How I Made Multiple Six Figures as a Yoga Teacher...and How You Can, Too! (without compromising your integrity or love of yoga)

How I Made Multiple Six Figures as a Yoga Teacher...and How You Can, Too! (without compromising your integrity or love of yoga)

More times than I can remember, I have had conversations with fellow yoga teachers like you about how much they love teaching, but how difficult it is to make ends meet.

Perhaps you, like many others, spend all day teaching, while never getting a break for yourself to do the practice. You’re exhausted and overwhelmed teaching for peanuts and giving so much energy during the day there’s nothing left over. Finding down time is nearly impossible, because your classes are on nights and weekends when everyone else is relaxing. It’s likely that you teach so much, you don’t even get a day off during the week.

You try to rejuvenate between classes only to cringe at the cost of a latte.

Some of us jump into teaching yoga as a full-time gig, only to quickly find out how difficult it is to make a decent salary. Others juggle multiple side jobs, hoping to goodness the yoga thing pans out. I can’t tell you how many people I know have tried to take their yoga career in a new direction – with workshops, retreats, or conferences – only to face the overwhelming odds against an oversaturated market.

If you struggle as a yoga teacher, you are not alone.

Here’s me teaching (and yes, singing) for a Yoga Day USA event for hundreds of people. Guess how much I got paid? $0.

I’ve been a yoga teacher for nearly twenty years. While I’ve dedicated my life to the craft, and teach with all my heart, it has been a real struggle to make it a viable career choice.

Like you, I didn’t get into this for the money.

But, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be making any along the way.

In fact, I would argue just the opposite. What we do is truly valuable to people. It is often life-changing, groundbreaking work, but even so, the yoga teacher is vastly undervalued.

In fact, statistics show that the average yoga teacher makes only $37,000 per year with many top studio chains offering a meager $25 per class.

If you do the math, that’s means you need to teach an average of 25 – 30 classes per week just to make the average salary. This also means no paid vacation, no stipend for travel or meals, and likely, no insurance coverage.

That’s a lot of hustle for a little scratch.

I did the hustle. There was a time when I was putting thousands of miles on my car, racing all over creation to teach at every studio in town. From dawn to dusk, I taught any class offered to me, and filled my weekends with workshops and my off hours with private clients to make extra money.

Here’s a picture of me teaching in Hawaii in 2008. Sounds glamourous? Sure! Until I had to call my mom to buy me a plane ticket home. Womp.

Even with all that effort, I was constantly behind on basic payments, and I lived without health insurance for years. For one solid week, I once had $1.47. Many weeks, my account was overdrawn.

“There has to be a better way,” I thought.

I scrambled even further, climbing up the ladder to eventually offer workshops at major national conferences, leading teacher trainings across the country, and writing programs for some of the biggest names in the business. I wrote for magazines, was featured prominently on leading websites, and achieved the so-called yoga-lebrity status that everyone seems to long for. I thought I had made it.

Surely, that would do it, right?

Nope. All that travel came out of my own pocket, and I was racing from place to place to make more money to buy the next plane ticket. The intensive nature of teacher trainings meant I had to lighten my class load, short changing any extra money I would have earned.

An awkward shot of me teaching at the Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference.. This was the year I spent more than 175 very lonely days on the road.

I was broke, I was lonely, and I was still struggling for my craft. Maybe this describes you, too.

No matter what I did, nothing seemed to turn the tide.

But, I didn’t give up, and I don’t want you to either! We love what we do, and the world needs spiritual leaders right now, more than ever.

Just because the yoga industry isn’t set up to value us properly (that’s a whole other can of worms!) doesn’t mean we can’t take matters into our own hands.

Which is exactly what we need to do.

Almost every yoga teacher I know struggles with cash flow. They invest their precious time promoting their classes at studios while the studio makes the majority of the profit. Or, they offer workshops or retreats at a percentage split that often doesn’t even cover travel expenses.

In order to earn what you’re worth, you need to change your business model.

Rather than leave the power (and the cash) in the hands of those you work for, it’s time to take it back.

Own your power, and your business, and make it work for you.

I decided to do this a few years back, and it changed everything for me. And, while it makes me feel *super* vulnerable to reveal this, I want to let you know what is possible…

I went from scraping by to earning what I used to earn in a year…in a month.

I used to *dream* of making $100,000 in a year. I thought, if I could do that, I would be able to relax.

I blew right past my wildest dreams and now make multiple six figures.

Here’s me being super vulnerable. 😬

This year, I’m aiming for seven. Not because I’m greedy, but because it will allow me to do more awesome work in the world. This is all possible because I’ve stepped into the role of entrepreneur, learned the skills necessary to run a kick-ass business, all while keeping my work focused on the integrity of the yoga that I love so much.

I have to tell you something, and this truly comes straight from my heart.

Struggling is not a spiritual practice.

Some will claim that we shouldn’t look for financial gain from teaching yoga. Others will tell you that the money will come if you just open yourself up to abundance!

I will tell you flat out that is B.S. 🐂💩

“As yoga teachers, we don’t have to be broke, we can make money. It’s important not just to be abundant, but to have the security of savings for a rainy day. Putting your business online gives you the freedom to teach what you love, and the security of passive income to support you when you need it most.”

The fear and instability that comes from being constantly broke makes it very difficult to open yourself up to the grace required to teach with an open heart.

Finally having the financial security I have always longed for empowers me to choose wisely how I spend my time. It allows me to focus my efforts and energy where it makes the most difference.

Being broke never gave me that opportunity.

Having money gives me the power to make the best choices for how I share my gifts.

And, boy, do I want to share. That is the nature of abundance.

It’s not just a mindset. All the positive thinking in the world won’t bring you riches. You actually need a business model that is designed for cash flow. That is how you fill your bank account. Then, the mindset of abundance allows you to enjoy it to the fullest extent possible.

When you have that, get ready to make your own dreams come true.

I want to fundamentally change the way you engage in your yoga career and empower you to take your business (and your money) into your own hands.

Get ready to think outside the yoga studio box.

Here are my three best tips on creating a yoga career that lets you thrive.

1: Niche down.

As yoga teachers, we often get caught up in the trap that we have to be experts at #allthethings. Not true. In fact, we’ll be seen as the expert in something when we choose a niche. This niche must come from your heart…after all, that’s the best place to teach from, right?

Get some clarity around what you most like to teach about, or what you focus on most in your practice. If you find yourself teaching anatomy workshops when you really love philosophy, then it is time to make a change. If you often get called to teach any class on the schedule, but love teaching only yin yoga, then it is time to put your foot down.

When you try to teach to everyone, ultimately you teach no one.

Finding your niche is the best first step you can take in creating a successful business model, because everything else you do from here on out stems from this. All the classes you teach, courses you create, or offerings you give lead people on a clear path of transformation that stems from your one true passion.

What brought you to yoga in the first place? What could you teach about for hours, or days on end, without feeling sapped of energy? Where do you find the greatest flow in your practice?

What sets your heart on fire? This is your niche.

Be unapologetic about focusing on it, and do it with conviction. This way, rather than be last on everyone’s list to call for any class, you’ll be first on their list to call for this topic: the one you specialize in. Niching down gives you an expertise, and people always want to learn from the expert.

That’s you! You’re the expert!

Once you’ve found your niche, it makes it much easier to find your tribe: that unique group of people who choose you to lead them through their spiritual evolution. You don’t need to appeal to all the people, you need to appeal to your people. Your niche makes it much easier to find them. And, once you do, you use social media to stay connected.

2: Uplevel your social media game.

Most people use social media as a way to connect with friends and family. This gets a little complicated for us yogipreneurs who also use it as a way to establish and grow our business. Ultimately, social media platforms are one of the most powerful tools you have for connecting with the exclusive tribe of people who love what you have to offer.

Your tribe doesn’t want to look at pictures of your cat. Or, your lunch.

To step up as a small business owner, and take yourself seriously (so that others will, too), think of everything you do on social media as a way to grow your business. Growing your business on social media does not mean you need to win the popularity contest. It is not about finding all the people…it is about finding your people.

To do this, curate your posts and interactions in such a way that everyone sees what you are capable of as an expert in your field. Click here for a free social media guide that shows you the ropes.

This doesn’t mean you need to be cold, uncaring, or aloof. Quite the opposite!

You’ll gain traction when you are real, authentic, and personable…and most importantly, when you keep this sacred directive in mind:

Let everything you post serve and uplift (and grow) your tribe.

While they don’t care that you had dim sum for lunch, they do care about what you did this weekend to further your education. They want to see what you are struggling with in your practice. Your tribe loves finding out the things that make your yoga-brain tick, and they are excited when you have advice, tidbits, and secrets to share that help them get to the next level.

It’s all about them. It’s not about you.

Constantly speaking to your core tribe members lets them know that you’ve got their back, and you are here for them and their spiritual growth. Take it up a notch by establishing a rockin’ group where they get secret teachings, or extra special access to you.

And, definitely go live.

Going live is the best equivalent we have on the web for an in-person interaction. You know how students constantly stop you after class to ask you questions or advice? Now, they can do it anytime with you on Facebook or Instagram. You’re their go-to expert…let them go to you!

Social media is your yoga community on the web. It neutralizes the playing field, gives everyone access, and transcends location. No matter where you are, or where they are, you can connect. They don’t need to make it to a weekly class. They can find you everyday.

And, when you’re doing something as important as changing their lives, that access is precious…and priceless. Speaking of access…

3: Take your business online.

The yoga industry is changing, big time. Over the two decades I’ve dedicated my life to this practice and career, I’ve witnessed massive shifts. From the decline of the mega-conference to the rise of the Instagram-yogi, things in this industry are not what they once were.

It is an oversaturated market.

Too many yoga teachers clamoring for work means the pay for classes can be as low as possible, or even free. Rather than try to clamor for packed classes, let your students come to you…at their convenience.

It’s time to go online.

Going online is a way for you to open up your own “studio” without the overhead of a bricks-and-mortar space. It allows you to teach what you are most invested in (your niche) to your tribe (whom you’ve met and curated on social media).

It levels the playing field, neutralizing limiting factors like location, cost, and availability.

When you’re online, you or your students can be anywhere. You can charge a premium for your teachings…which would still be less than what they’d pay at a studio, and far more than you would normally earn (win!). Students don’t need to hassle with schedule conflicts to make it to your best workshops because they are always available.

This is the golden ticket to success as a yoga teacher: passive income.

Even if you continue to offer studio classes, or ultimately, you would like to create high-end retreat offerings, having a solid online presence is the way to make this career sustainable.

Online courses sell even when you’re sick, injured, or (let’s hope) on vacation.

I was never so grateful for my passive income streams as when I was dealing with a major illness (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis). When I would get a flare up, I used to have to push through and teach. Sometimes it would be so bad, I would stand in the shower and cry, knowing I had to face a 10 hour day of teacher training, giving every last ounce of energy I had available. Well, when you’ve got next-to-nothing, that’s pretty hard to do.

Creating an online network of courses allowed me to take care of my health, curate my energy, and finally restore my body back to a state of balance…all while earning an income.

That kind of freedom cannot be underestimated. And, I want you to have it, too.

I also want you to think beyond just putting classes online. Classes are great, but ultimately, you have something more special to offer. How do you transform people? What is your core teaching? Can you teach a skill, or dive deeply into a technique?

Your best knowledge is perfect for an online course.

What we would normally offer as an immersion or intensive makes for great online courses, and you can charge a rate that values you as highly as you ought to be valued.

You can even surpass students’ expectations of a traditional studio experience with live interaction (hello, private social media group), personal touches (how about a 30 minute one-on-one Skype call?), and by answering every single one of their questions…things you could never do in an studio setting.

The coolest thing? It doesn’t take 432,000 followers on Facebook to make this work. No need to bend over backwards to win the popularity contest to gain success as a yoga teacher (literally).

All you need is a small tribe of dedicated followers who can’t wait to have more of what you offer.

When you have your niche, and you offer it graciously to your tribe, they want more of that. When you value yourself highly, and price your offerings accordingly, you don’t need to sell a million courses to make your income goals. You just need to deliver high-quality content to the people who want it the most, and are happy to demonstrate that by investing in you.

You are worth it. I know how much you’ve invested in your craft as a yoga teacher and spiritual leader (I know, because if you’ve read this far, you’re truly interested in making this work!). You’ve already said to the world that you are a dedicated teacher and practitioner of yoga.

Now, it’s time to say to the world that you are an expert who can’t wait to find your tribe and offer them highly valuable teachings in the most accessible way possible, while creating a business that delivers the income you deserve.

If you’re excited by this, and want to take next steps, I can’t wait to help. Sign up for my upcoming webinar where I’ll tell you more about how to create success for yourself as a yoga teacher.