Yoga teachers help their students connect more deeply with their own bodies and breath through a series of yoga poses. As a professional yogi, you’ll safely guide students of all ages and abilities on a journey towards greater strength and flexibility, both on and off the mat. Beyond that, you’ll deepen your own yoga practice both by learning how to move step-by-step into Wild Thing and using breathwork to develop mindfulness. So how to become a yoga instructor? In this short guide, we’ll go over the steps to leading your first yoga class and the business basics that are vital for success in your new career in the yoga studio.
Plan your first sequence
Even if you’re a long-time yoga student, it can be baffling to understand how instructors come up with the creative sequences that leave you feeling relaxed after each and every class. The first step on your journey is understanding how to gain the experience to confidently teach yoga to anyone, from beginners to advanced students. This includes:
- Completing a 200-hour yoga instructor training and choosing a specialty
- Gaining teaching experience and creating a demo class
- Marketing your services
- Making your business legal
- Protecting your yoga business
Next, we’ll go over each of these steps in more detail.
Complete your yoga teacher training
While you don’t technically need a license for teaching yoga, most studios and clients expect teachers to be Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs) with Yoga Alliance.1 To apply as an RYT, you’ll need to complete at least a 200-hour training course with a Registered Yoga School (RYS). Those who want to teach advanced classes and earn a higher salary may pursue 300 or 500 hours of training. You have several options for finding an RYS:
- Browse local studios in your area, many of which likely offer programs that last from a few months to a year.
- Find an online teacher training program that fits your schedule.
- Travel for an intensive program that allows you to quickly complete yoga certification in anywhere from ten days to a month.
Keep in mind that you must learn to cue poses for students with varied experience, offer modifications for injuries and tailor classes for private clients. Before you choose a training program, research the teachers leading it. Most studios will talk to you about their syllabus—and whether they teach anatomy—if you reach out. It’s also important to consider the tradition and lineage of prospective training programs. Yoga teacher training usually costs $1,000-$5,000, so it’s important to invest your money in a program that can prepare you to teach the specific kind of yoga practice you plan to specialize in teaching.2
- If you prefer gentle and restorative yoga, it won’t make much sense to do a power vinyasa training that would focus on intense, fast-paced classes.
- Likewise, if your true passion is aerial yoga, don’t waste your time on a hot yoga training.
Once you’ve found a yoga instructor certification program that fits your schedule and meets your goals, you’re well on the path towards becoming a yoga teacher!
Practice teaching & market your services
Hopefully, your yoga teacher certification program provides you the opportunity to teach classes. But you’ll likely want as much experience as you can get before you start offering your services. Most studios ask prospective teachers to teach a demo class as a kind of audition. Beyond that, you’ll want to feel 100% confident when you walk into a room of strangers or begin addressing a private client’s needs 1-on-1. Try out the following:
Teach friends and family. If they’re complete beginners, that’s even better! You’ll have the opportunity to make sure your language is crystal-clear.
Teach by-donation. Everyone loves a free class. Try offering a single class or a month-long themed series on Zoom or YouTube, out of your living room, or at the studio where you did your training.
Once you’re ready to teach, contact local studios to set up demo classes. Hopefully, you’ll get a few offers right away. You might begin as a substitute teacher and work up to leading your own regular class. Yoga studios usually pay a base salary per hour with additional income for each student after a specific class size. As you get experience teaching group classes, you’ll grow your class size and start to connect with individual clients who may be willing to pay a higher price for private sessions. Your location, experience, reputation, and type of classes can all impact how much you can make as a yoga teacher.
Once the money is flowing in, make sure you have a plan for keeping track of it! From there, you’ll want to:
Create a website. As you create traction for your yoga business, people are going to want to find your platform. That’s why it’s important that you have a website. If the prospect of creating one is daunting, know that there are tons of free website builders available that have preset templates for you to use.
Set up your online profiles. You better believe your pupils are going to look you up on social media! If you already have a personal account on Instagram or Facebook, consider leveraging your following to follow your new “professional” profiles.
Make sure your business is legal
As we’ve already discussed, there are no specific licensure requirements for yoga teachers. But while yoga is loosely regulated, income from yoga teaching is another matter. You’ll need to report all income from your teaching on your tax returns.
- If you’re teaching at a studio, they may give you a 1099 form at the end of the year.
- If you’re personally taking payment, carefully record all income, whether it’s via cash, check, app, online transfer or any other platform.
While you can add 1099 and freelance income to your regular tax return, some yoga teachers create Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) to keep better track of their teaching income. Once you’ve formed an LLC, you can open a separate business bank account for your income from yoga.
Protect your business
When you’re offered your first job at a studio, you’ll probably be required to take out general liability insurance. Even though yoga studios have insurance, coverage might not extend to teachers.
This is even more important if you’re not teaching in a studio. When you’re teaching yoga classes in your home, online, or in a rental space, you take on significant liability.
We know yoga is all about peace and calm, but there’s a lot that could go wrong.
Many yoga teachers give hands-on adjustments. Should a client claim your adjustment led to neck pain, they could sue you for bodily injury and the cost of their physical therapy (even if it was due to a pre-existing condition). You burn incense and light candles to relax your clients. Should you singe a client’s carpet during a private session in their home, they could sue you for property damage.
Yoga Teacher Insurance via Thimble is designed to provide coverage and legal defense for claims of bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage.
Fast and flexible, our Yoga Teacher Insurance is available by the hour, day, or month so that you can take out coverage exactly when you need it. And if you choose a monthly policy, it’ll come equipped with our Business Equipment Protection insurance, an optional add-on that helps protect your yoga equipment as you travel between gyms and studios.
Master your flow & become a yoga teacher
Now you’re ready to strike a warrior pose and embark on a career as a yoga teacher. As a yogi, you know that yoga isn’t about end-goals, but the discoveries you make along the way. At the same time, you want to make a profit and support your lifestyle! To make sure you start out on the right path, take the following steps:
- Complete your 200-hour training and register with Yoga Alliance
- Hone your teaching skills and begin to market your services
- Make a plan for keeping track of income and filing taxes
- Cover your general and professional liability with insurance
From there, use the knowledge from your training to practice deep listening and make adjustments when needed. We have no doubt that you’ll soon have a business that’s as strong and flexible as you are!