Have you ever wondered if you could benefit from more concrete definitions of your professional duties, aspects such as pay and scheduling, and your overall vision for your yoga instructor career? In a prior post, I started to describe how we can write out our own “Job Descriptions” - to help reach further clarity about where we now stand, and how to get to where we want to, as instructors. Also included in typical job descriptions are pay-rate and work structure (such as part-time, full-time, day or nights/weekends, et cetera). When can and can’t you teach? Do you have another daytime job, and teach on weekends for extra income and fulfillment? Do you teach dance, other fitness forms, or carry out some other professional endeavor at night?
Being clear to yourself about when works the best for you to teach yoga, as well as perform other supportive duties (such as class planning and your own personal practice), can help you to more efficiently and successfully seek instruction opportunities. You will also be ready to quickly and easily answer questions such as: “Can you teach 7:30 Wednesday nights?” Next, be clear on your pay. Perhaps for certain entities, you have a very specific, non-negotiable hourly rate. For others, maybe you can operate on a sliding-scale, “pay-what-you-can” model (as a charitable act).
Next, consider a strategic plan for your yoga instruction career. What, where, and who do you really want to be teaching? Retreats in tropical climates? Pre-schoolers? Advanced practitioners in elite studios? Perhaps you’re not quite sure of where, who, and what you want to be teaching – you just love teaching. That attitude of openness has value in itself. Perhaps with time you’ll discover what type of teaching is right for you, and you can follow that path. Without a clear idea of what it is you want as an instructor, however, it is more difficult to actively engage with the appropriate entities in order to build your teaching.
In any case, analyzing how the skills you have compare to the skills you will need in your desired work (back to that list of skills and knowledge that you wrote before) can help you to be realistic about the nature of your work ahead to get there. For instance, are you skilled at physical cueing but sometimes struggle to be clear and helpful with your verbal guidance? Capitalize on your strengths, and diligently work to improve upon your growth areas. The type of yoga and students you want to teach certainly matters here; skill at subtle physical cueing is most often not needed to teach children (especially in environments wherein touch is not legally permitted), but energy and a sense of creative fun certainly are! Engaging with a knowledgeable and approachable mentor, independent study, seeking students’ feedback, and self-evaluation (written or mental) can all help in those efforts to enhance the skills you need to teach where, what, and who you want.
Teaching skills in themselves do not secure teaching positions; you’ll need to work at the self-marketing/branding end of it as well. Work on your “elevator” speech (the thirty second summary of your professional interests and offerings, ready for whenever you might meet that important “someone”), resume, social media presence, and professional website. If you are interested in teaching at elite gyms/health clubs and studios, politely reach out and ask about auditioning opportunities. Gradually working into a teaching position from doing work-exchange (working for the studio in exchange for free classes) is also sometimes possible. It can be a “faux-pas” to some owners of such institutions to “cold-call” directly to ask about open teaching positions. Asking if there are auditions and/or work-exchange programs, however, is most often welcome. Try to be accountable to yourself that such actions are happening as necessary - such as through keeping a log of “to-do”, when each effort gets accomplished and the initial result, and follow-up actions.
Find a system that works for you, and – in the midst of hectic modern life – do your best to stick with it. Yes, it often takes time and patience to get where we want to be as yoga instructors – but, as yoga can teach us, it’s about the journey rather than the destination. Your efforts at more clearly defining who you are as an instructor, and consequently where you’d like to be, will make wherever you might arrive all the more fulfilling. Yoga also teaches us to seek our life’s purpose, our dharma, and to stay as consistently engaged with it as possible once we have found it. In the twenty-first century, that involves resumes, auditions, and LinkedIn pages. The generous and open spirit of our work as instructors, however, can be the same as yogis have always put forth. I wish you the best on your paths, dear readers. Namaste!
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