I remember the day I graduated from my yoga teacher training. There was the sense of relief at a month of study and tough discipline completed, of having changed my diet and lifestyle completely and having gained a much deeper insight into the rich diversity of yoga. There was also a sense of mild panic about where to go next. I was eager to share what I had learned and dearly wanted a job teaching yoga classes. But with so many qualified yoga teachers out there and so little sense about how to gain employment, I felt lost. A year and a half later I can say I have found my place, but the journey has been far from straightforward. Here is my advice for new yoga teachers:
1. Diversify. After my teacher training, I decided to dedicate several weeks to learning Thai massage, which was at the time little more than a hobby. Little did I know that this would be a hit when I moved back home, and give me the means to survive while I taught yoga on the side. It helps to have a skill that is complimentary to your yoga, so that you can offer your clients both. From henna painting workshops to reiki and doula services – how can you diversify?
2. Build a relationship with studios slowly. It is unrealistic to suppose that you can walk in off the street with a CV and be offered a dream job immediately. Building trust and familiarity takes time. So take classes regularly in one place, get to know the owners and offer to help out. In time they might have opportunities to work as an assistant or cover teacher, or maybe a vacant slot that works for your class.
3. Grow your own community. Offering classes by voluntary donation in the park or community centre to friends can be an excellent way to get started. Organize a picnic or meal afterwards and make it into something people really look forward to. You can connect with others across social media platforms; in time people will bring their friends and it will grow organically. This is an excellent way to get experience as a teacher.
4. Bring your teachings into other spheres of life. Perhaps you can teach valuable yogic concepts and fun asana classes to kids as a school teacher. Or you might think of volunteering in a home for the elderly and providing a much needed social opportunity and safe form of exercise. Or maybe you might teach a class in your office over lunch, helping everyone unwind and disconnect.
5. Find opportunities to do seva (volunteer) yoga work, or an internship in an established studio. I was very lucky to be offered a position at the wonderful Bali Silent Retreat, where I taught one or two classes per day and was able to refine my class sequencing and teaching style. It was because of my experiences there that I decided I wanted to seriously dedicate myself to yoga teaching in the future.
So be prepared to be creative and approach your new yoga career from a lot of angles until you find something that really works for you. Persevere, don't be discouraged by setbacks and remember your love for the practice that inspired you in the first place.