I worked a corporate job while building my YouTube channel for years and I’m completely open and transparent about that.
It really rubs me the wrong way that so many people don’t want to talk about money and yoga in an honest capacity.
And so many yogis are interested in becoming yoga teachers but can’t get straight answers about how much yoga instructors earn, how to teach online, how to launch a YouTube channel, or what to charge for their classes.
Instead, the yoga industry treats teaching like a secret society where you’re supposed to be absolutely fulfilled simply by spreading the gift of yoga and meditation without fair compensation.
And for those who wanna make A LOT of money teaching yoga, well, you’re on your own.
But I don’t think it needs to be that way. In fact, I honestly believe there is more than enough opportunity for all of us.
One in three Americans has tried yoga at least once and with almost 330 million people in the US, that’s A LOT of people doing yoga…
…which means there is A LOT of demand for yoga teachers.
So I thought I’d openly share my process of how I quit my corporate job and became a yoga teacher online so that you could feel confident in doing the same.
Let Go Of The Idea That You Are Just A Yoga Teacher
I think it’s really hard for us to ask any one thing to be our primary source of fulfillment in this life, whether it be a partner or a job or a child, right?
It’s just too much to ask one thing to be our everything. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that I think a lot of us, especially women, have this either-or mentality. We want everything to fit perfectly in a little box with a bow on top. And we think once life is simple, meaning I just have one job or one life purpose or one, you know, gig that earns me money and also fulfills all my other needs, or if I can just put a title on myself that is clear like I am a product manager, I am a yoga teacher, I am a corporate type person or I am a hippie type person, then we will be fulfilled.
If I simplify my life—put it in a box, give it a beautiful title that I’d write in a big Sharpie marker and put a bow on top of it—then I will feel in control, I will feel happy, my life will make sense and then I will feel fulfilled.
The reality is this Container Store fantasy is just that…
…a fantasy. It doesn’t work.
And I think letting go of that enticing fantasy is the first step in taking charge of our own happiness and getting realistic about what will and won’t work for us. I know that I used to feel like I had to fit into a box and have a single label. I felt like there was no way I could be a yoga teacher growing my YouTube channel and still be working a corporate job.
Those things are just oxymorons. They don’t go together. (I thought)
But the reality is like we’re all complex human beings. Yes, from the outside, some other people’s lives may look like they fit the Container Store Fantasy and mentality. But trust me, if you dig deeper into their journey and how they got there, and even probably deeper into their life right now, it’s not the case.
Because life is so much more complicated than that, we can’t just put a single title on ourselves.
Most of us are multi-passionate, meaning we have more than one passion in our life. Most of us have different things that make us happy in different seasons, in different stages of our life. So it’s just completely unrealistic to ask one thing to fulfill us spiritually, financially, emotionally and all these other ways.
So I think letting go of that fantasy is huge for anyone who’s contemplating some of these issues because you’ll just take this huge pressure off yourself to find this one-size-fits-all solution for who you need to be and what your identity is in the world.
Becoming A Yoga Teacher Is A LOT Of Work
Another thing I’m really passionate about sharing is that you need to be realistic about what a career in yoga looks like.
My husband actually got a little bit upset recently, after this most recent round of teacher training, because there is a week or two in the training where we focus more on business stuff and job stuff and money stuff.
And I guess he overheard one of the live calls I was leading and afterward he said, “you’re not being inspirational enough, you’re being really tough on these people.” He said that I was telling them that becoming a successful yoga teacher is a lot of hard work and that maybe I was scaring them too much.
And that got ME upset! I was like, first of all, I’m extremely encouraging. LOL
I really, really, mean it when I say that you can do this if you want a career in yoga, you 100% can. I support my students in this endeavor because I absolutely believe it to be true. I did it, myself!
But I think it’s a disservice to sugar coat it and to tell people to quit their full-time job, do yoga teacher training with me and become a millionaire.
Or to promise that I’m going to share with you all my quick wins and secrets…
…because I don’t have any quick wins OR secrets to my success. I built my business with blood, sweat, tears, and joy. So much joy and so much fun. But it was a long journey and I worked a corporate job while building my YouTube channel for years.
And I’m completely open and transparent about that. It really rubs me the wrong way that so many people don’t want to talk about money and yoga in an honest capacity. Almost every single yoga teacher training program out there just avoids the whole business side of things completely.
They don’t even talk about how to get jobs in a studio, how to get private clients, how to get corporate clients, how to teach online, how to film yourself, or how to build a following. None of that is included. It’s just sort of the yoga teacher training and the business aspect is glossed over as if we’re all happy earning poverty-level wages for our service.
My yoga teacher training was like that and the YTT courses of many of my employees and even students with previous experience were like that too.
The words money, business, career, salary were never mentioned once and that was fine. I wasn’t expecting the yoga teacher training to provide any of those things at that time.
However, in my training, it’s extremely important to me to share all of that information. Because yes, you may just be doing yoga teacher training to deepen your practice or maybe explore the idea of teaching yoga as a career, but I would rather educate everyone about what a career in this business really looks like and be completely honest about the hard work that goes into it than brush it off like a fairytale job that will unfold like a Disney story.
Most yoga teachers who are purely teaching in a yoga studio really struggle. It’s a very hard way to make a living.
It’s not all shanti shanti and generous donations, nor is any career.
If you want it to be an astronaut or a professional dancer or a jewelry designer with their own Etsy shop, like anything, it’s challenging.
And especially with something like being a yoga teacher or a jewelry designer, it’s not just about the yoga teaching or jewelry designing. It’s also about you becoming an entrepreneur.
You have to book your own clients. You have to schedule your own classes and meetings. You have to hustle, you need to hustle, otherwise, it’s not going to happen.
It’s not like a job where you’re just offered a full-time salary and you show up nine to five.
Sure, that’s true in some career paths, but not in the yoga career path. So I don’t think it serves my students or anyone to tell them that it’s as easy as sending your yoga instructor resume to a yoga studio and they’re going to give you a job with a salary and health benefits.
And I’m not going to say that jumping from studio to studio is a sustainable career in yoga, either, because you’re like my family and so I want you to know the real deal.
Keep Your Corporate Job (For Now)
My biggest advice to someone who is considering quitting their corporate job is to start teaching on the side. Try to pick up some classes on nights and weekends.
Networking your way in and teaching yoga on the side is really the best way to get started…
…it’s how we all started!
Before you take the plunge and quit your day job, here are three questions to consider.
Are You Prepared To Put Pressure On Your Yoga Practice?
It’s true that there are people who just quit their job and are like, I’m going to make yoga happen.
But I think there are cons to that because, all of a sudden, the thing that you love has now become your primary source of income. And that can really change your relationship with yoga.
Some of my happiest times working on my own yoga business were when I had my corporate job because the money coming in from teaching and growing the business online was just fun. It was just a bonus.
It wasn’t what I was relying on to pay my rent.
And that was so liberating because I felt like I had so much creative freedom and no pressure to do a brand sponsorship that I didn’t want to do or make a certain kind of content that I feel like I had to make to make money.
My corporate job enabled that freedom.
So you really want to ask yourself, if I really love something so much, do you want to put pressure on it to be a moneymaker right away? Do you want it to fulfill your financial need or more of your spiritual need?
Again, it’s a lot to ask of one thing or one person to fulfill multiple things in your life.
So one thing I would do in addition to trying to hustle and do yoga on the side is to think of all the ways your corporate job does serve you. Because I think a lot of us can get really negative on corporate, but the reality is corporate is great in so many ways.
So let’s list some of the pros of keeping a corporate job:
- You get a paycheck. Oh, paychecks are great. When you run your own business, you don’t get a paycheck. You are responsible for hustling in all the money. So being given a paycheck every two weeks is amazing. It’s something to be so grateful for and depending on where you work in corporate, you might also have amazing benefits like paid vacation. When you own your own business, you don’t have paid vacation, you have to do your own taxes, you have to do your own accounting. It’s a lot, so savor and appreciate what the corporate life provides you.
- It provides stability. A steady corporate job takes care of all of our root chakra issues because it can really help provide stability. Yes, you could get laid off, but on the whole it’s a lot more stable and less stressful than being a freelancer, which is what being a yoga teacher is. You have to hustle your own work 24/7 whereas with a corporate job, your work is contracted and your income is predictable.
- There is a sense of community. When you have a workplace or coworkers you really love, it is really beautiful. When you’re a freelancer or private contractor, as it is to be a yoga teacher, you really miss that sense of community. Sure, you can get a similar feeling at a yoga studio or training, but for the most part you navigate the day-to-day work on your own.
There is a lot that we take for granted with our corporate jobs. When I had my corporate job, I was desperate to leave it and quit and be full time on yoga, but I never let that be the focal point.
I always tried to cultivate this sense of appreciation for the corporate job by listing the positive things that it brought me while I was in it.
Most successful yoga teachers I know didn’t just one day wake up and quit their job cold turkey. Most of them did a very slow transition, like what I did, where it was like a little bit of income from yoga, a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more, until it was enough to finally quit the stable and lucrative corporate job.
Some other things to consider are
- Are you the primary breadwinner for your family?
- Do you have a partner that’s super supportive who can maybe help while you get things going?
- Is it a good time in your personal life to make such a drastic change?
- Have you prepared yourself to turn this thing that you love so much into the thing that earns you money?
Again, the thing I really want you to be cognizant of is that once your yoga becomes how you’re making money, your relationship with yoga changes.
Do You Love Teaching Yoga, Or Just Yoga?
Something that a lot of yogis sort of forget when they first think about teaching yoga full time is that teaching yoga is very different from just loving yoga and wanting to have a strong personal practice.
And again, this isn’t just yoga, this is any job you’re pursuing.
So you love yoga, right? But does that mean you’re going to love teaching yoga?
Because teaching yoga involves being an entrepreneur. There aren’t really that many full-time-with-benefits-and-paycheck type yoga teaching gigs.
Most of them, you’re going to be an independent contractor and in charge of hustling your own work too. So you’re going to be traveling a lot from studio to studio to studio to teach. Maybe you have to go to retreat center and to conferences.
In fact, most of the big yoga teachers I know travel all the time. They’re leading retreats and workshops all over the world and they don’t get to be home with their families as much as they want.
And maybe they love that lifestyle! But this is where I’m encouraging you to think beyond just loving yoga, like your personal time on the mat. The process of teaching requires that you’re working for a bunch of different people. You’re an independent contractor, so you have to hustle your own work.
It’s also quite physically demanding. You’re standing on your feet and using your voice all the time, so you’re not really doing yoga when your class is doing yoga because you’re teaching. Most new teachers share that their personal practice kind of falls to the wayside when they start teaching yoga because all of a sudden they’re so exhausted from teaching.
It’s a huge emotional and energetic output.
It’s magic, pure magic, but it’s not very relaxing like it is to do yoga. When you’re teaching, you’re refining other people’s alignment. You’re walking around the room.
Of course, there is a lot of beauty in teaching yoga, as well. You get to teach many different types of yoga, work with many different yoga studios, get to know many different students, and maybe even travel. You get to lead retreats and workshops and go all over the world and yes, while you’re not physically doing your yoga yourself eight hours a day, the incredible high that you get from teaching is phenomenal.
It’s unparalleled and the relationships you cultivate with your students and watching them grow and getting to be part of their journey is the most rewarding thing in life. So those are all the huge positives.
But it’s important to have a realistic picture of what people are walking into so they can really weigh the pros and cons.
What Does Success Look Like To You?
The other thing that’s so brilliant and amazing about being a yoga teacher right now in this particular time period is the new technology.
You can record videos of yourself, you can have a huge social media presence around yoga and build your business that way. There’s more options than ever before to make money and make an impact by reaching more people through yoga.
And we need amazing teachers. I used to tell myself that the world doesn’t need more yoga teachers, so why should I teach? Why would anyone want to hear what I have to say?
And you need to drop that mindset if you’re saying that to yourself.
The world is desperate for really good yoga teachers. And yes, you can definitely focus on the yoga teachers who are struggling there. I know many of them and they’re not making as much money as they want to.
Or you can focus on the people who are hugely successful in the wellness industry, yoga teachers or people like Deepak Chopra, right, who are millionaires from doing this work.
There’s no difference between you and those people except that they’re working really hard and taking action every single day. They usually have a clear strategy or a clear platform that they’re developing to get in touch with their audience and there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing.
Ultimately you have to define what success in yoga looks like for you.
Does that look like leading one retreat a year and occasionally teaching for fun? Does it mean having a huge Instagram following so that you can get big sponsorship opportunities or does it mean to have a massive YouTube audience where you can monetize your videos?
You need to get really clear on what that success means for you and yoga and then think about what the steps are to get there.
Start Teaching Yoga BEFORE Quitting Your Corporate Job
That’s my biggest advice. Get into action. If you think you want to teach yoga, start teaching. If you think you could support yourself doing a hybrid approach of yoga and body work, I see that combo working really well. Or yoga and health coaching or yoga and something else, whatever it is, start testing the waters and get into action.
Anything is possible, but I do think putting so much pressure on yourself to quit a corporate job or to not recognize the freedom and stability that your corporate job is giving you and just go head first into yoga is doing a disservice to yourself and your practice. It’s just too much pressure too soon.
Get the certifications you need and really the world is your oyster. You can do anything you put your mind to.
I am someone who never, ever, ever thought that I would make a fulltime living teaching yoga. I did not think it was possible and I’ve proved myself wrong and so many members of my family and my parents wrong. So if I can do it, you can do it.
Small steps and consistent action is better than jumping off the cliff so much love.
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