I swear, teaching yoga just might be one of the only jobs where people don’t just want you to do it for free. They actually expect it. Ummm, what?
I’m sorry, but can you imagine asking a doctor to do a surgery for free, simply because they have a good heart? Okay, okay, I know teaching yoga isn’t the same as brain surgery- but you get what I’m saying.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably a yoga teacher. So, you understand the epidemic of getting jobs that don’t pay….like, anything. At all.
It’s already hard enough making a living as a yoga teacher, considering the rates of teaching standard studio classes is quite low, and the energy output for one class is quite high. All of which leads to burn out. Ugh.
This is why I’m writing for you today. Not only am I on a mission to empower yoga teachers to reduce burn out, but also because I want you all to get paid. I see your worth, now it’s time for you to see it, too!
Today’s post will cover the reasons why people might not want to pay you so that you can be aware of the underhanded ways in which people might try to get you to work for free. Plus, I’ll provide you with a variety of ways in which you can ensure that you do get paid for your work, while still remaining in integrity with the yoga practice as a whole.
Learn more about how to improve your yoga teaching skills and business of yoga in my 100 hour continued education course today!
Yoga Teachers, You Deserve To Get Paid
It sounds so simple to remind someone that they deserve to get paid for them job. I mean, c’mon. Of course people deserve to get paid! However, if you’re a yoga teacher, then you probably know that feeling all too well of what it’s like for people to expect you to work for free.
Trust me, I’ve been there, too.
The good news is that you can always change the narrative. And, even better, you can actually make a good living from teaching yoga if you do so with both strategy and heart. Learn more on that in my 100 hour continued education course.
Reasons People Don’t Want To Pay Yoga Teaches
There are many reasons why people might expect yoga teachers to work for free. And while some of the reasons are valid, like not being able to afford a fancy retreat, most of the time it’s businesses and institutions simply being…cheap.
Sorry, there’s really just no other way to say it.
Spiritual bypassing in the yoga community is nothing new. If you’re unsure what spiritual bypassing is, I’ll clarify you in a really simple way:
Spiritual bypassing is using spiritual beliefs as a way to dismiss, reduce, or avoid complicated emotions or situations.
How does this work when people don’t want to pay you? It’s easy, really. They’ll cherry pick one piece of the yoga practice, like seva. And demand that you practice selfless service otherwise “you’re not a real yogi.”
They might also say something like, “aren’t yogis supposed to be compassionate and not greedy, why would you ask for payment on this?”
The gaslighting is real when they make you feel crazy for wanting to get paid to work. Don’t fall for this.
Don’t See The Value
A big problem when it comes to employment for yoga teachers is that most places don’t really see the value of our work.
Keep in mind, this is partially due to the fact that everyone and their moms are (literally, like me and my mom both are) yoga teachers, which makes you easily replaceable. And also partially because a lot of teachers don’t value themselves enough to ask for a reasonable salary.
Plus, most people think that teaching yoga is easy…until they try it for themselves. Sure, it looks easy to string together a few poses, and walk around the room with a soft voice and nice playlist. But, as yoga teachers, we know a heck of a lot more work goes into all of that.
Yoga Teachers Work For Free
Here’s where we need to unite together and agree on something: LET’S STOP WORKING FOR FREE. Okay?
Remember how I mentioned your replaceable? Sorry, you’re wonderful and unique and talented. But seriously…there’s five million yoga people lining up down the street looking for a job.
Well, this replaceable feeling is only magnified when half of the five million lined up will not only do your job, but they’ll do it for free.
Most business owners see free labor as a positive thing, because (obviously) it’s cheaper. As a business owner myself, I highly disagree. Not only because I’m on the side of the teacher, but also because you get what you pay for. And if you don’t pay anything…well, good luck with that.
However, many businesses are looking at the short term, and free labor sounds ideal. So, when other teachers around you are working for free, that becomes the expectation.
Lack Of Funds
Okay, we can’t glaze over the fact that there are many students who simply can’t afford yoga. Drop in classes are expensive. Private yoga classes are expensive. Yoga retreats are expensive.
So, the question is, how can we support students who want to learn, but can’t afford it? We’ll go over that below. Don’t worry.
How To Get Paid As A Yoga Teacher
Now that you know the reasons why people want to avoid paying you as a yoga teacher, let’s talk about the ways in which you can provide a holistic yoga practice, and get paid.
Trust me, both can happen.
You can remain in integrity with the practice, and make a living as a yoga teacher without burn out. Learn how to avoid burnout as a yoga teacher HERE.
Maintain Strong Boundaries
First things first, you need to have strong boundaries. And be okay saying no. As you know, you can say no to something, and still be kind. You can decline an offer without being rude. It’s not an either, or situation.
Be confident enough in your own teaching that you’re comfortable enough to say no to the opportunities that are clearly taking advantage of your energy, time, and skill.
You’ll learn more about this in my 100 hour continued education course.
Have Clear Teaching Rates
A great way to have strong boundaries is to create clear teaching rates. You can even make a rate card to send to people. Because that’s a concrete black and white representation of your boundaries right there.
When you have clear teaching rates already set in stone before you get proposals, then it makes it really easy to know which ones to accept, and which ones to decline.
Redirect Inquiries To Payment Links
Now, even when you have strong boundaries, and even when you have a rate card- people will still try to push you. Trust me, it happens to me all the time.
When this happens (not if, but when), my suggestion to you is to simply redirect them to a payment or booking link to make it crystal clear that you’re happy to do the service for a specific rate.
This might be for the student who keeps you after class who could clearly benefit from a private class, or for a fellow teacher who follows you online and blows up you DMs with questions that should be answered in a formal mentorship meeting.
Don’t Work For Free
The best way to get paid as a yoga teacher is to not work for free. Period.
Let me be clear in saying that I know it’s suggested for new teachers to practice with their friends and family before they go out into the world and get a “real” teaching job. And I agree with this suggestion.
There’s a big difference between refining your skills on your friends and family, versus teaching for free at hostels, studios, or unknown students.
Prove The Value Of Your Work
If you want to be valued as a teacher, then act like you’re valuable! Plain and simple.
This is partially a confidence thing. Which is something you’ll need to work on both on and off of the mat. And, it’s partially being a good teacher.
That means it’s wise to invest in continued education, as well as self practice, and self study. If you don’t know how to offer hands on assists well, then learn about it! If you don’t feel confident in your cues, then practice more!
The value of your work is in your hands.
Include A Variety Of Offerings
Now, from a more strategic standpoint, you’ll be able to reach more people if you have a variety of offerings that come in at different price points. Look at my business for example: I have my app that’s only $14.99/month. And then I have yoga teacher trainings that are several thousand dollars.
By providing a blend of offerings that range from low to high, I can reach more students. And, I can remain in integrity with the practice.
Hot tip: creating an element of your business that’s online yoga is one of the best ways to reduce guilt you might have for the people who can’t afford to practice with you.
Another option to bridge the gap of your offerings with those who can’t afford it is to provide a set number of scholarships and/or giveaways. This is something I do with my yoga teacher trainings and retreats. And then also with annual memberships for my app through social media or mailing list perks.
It’s important to set your pricing in a way that accounts for the free spaces you’re giving away, so that you’re not actually losing anything based on your energy output.
Provide Sliding Scales
During Covid, I taught online yoga up the wazoo. Although I don’t do it anymore now that I have my app, the online yoga explosion is certainly here to stay. And, it can be a great way to maximize your payment as a teacher.
I started by offering my classes at a set rate of $20/class, which is a little less than drop in rates in my local area. While I had a good turn out, I also had a lot of people writing to me saying they wanted to go, but couldn’t afford multiple classes a month.
So, I switched it up to a sliding scale, and guess what? I had 5 times as many students, and made about 10x as much as before. With all of the classes I taught, I never had the average cost paid be less than half of the scale.
Keep in mind, sliding scales are not donation based. This means you have a minimum and a maximum that can be paid. I did $5 – 20 for a single class, which meant there was no option for someone to do the class for $0.
Share Free And Paid Content
If you’re still feeling bad about your students who want to learn more from you, but can’t afford the higher priced options like retreats and YTTS, then it’s simple really:
Just make sure you’re providing a blend of free and paid content that’s useful to them.
This means that even if they can’t join you at your handstand workshop, they can read your monthly newsletter that has your favorite handstand tips. Or, even if they can’t go to your retreat, they can still learn even just a small slice of your class from your online class or social media post.
Providing a blend of free and paid content is beneficial for you and your students, because they’re able to keep learning from you without breaking the bank, and you’re earning their trust by proving your value and worth as a teacher.
This trust will be repaid with higher ticket purchases in the future. Trust me. Learn more about why you need to offer retreats as a yoga teacher HERE.
Let me know which tip helped you earn more money as a yoga teacher in the comments below. You’ve got this, my friends!