As a teacher, I often get people asking me about teaching yoga.
There are several concerns or questions that pop up so here's my humble and brutally honest experience after teaching for a while. It certainly won't be the same for everyone.
If you are considering teaching or taking training, this is for you.
1) I want to get away from 9-to-5 and corporate bullsh*t
Sometimes, I think people think that teaching yoga means you won't suffer from office politics. You can "get away from the corporate grind'. Let's put it this way: humans are humans wherever you go. Depending on where you teach, it can get very competitive and political. I am fortunate to be surrounded by lots of nice people. I am so grateful for the angels in my life.
Your job may not be 9 to 5 and you may seem to have pockets of time in between where you are not teaching. However, the fact is: you may actually spend more hours working. Your day may start at 6am and end at 10pm. Your free time in between may be spent on planning, studying, practising, commuting or simply catching up with rest. You may be working while your friends or spouse are not so your social life may change. You have to worry about numbers too. KPIs don't just exist in corporate jobs. Depending on where you teach, you may not be able to take leave as and when you like.
2) Teaching yoga seems easy. It looks so zen.
It looks more glamorous than it really is. Instagram makes teaching look like a cycle of cool poses, green smoothies and funky outfits but the truth is: it is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. You have to think about what to teach, keep yourself updated, lead people through a safe practice and stay authentic through it all.
People often don't see the amount of information that goes through a teacher's brain while trying to look zen and hold the space and energy of the class up. You will experience moments of exhilaration as well as moments of doubt. On top of that, people expect you to be zen and always know what to do but you are a human too. You can be so tired at the end of some days that when you get home, you just want to vegetate at home with a good show and not talk to anybody.
3) Can you make money teaching yoga?
A teacher's income is often determined by the amount of hours spent teaching. Even teachers who run trainings and seem to earn a lot with less hours teaching put in a lot of work to make those trainings happen. Those hours could well exceed hours the student sees.
I do not know any teacher who makes reasonable or really good income without putting in the work. Like a friend said recently, 钱难赚！Yes, you can make a living but if your goal is to make lots of money, there are other easier ways. If you are willing to work hard, a reasonably comfortable lifestyle is possible.
4) Must you know how to do all the poses?
I wish I knew how to do all the poses! Truth is, nobody knows how to do ALL the poses. The asana practice has evolved to thousands of poses. It is not humanly possible to expect someone to know all of it. Everyone's body is different too so there will be some poses that will be impossible for some bodies no matter how long you practice but there are also many poses that will come with time.
You do need to have practiced for a while before attending training but the most important thing is you have the heart to learn more and serve others through teaching. There will be a different teacher for a student at different stage of their practice. Your teaching may be different from other teachers and there will be students out there who will appreciate what you offer. Asana is but just a very small part of the overall system of Yoga.
Wow it sounds terrible to teach so why teach?
Because if you love the practice and want to deepen your practice, teacher training is a good way of understanding your practice more. I often hear of people saying they didn't go to training intending to teach but end up feeling so enthusiastic about teaching that they can't wait to start when they finish training.
Because if you dislike working in stuffy rooms with recycled air-con air like me, being on the move and teaching in wide spaces will be a godsend.
Because you do have some control over how you would like to design your day and how you would like to spend your time. There will be trade-offs for every decision but you will be the one who gets to decide.
Because teaching does remind you of the need to stay healthy in all areas of life.
Because if you find joy in seeing others light up and smile at the end of class, watching others grow in their practice before your eyes or helping others with alleviating their pains and aches, the job satisfaction of teaching is priceless. You may not save the world but you have a real opportunity to make a real difference in someone's life. It's the thing that keeps many teachers going.
If you love what your teacher did, tell them.You can't imagine how encouraging it is for a teacher.
About Yoga Teacher Trainings...
Whether you decide to teach eventually is secondary but if you love the practice and are thinking of taking the next step, do it. You will learn so much more about the practice and most importantly, yourself.
In a teacher training, you will learn a lot about poses amongst many other things and you may take your practice further but to me, one of the most important components of a teacher training is learning how to teach.
Yoga Inc is having their 3rd round of 200 hour Teacher Training in July this year.
Something I really like about how they structured the program is that participants are given lots of opportunity to teach early in the program. I do hear of people attending training being fed with lots of information but not actually taught how to teach. Both the trainers, Christine and Jing, are friendly, supportive teachers and Yoga Inc is a casual and friendly environment to undertake this intensive program.
A 200 hour certification is merely the first step.
You leave a 200 hour training having learnt a lot, but also learning how much more you don't know.
The journey of learning will be a long one but if the thought of doing a teacher training has crossed your mind, it probably already means you have the heart to learn and perhaps, the heart to serve.
And that is enough :)
About the author
Catherine is a teacher at Yoga Inc and she did not receive any bribes to write this article.
(She's waiting to be bribed * hint *)