How to begin as just certified yoga teacher? I think this is one of the most asked questions when a yoga teacher training course (TTC) is slowly coming to an end. The answer depends a little bit on where you live and where you want to work. To get you started, here are 10 tips.
A good way to start teaching is by covering classes. If you live in London you can become a member of the Facebook group Yoga & Pilates Cover Teachers – London. A lot of my friends are member of this group and have started their teaching career my covering for others teachers. If you do a good job and the studio starts a new class of one of the other teachers is leaving you just might get the job.
London isn’t the only place that has cover groups like this. If you do a little research on Facebook you can find more. They are not always cover groups. Sometimes they are just groups of yoga teachers. I’ve set up a group in Tilburg to unite the certified yoga teachers there. Yoga teachers do use this group to look for somebody to replace them. So sign up for these groups.
Assist and or adjust
Starting as an assistant or adjuster is another good way to launch your career. Adjusting might not be the goal you are after, but it gives you a lot of hands-on experience , which comes in handy when you start to teach later. Working as a adjuster you also see how the flow the teacher has created comes across and you hear the cues the teacher gives. If you have a teacher that adjust as well you can copy her / his adjustments if she / he does one you haven’t seen before.
At Sampoorna Yoga in India, where I teach at the 200 and 300 hours Teacher Training Courses all teachers adjust in each other’s classes. I’ve learned a lot of adjustments, just being in a class with Rachel Berryman; the head teacher of Sampoorna.
Work as a karma yogi
At a lot of yoga schools you can do some karma yoga work. You get free classes in exchange for a certain hours of work doing administration, making tea, running the front desk, cleaning and doing other little jobs. Doing this work, you get to know the owners, managers of the school pretty good. If they know you are looking for a teacher job and you are devoted to yoga and work hard, you’ll be probably the first they think of one an opportunity comes along.
This word might come across a little strange in a yoga blog, but it does fit in an article about How to begin as just certified yoga teacher. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to all kinds of business meetings, but you do want to get to know a lot of people. And if you do out of general interest – not just for the job – this definitely can help you start your career.
I studied at Sampoorna, stayed in contact with the owner and now I’m back as teacher. When I did my 300 hours I met Petra Tomuta, a Canadian yoga teacher. We connected on Facebook, had some contact every now and then and when she was hosting her first retreat in Costa Rica she asked me to come and teach on it. A few weeks ago I met Sara Bigatti, an Italian (online) yoga teacher. This summer I will be working on her retreats. All inline with my wish to teach around the world.
At this moment I’ve helped one certified yoga teacher to get a job in Palolem, because my friend Jenn Russel was looking for one and asked if I knew anybody. At this moment she is looking for a second person.
On Yoga Trade a lot of yoga studios advertise their vacancies. Signing up is a good idea. There are a lot of studios looking for international yoga teachers who come and teach for free. I’m not such a big fan of that. You’ve put a lot of time, effort and money in your education to become a certified yoga teacher. Your skills are worth something. I can imagine you do it at your local studio to get a head start, but internationally I wouldn’t do it. I don’t think a lot of accountants would go on a holiday, running the administration of that retreat for five hours a day, in exchange for food and stay. Why would a yoga instructor do it?
It takes a bit of courage, but knocking doors is a good option to get started. As I explained in my blog about travelling without money I do this a lot. I hired a yoga teacher, because her brother – who had a business in the same building as I had my yoga school – asked me if I was willing to talk with his sister, who just finished her teacher training course. Merel and I had a chat, she did a try out class and I hired her.
Start your own school
Starting your own school when you just have finished your Teacher Training Course might sound like a big thing, but it is doable. I did and managed. It takes time and you probably don’t want to throw away your old job yet. The hardest thing is to find a place where you can start. You need a lot of room to teach yoga and if you live somewhere where renting or buying is extremely expensive – as it was in my case in the Netherlands – you have to be creative.
I started out in the school of my teacher, who had his own shala, but was only using it a few evenings a week. When my school got bigger, I moved to a space I could rent 7 days a week; giving it the atmosphere I think a shala should have. From there on my school grew rapidly up until I sold it to YogaCentrum Tilburg; to become an international yoga teacher.
Pop up yoga
Starting a yoga school from scratch is hard to do. If you have to hire a place when you have zero students you need to have some backup money. Banks are not that willing to give you a loan. I’ve invested every euro I had, before the school started to make a bit of money. Pop up yoga or guerrilla yoga – as it is sometimes called – is a way to start as well. My friend Pleuni van Hulten did. She started to teach at people’s houses. The owner would get a free class. All other participants would pay her. For every class she would make an event on Facebook. When she had a small gathering she started to rent space at dance studios and started with fixed hours. She is an international teacher now too.
Living room yoga
You don’t have to have a fancy place to do yoga. If you have a pretty big living room that can work as well. It depends where you are after. If you just want to start teaching, why not creating some extra room in your house and start with just a few people. When you’re school is getting popular you can always move to something bigger.
I taught meditation classes in my living room for almost a year. My living room is pretty empty. Some wooden boxes, some pillows to sit on. Nothing else, besides room to roll out my yoga mat. My students loved the warm, homely atmosphere. I’ve got two cats. I explained the more relaxed you are, the bigger the chance they will come and lay on your lap. I’ve never seen students being so focused on their meditation as in those days.
Facebook already came by a few times in this blog. It’s a way to make yourself seen. Twitter is another option, just like Instagram, what is possible the biggest thing in yoga land at this moment. Some yoga studios in the United States hire their teachers based on the amount of followers they have on Instagram. A lot of followers means a lot of new costumers. I do think it’s a bit tricky, because beautiful poses on photo is no guarantee for good teaching skills.
Still: it’s a way to find employment. I get a few invitations a year by through my Twitter account. People see what I do, like it and invite me to teach a workshop at their place or to teach at their retreat. Maybe it works for you as well.