From yoga selfies to grassroots community - the benefits and DANGERS of Facebook for Yoga teachers

Take a look at a typical yoga teacher's Facebook page – what are you likely to see? Perhaps the controversial 'yoga selfie' - a photo of the teacher wound into a knot, a pose that has taken years to master, against the backdrop of a beautiful foreign location. What kind of message is being communicated? Is the photo likely to come across as elitist, egocentric, or even off-putting to new students who have no hope getting into such a pose, or who might injure themselves trying? Or is it inspirational – something that shows us the beauty of the practice and the human body?

Surprisingly, I have received both answers from my students. But it raises the question, 'How are we using social media as Yoga professionals? What is our goal? What will be the likely consequences?'

For some teachers, Facebook is simply the means of publishing information about their classes to students – class dates, times and prices. At the other extreme, you have teachers who have created a 'personal brand' – an image of the perfect yoga lifestyle, sometimes combined with products and advertising. For me, both ignore something fundamental, and I want to propose a different model:

Yoga by the community for the community.

As a yoga teacher you surely have begun to develop a vision of what yoga is for, and hopefully a passion to share it with others. The challenge is to develop participation and interaction with your message, using social media as a means to connecting with others and growing a community from grassroots. Here are my guidelines:

- Create content of value, focused on your students' interests and needs. Do they want advice on a healthy lifestyle? Or perhaps instructions on how to brew that Kombucha you brought to class!

- Stimulate dialogue and discussion. Encourage people to comment and share their views, especially on controversial topics. Try polls and quizzes, and give feedback on peoples' answers.

- Regularly update your page so that people will return. Nothing is worse than a static page with poor design. Make it fresh and interesting!

- Provide diversity, from articles about health and nutrition, to guided videos and photos.

- Grow your page organically, sharing content in forums and blogs.

- Use paid advertising on Facebook (it's cheap!) to reach new users who will start to follow your page.

If you do it right, you can get people participating in your page and uploading their own content. You become the hub for community interaction. There is nothing to stop you using Facebook as a powerful platform for your own vision as a teacher. The question is, what are you communicating with that vision?

If you liked this article, why not check out our course for yoga interns and develop your own vision as a teacher. We provide a structured program in two studios to help new teachers gain teaching experience and learn valuable new skills: contact us for more information. Or sign up to our newsletter below for more articles as well as updates on our courses.

Facebook as a yoga teacher

Making it as a new yoga teacher

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.


Yoga Internship Program, Medellín, Colombia, South America - teach and work in a yoga studio - new yoga teachers

Teaching to travel

Teaching to travel can be a very rewarding way to put your yoga skills to use. There are all kinds of opportunities out there - from impromptu classes on the hostel roof or beach, to month long volunteer positions, classes by donation and paid work in hotels and studios. Here are some tips to get going:

  • Practice and others will practice with you! When people see you on your mat, more often than not they will be curious, bring out a towel and join.
  • Talk about your passion: travelers are often interested why we have decided to put aside 'normal' existence for a while and teach yoga. This is a great way to get them involved in what you are doing.
  • See if you can find a regular space in a hostel or hotel where you can give a class, maybe in exchange for a small fee paid to the owners. Put up publicity around the hostel and talk to other travelers about your class. It's often best to charge by voluntary donation. There are some amazing beach spots that are begging to be used for such classes! This is a great option for when you decide to stay long term in one place.
  • Ask around in each new place you visit. There are all kinds of people looking for a yoga teacher to offer their skills in their hotels or studios.
  • Look for work exchange programs. Many communities are looking for teachers to share their classes, and may offer you free or discounted accommodation in exchange. I was lucky to stay in a beautiful Hare Krishna community in Colombia in return for yoga asana classes.

Although it's unlikely to pay a lot, it can be a welcome source of extra income as you travel, and can really help you develop your skills as a teacher. Some of my fondest memories include my time teaching around Asia: morning yoga classes overlooking a turquoise bay on the Thai islands; the intense red of a sunrise against the volcano in Bali just before a meditation class; the sound of exotic birds as we lay in shavasana. 

If you are interested in developing your vision as a yoga teacher further, why not take a look at our internship program and further education classes.