Teaching yoga: are you paying for the privilege?

Here’s a sobering fact:

Most qualified yoga teachers earn less than $25,000 per year from their teaching.

Some – if they actually calculated exactly what time and the often “overlooked” costs of their teaching are, they are almost paying for the privilege of being a yoga teacher!

In which case, it’s not a career; it’s not even a job - it’s an expensive hobby!

One of my favourite quotes from an entrepreneurial support organisation FoundR is this:

Treat your yoga business like a business and it will pay you like a business.
Treat your yoga business like a hobby and it will COST you like a hobby.

And in some cases, they are getting burned out, trying to teach as many classes as they can to make ends meet; dashing round like headless chickens and feeling anything but yogic calm.

So if you’re out there teaching because you wanted to generate some additional income, let me ask you 4 important questions:

  1. How much income have you generated from teaching yoga over the last 6 months?

  2. Over the last 6 months, what costs have you incurred in order to be able to teach?

  3. When you take the costs away from how much income you generated, how much money (profit) is left?

  4. Now add up the hours you have taught and divide that into the answer to number 3 – and tell me, how much does that mean you’ve been paid per hour for your teaching?

I hope it’s more than £10 per hour!!

I hope the answer is something you feel is OK?

The truth is, I’ve coached yoga teachers through this process and they’ve begun to realise that they’re actually kidding themselves: that the bottom line is that this is NOT a business, it is an expensive hobby. That they could probably earn more working at McDonalds.

If you are CHOOSING to make your yoga teaching a hobby (expensive or not!) there’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of people have hobbies which cost a lot of money – but it brings them pleasure.

But if you were into teaching yoga because you hoped it would actually help you pay the bills, you totally need to change your mindset!

I’ve seen teachers ignore their petrol costs; forget about their insurance; their monthly subscription to Om magazine; the new mat they bought or other props for students; their training costs; their clothing; the candles, tea or incense sticks they buy for their classes – their props….the list goes on!

But these costs add up! They are all part of what it costs you to be a yoga teacher.

And if you don’t take them into account – you ARE kidding yourself about what your teaching is generating. 

AND you’re feeding the tax man money which you could claim!

Don’t be an ostrich!

Don’t be unprofessional.

Most of all – don’t pretend a hobby is a business!

3 tips if you want to be more business-like:

  1. Set up a proper accounting system immediately if you haven’t already. I’m NOT a fan of paper based accounting for anyone serious about actually making yoga teaching a career.  Seriously, invest in a good software system such as Sage or QuickBooks – and do your books at least once a month.Not only does this help you stay on top of the money side of your business, it provides absolutely invaluable feedback, instantly, on how you’re doing in terms of making a profit.No serious career or business person would ignore this.

  2. Keep EVERY receipt. From now on, keep absolutely every receipt for anything you buy which is related to your doing your job. Note your mileage – and even if you’re working for a gym work out how much it’s costing you based on what your tax man would allow you for mileage in any other role.No matter if it’s just a couple of pounds/dollars – add it to the bookkeeping.

  3. Make a date with your accounts once a month at least! What’s your hourly rate turning out to be? Is your income growing, staying static or on a downward spiral? What costs might you be able to reduce? By looking at the state of your finances, it can help you plan for the future. Maybe you need to look at increasing prices to students? Maybe you need to reduce costs elsewhere? Which parts of your business are showing real promise, where you might expand and which might you need to change or even exe because they’re simply draining income?

This is valuable information. No serious, professional business could survive and thrive on anything less.

So which camp are you in?

Expensive hobby………………….or professional yoga business?   

Actions you can take:

  • Check out these other articles on my blog which might be helpful around this whole topic of running a smooth business: Running a smooth business
  • Tell us what your experience has been in terms of staying on top of the money side of your yoga teaching.
  • Join our FB group; share your thoughts on this article and your own experience and get additional tips and answers to any questions you have on this or any topic  around building your yoga business and developing your yoga career.

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