In Part 1 we looked at how to transition from yoga teacher training to teaching regular classes at a studio. The next step is going from teaching a few classes a week to teaching full time.
If you are thinking about opening your own yoga studio, I would encourage you to spend some time teaching regularly in an already-established studio first. The primary reason is that it will allow you time to sharpen your teaching skills without having to spend the time, energy, and money that it takes to open up a new business. The secondary reason is so that you can observe, and learn about what it takes to actually run a successful studio before you decide to open your own.
If you are thinking about opening your own yoga studio, I would encourage you to spend some time teaching regularly in an already-established studio first.
Besides, you don’t have to own a studio to be a full-time yoga teacher. What you must be able to do to be a full-time teacher is to create a classroom experience that people are seeking. Each time I meet a new student, I talk to them about what they are looking to achieve through their practice. This gives me some insight into what they want, and I can then offer them some guidance as to how they can achieve their goals.
As a full-time teacher you will see different kinds of students, and it’s helpful to identify what kind of student someone is: There are students who will show up occasionally, there are students who will come to classes regularly, and there are students who will sign up for nearly everything that you offer (your "core students"). If you offer workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, or other higher-level programs, invite your core students first. They are the most likely to sign up, and your personal invitation can go a long way. Next, talk to your students who show up regularly but don’t necessarily sign up for everything. By spending some time with them you will likely learn more about who they are and what they're looking for. You may be able to offer something that will bring them to their next step in practice. You may even find that bringing some of these committed but not core students into a workshop or other offering may turn them into core students! And don’t forget about the student who isn’t very consistent. This student is often the one who is looking for more guidance but doesn’t know how to ask. Take a few minutes to meet with them to see how their practice is going, and to find out what their goals are.
As a full-time teacher, having different programs to offer—from open classes to workshops and retreats to in-depth study programs—is a great way to get to know your students and to grow your new business. Many teachers start out by trying to teach a lot of classes every week; however, teaching thirty classes while maintaining your own practice and wellness disciplines is extremely challenging! By offering other programs outside of regular classes you can teach fewer hours per week, offer students more depth, and make more income.
Remember, the key concept here is that you start to think of yourself as a guide or director for your students. You can be deliberate about directing students and growing your business whether you own a studio or not. However, if you're working in a studio that you don’t own it's important to be respectful of the studio owner. When you start at a studio be clear with the owner about what your intentions are for your business. Ask them if it is okay for you to collect contact information from students to start building your list. You can also ask if advertising other programs that you offer outside the studio is acceptable. If you find that teaching in a particular studio is stunting your growth, then it might be time to switch studios or look at opening your own. However, that is a topic for another article! For now, consider the next step you wish to take on the path to becoming a successful full-time teacher and start there.