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?