Landing Your First Teaching Gig

         

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You just received your Yoga Alliance “Registered Yoga Teacher” card in the mail, you’ve contracted for liability insurance and you are ready to start teaching yoga classes: Congratulations! Landing your first gig as a yoga teacher can present the usual novice conundrums, such as how do you get experience without having it, how to provide references for a job you haven’t yet held and how to grow your practice.

The same rules of networking apply to becoming a yoga teacher, even if it seems odd at first. While it would be sweet to be invited to teach just because you’re bursting with passion to do so, a successful yoga teacher needs to pound some virtual pavement and put in real dues.  The first rule is to show up; attend yoga classes and conferences, meet people, learn names and ask for contact information and follow up with email afterward. Meeting for chai before your yoga classes is a great way to both get to know the community and to become known as a yoga teacher. Don’t be shy to state your desire to teach yoga.

This one is simple, but often overlooked: have a yoga teacher resume. Seem too calculating? Thoughtful would be another way to look at it, and a helpful one. You have experience in something before teaching yoga that gave you skills for managing yoga classes or public speaking, or maybe just customer service or a knowledge of anatomy. Whatever it is you bring to the table, highlight it with a one page yoga teacher resume. Include not only your teacher training, but any yoga teacher with whom you’ve regularly practiced and any academic coursework that’s applicable whether Eastern Religious studies or physiolo.

Create opportunities by let your teachers know of your search. Not only will they likely keep their ears open for opportunities to teach yoga classes, they may offer you a chance to assist in their yoga classes so you get some experience under your belt or even call upon you to substitute. Be willing and available to sub for a yoga teacher even at the last minute if your lifestyle allows. A last minute call to teach a couple of yoga classes can induce quite a heart flutter, but can also be your ticket to shine.

Gain experience by making experiences. Senior and community centers often host free yoga classes and are ecstatic for community volunteers. This affords you a platform for your yoga classes in an environment of service. These yoga classes are often beginner level, and paradoxically more challenging in some ways than teaching more experienced students at a studio. Take your yoga classes slowly and provide a thorough grounding in basic principles every time; this will serve you well in creating your style and your students in providing them safety and understanding. You may even emerge with an unexpected specialty or passion, such as chair yoga, prenatal yoga or mommy and me yoga classes.

Don’t overlook your local gym as a place to teach your yoga classes. While gyms are usually the lowest paying gigs, they can be relatively easy to land and expose you to a large cross section of students who may then follow you to your studio yoga classes or engage you for private instruction. Once you become a yoga teacher at a studio, you likely will have to sign non-compete clauses, meaning that if you change locations you can’t solicit students who learned of you through the studio to come to your new location. While seemingly onerous, the resources put into recruiting by studios warrant this. But your students from your gym yoga classes become a part of your database that is portable no matter where you go.

Consider your workplace and other associations as well. Is there a large conference room you can clear out at night, after hours or over lunch? If you can find the room and schedule an introductory yoga class, you are likely to create a following for your yoga classes right there where you already know people, people who have seen the transformative effect that yoga has had on you.

By creatively interpreting your experience, speaking up to people you know about your intentions and being willing to teach your yoga classes in what might seem like non-traditional locations you can create a thriving teaching practice and discover your own flexibility and acumen at the same time.


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