How To Get That Dream Job in Yoga
Dear Yogi Muse:I own a yoga studio that is well established in my community. I am bombarded with new students asking me if I’m hiring. As a studio owner, my first question is are you registered with Yoga Alliance, and if so, what are you rated? My second question is where did you do your training? You cannot believe how often the applicant does not answer these questions directly. Please post some guidelines on how yoga teachers should apply for a job so we can stop wasting everyone’s time.Over it Dear Over it,Even though yoga is a business just like any other, some yogis don’t know how to get started on their career. And the spring is often when many new teachers emerge from their winter YTTs, and not all YTTs include business training with their certificate. So I will try to shed some light on how to become an uber-famous yoga teacher, or at least an employed one.How to get your dream job, or at least be an employed yogi.
- Yogis need to be professional. That means you want to arrive at a potential employer with a resume in hand and an idea of how you can fit in with the studio. Employers want to know how long you’ve been teaching, what your style is, and see some recommendations and references. Get this together before you arrive.
- Get rated and get registered. I sound like a broken record, but if you want to be taken seriously, then you should seriously register with Yoga Alliance. It’s the only way for employers and studios to know that you have taken a legitimate yoga training.
- Be clear about your offering. When I ask teachers what they teach, I cannot tell you how many times I hear something like, “I help people get in touch with their inner spirit animal.” So is that fast or slow? Studios know their market. They know their needs. Figure out what you want to teach, and to what kind of student, so the studio will know if you are a fit or if you fill a need.
- Research your studio. Getting any kind of job is tough, but every employer wants to know that you’ve chosen them for a reason. Why do you want to be there? You could say, “I know you serve a diverse population, and that is my specialty.” Or whatever the reason may be.
- Get involved. Most studios hire from within. Start attending classes and workshops, ask teachers if you can assist them, and volunteer for the studio’s community events. It is easier to get hired if you are active with the studio. By the way, taking one class and asking for a job is not often seen as being part of a community.
- What can you do for them? We know you want a job. But what you can do for the studio? Can you work undesirable shifts? Can you sub? Can you provide some marketing or administrative support? Can you bring connections to a new student base? Make yourself indispensable and you will get a job.
- Create a resume. Some studios don’t use this, and others rely on it quite a bit. Somehow, you want to give a prospective employer an idea of who you are, your background, experience and interests. In addition to the normal resume things, a yoga resume would list your teachers, influences, where you’ve done trainings, and where you’ve taught. If you haven’t taught yet, then mention how many years you’ve been studying and detail the trainings you’ve taken. Include some teachers as references too. I give examples of a brief Yoga Bio in my book, Theme Weaver.
- Make a website. Hello? It’s 2015. My drycleaner has a website. A website is where the studio can find out more about you, see your poses, read your blog or thoughts on the practice, etc. In addition to a website and a resume, make a business card. When someone wants to find you, they are not going to get in touch with your divine light. They are going to look on the internet.
- Prepare your audition. Most studios will ask a prospective teacher to audition. This might be to teach an entire class, or join in a round-robin segment. Either way, have your favorite sequence ready. If you have to teach a given sequence, then create a theme that will blow them away. You want to teach in a way that is unique, authentic, inspiring and most importantly, unforgettable.
- Don’t be a know it all. New teachers often make the mistake of thinking they need to know it all. Studios would much rather see a teacher who wants to learn it all. Don’t worry if you can’t do every pose. Teach what you know for now, and your students will grow along with you.
- Don’t correct your employer. If you are visiting a studio and taking a class, please do not correct your prospective employer/teacher in front of students. If you are a student in the room, the most impressive thing you can do is to be a student and learn what you can. Great students make great teachers. Great teachers show respect to other teachers. Very rarely will a teacher who is criticized by a student, turn around and hire that student. As in, never.
- Go back to school. Yup. A 200 hour YTT is just the beginning of a yoga education. If you are struggling to find a job, or having difficulty getting to the next level, then find a training or a workshop that is of interest. Great teachers never stop learning. Your knowledge will be reflected in your classes as well.
- To be big, act big. All it takes to teach at most yoga festivals is often a request. If you want to be a festival teacher, apply. If you want to teach on videos, put one up on YouTube. If you want to travel teach, then contact every studio you know and ask if you can do a workshop. It might not really be this easy, but you’ll never know until you try. I do know that whining doesn’t get you there.
- Think outside the box. I started by teaching my friends in their living rooms. From there, I taught in company lunchrooms for $5 a head. Finally I got a call from a studio and they offered me an absolutely terrible timeslot. I took it with gratitude! All experience counts and eventually you will get the time slot you want at the studio of your dreams.
There are only two mistakes, the Buddha tells us. One is to not begin. The other is to not to go far enough. Good luck and never, ever give up.Michelle Marchildon is The Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. You can find her writing on Elephant Journal, Mantra Yoga and Health Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.