may follow! J’espire in the mean time I’m manifesting workshops and retreat owners calling me. Much love yogadork and a very true reality of yoga life.

  • If you assume you’re paying an instructor $42.86 per class – teaching 4 classes a day, 5 days a week will yield $1200.08 each week. x52 = $62,404.20 per year.

  • Dave Asher

    The idea of being a full time yoga teacher seems difficult unless you own the business and /or have some other product to sell. I work full time in an office and teach 3 nights a week for fun. The pay barely covers all the insurance ,continuing ed and fees. Yoga is a wonderful practice and teaching is cool but hard to make money. Yoga schools are turning out new teachers as fast as they possibly can so it’s hard to get a good gig.

  • Would $50 per class – 4 classes a day, 5 days a week be appealing for an instructor if the business model was able to support that?

    I’m thinking that breaking $50k annually would be appealing, and much better than the current opportunities, but would be interested in checking with the community first.

  • Melanie B

    I live in Canada and make $50 an hour teaching yoga. Pretty sustainable. I quit my corporate job working for $27 an hour to be able to have more time in my life to do what I want to do.

  • Ryan

    Who would have thought an article on yoga as a career could focus so heavily on money. Why don’t we all quit our jobs and become bankers!

  • The first 6 years that I taught yoga was strictly volunteer work, as the school paid its own rent and then sent money to India for charity to build schools and medical facilities. I co-owned a studio for 14 years that survived only because we paid super low rent. Today I teach 6 classes for $165-$250 per week. There’s Yoga Alliance dues and liability insurance so I also have to work 2 days weekly elsewhere, write a magazine column and do a few workshops annually. Still, not a huga income by any means, mean, meridian, or average!

  • The first 6 years that I taught yoga was strictly volunteer work, as the school paid its own rent and then sent money to India for charity to build schools and medical facilities. I co-owned a studio for 14 years that survived only because we paid super low rent. Today I teach 6 classes for $165-$250 per week. There’s Yoga Alliance dues and liability insurance so I also have to work 2 days weekly elsewhere, write a magazine column and do a few workshops annually. Still, not a inme by any means, mean, meridian, or average!

  • The first 6 years that I taught yoga was strictly volunteer work, as the school paid its own rent and then sent money to India for charity to build schools and medical facilities. I co-owned a studio for 14 years that survived only because we paid super low rent. Today I teach 6 classes for $165-$250 per week. There’s Yoga Alliance dues and liability insurance so I also have to work 2 days weekly elsewhere, write a magazine column and do a few workshops annually. Still, not a huge income by any means, mean, meridian, or average!

  • The first 6 years that I taught yoga was strictly volunteer work, as the school paid its own rent and then sent money to India for charity to build schools and medical facilities. I co-owned a studio for 14 years that survived only because we paid super low rent. Today I teach 6 classes for $165-$250 per week. There’s Yoga Alliance dues and liability insurance, so I also have to work 2 days weekly elsewhere, write a magazine column, teach some private classes and do a few workshops annually. Still, not a huge income by any means, mean, meridian, or average!

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