Recently, I wrote an article called "14 Tips for Starting Your own Yoga Business." In it, I outlined some of the things to consider when you start off as a "yogi-preneur." While it didn't necessarily speak to the set up of the business as full time or part time, the implication was that it’d be full time.
The idea of teaching yoga full time, when you’re working in the corporate world, can be so attractive and tempting. You’re dealing with the corporate grind, loving yoga as a student, you’ve gone to a yoga teacher training and you want to take the leap. You may look at the teachers that are teaching full time and think, “I want that life!” I had that feeling when I was working in the corporate world and I was trying to figure out how to transition to a full time teaching job. I looked at all the teachers I met with admiration and envy. I also had no idea what was involved in teaching full time and I made a lot of assumptions about their lifestyle. This can be an easy trap to fall into and can lead you astray when it comes to making a decision that is that is both true to your heart and your practical side as well.
So, one idea is that you start out teaching part time. You keep your regular job and add a class or two to your weekly schedule. How will you fit this in, you wonder? You’d be amazed how you make the time for something you love. And, once you start doing it and loving it, the other things in your life will shift to accommodate your new passion.
What are some good reasons to teach yoga part time?
1. Financial: When you’re teaching yoga part time, you usually (might not) have to depend on the income. This can free you up to teach where you want, when you want, without any sense of having to fill your schedule with the first opportunities that arise. You also will have more stability in your financial life so you can continue to meet your obligations.
2. A chance to gain experience: Teaching yoga part time can give you the time to gain some experience before (and if) you choose to teach full time. When you’re just starting out, you may feel like while you learned the mechanics of teaching in training, you are still trying to manage the classroom and all that goes along with that. While you teach part time, you can still attend trainings, read, meet with other teachers and luxuriate in the joys of learning something new.
3. Less impact from fluctuations in your teaching schedule: As a yoga teacher, sometimes things shift in your schedule when you least expect it. This may not be a reflection on you, but may be for reasons completely out of your control. If you teach in a studio, there may be changes in the schedule that affect your classes. If you’re teaching in a school, the classes may end when the school year ends. If you’re teaching private students, sessions can be canceled for illness or travel. This is why it’s critical to have a pipeline of opportunities and always be networking so you can try to fill in openings as they arise. When you’re teaching part time, you’ve got a little insulation from these variations.
4. Health Insurance: One of the practical considerations when teaching full time is health insurance. As a teacher, you will most likely not receive health insurance from any of the employers you work with so if you’re not on someone else’s policy, you’ll need to get it for yourself (if you indeed want health insurance). Teaching part time will allow you to maintain your coverage.
5. A chance to “try-on” teaching to see if it’s a lifestyle for you: Making the shift from working full time in a corporate-type job to working independently as a yoga teacher can be big change. Finding teaching gigs, figuring out how best to spend your non-teaching time, managing the administrative aspects, including taxes, marketing, scheduling, correspondence and program development may not be your strong suits. In your part time role, you can start to manage these things a little bit and see how you do.
6. A way to feed your dharma while you’re in the corporate world: If you feel that teaching yoga is your true calling, then you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice by denying yourself a chance to try it out. Also, if you’re frustrated in your regular job, one of the best ways to shift from that negativity is to do something you love. Feeding your true passion will allow you to head into your regular job feeling like you’re investing in yourself too; not just giving away all your energy to something you don’t love.
When you realize you want to start teaching, you usually want to start teaching right away. But recognize that just as you’ll have your whole life to practice yoga, you’ll have your life to cultivate your skills as a teacher too. It may not be a straight line for you from working corporate to teaching yoga but whatever path you take will be filled with lessons and wisdom you can bring to your teaching.