Friendly Warning: Serious topic ahead!
While I love to write about the art of teaching yoga, I believe it's helpful to foster frank conversations about all aspects of teaching. So with that in mind, here goes!
I received a packet in the mail today from Yoga Alliance with an opportunity to begin saving for my retirement. While I have my own IRA (a carry over from my corporate career), it was a reminder of how important this is for everyone in our field to consider. And planning for our financial future is particularly relevant for those of us who, like myself, work independently (rather than own a studio). Our lifestyle: We work, we get paid; We don’t work, we don’t get paid.
Below are 11 aspects of your teaching career to consider:
I'm approaching these questions with an eye to the next 5 to 10 years but your time frame may vary, depending upon your age, experience, economic situation, and your passion for teaching.
Do you have the physical stamina to teach long term? If you take your best revenue week ever thus far and multiply that by 52 weeks, is that reasonable annual revenue for the long term? Is your current lifestyle (including factors such as income, time off, ability to take vacation, ability to save money, sleep schedule, and general lifestyle) something you envision for the long term? Are you excited by what your future holds as a yoga teacher? If something is missing in your current career path, do you have a plan to attain it? Is it important that you have opportunities for professional growth? Do you have them now and do you believe you'll continue to have those for the long term? If you were injured and could not teach yoga, do you have a plan to cover your expenses in the short term until you could find something else? If you were to decide that teaching yoga was not working, do you have an idea of what else you might do and a plan to secure a job in that field? Are you able to accumulate an immediate safety net (cash on hand covering expenses for at least six months)? Are you able to save for retirement? Do you enjoy teaching yoga and can you envision doing it for the long term?
Having read this, what’s your reaction?
Take stock of not only your thoughts, but close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and sit with these questions and any reaction in your body they may have provoked. For many of us, we spend so much time rushing from job to job, and trying to secure new work that we don’t often stop and ask these broader questions.
The place to begin is with honesty. Take time to evaluate your career according to these factors as well as any others you feel are relevant to you. Be open-minded to other models: keeping things as they are, working on a new path, teaching part-time working, or any other arrangement you might see fit.
The challenge is to stay awake and aware, just as you want to be when you’re on your mat.