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Yoga is growing in popularity across the world. Traditional yoga requires daily practice and commitment to the pursuit of enlightenment. Today, yoga is available to everyone regardless of age, fitness level, or skill. The benefits of quiet meditation and purposeful stretches apply to weightlifters, athletes, weekend warriors, and newbies to fitness alike.
There are many types of yoga classes available. Styles like Bikram yoga, hot yoga, restorative yoga (yin), and ashtanga yoga are popular today. Each style uses a series of yoga poses and a good teacher has adjustments for any level of student.
There are many places a yoga instructor can teach yoga class: at a gym, community center, schools, yoga studio, or even as part of sports or fitness training. Fitness trainers and strength and conditioning coaches are adding yoga poses into their training program to promote flexibility and for the mental health benefits of yoga practice.
If you're a personal trainer looking to add yoga to your services, check out this informative ISSA blog post: Can a Personal Trainer Teach Yoga? What You Need to Know!
Yoga retreats are emerging in popularity, as are hospitality destinations like resorts, hotels, cruise lines, and amusement parks that offer fitness and yoga classes to guests.
Many big box gyms have fitness studios that offer a wide range of classes daily, from indoor cycling to kickboxing and yoga class. Small yoga-specific studios are becoming more common as well. Studios like Corepower Yoga and The Foundry may offer two or three styles of yoga in a small group class.
A large part of being a yoga instructor is teaching the yoga poses to students. An instructor is responsible for setting up the room for class or a private session, planning the flow of the class, choosing appropriate music, and making adjustments or progressions and regressions for students as needed. Adjustments must be made in a calm, informative, and inclusive manner with an understanding that every student is in a different place in their yoga practice.
Some styles of yoga require props like blankets, bolsters, straps, and blocks. An instructor must be well versed in the use of these props and when to introduce them if needed. A good teacher can use props to make students feel included, successful, and comfortable as they flow through class.
There is great flexibility in being a yoga instructor. Some choose to teach full time while others do it as a hobby or for extra cash. The overall experience of a teacher will depend on where they teach yoga. Yoga teachers that work with private clients in their home or at a studio will work one-on-one. They can really get to know their student and deepen their practice with tailored asanas.
Those who are teaching yoga in a small group regardless of location will have to become well versed in verbal cueing. Physical adjustments are possible, but with a group, they may be more challenging. Group yoga teachers will need a keen eye to spot opportunities for adjustments and when they can progress or regress their flow between postures. It will be based on how the class is performing.
A good teacher for yoga is someone with patience, an observant eye, and an open mind. Most yoga instructors also practice daily or as much as possible. This keeps them in touch with what they teach, but also allows them to view yoga practice from the perspective of the student. Receiving verbal and physical adjustments, the flow of class, and the overall experience are very different from the student's perspective.
A great teacher will have an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. Understanding how the body moves and the musculature involved in each yoga posture will help them when making adjustments and helping students move into and out of poses with minimal injury risk.
A good instructor will also have the appropriate education and constantly be striving to improve their own practice. Yoga training doesn't end with an initial credential. Yoga techniques are always evolving and a great yoga teacher will have a pulse on it.
The annual yoga instructor salary average is $62,526, according to ZipRecruiter. The number of hours spent teaching and where a yoga instructor teaches accounts for the large range of pay.
With the growing popularity of yoga practice combined with the massive fitness industry, growth in yoga teacher jobs is increasing at a rate of 13 percent—much higher than most other trades. The need is there!
To become a yoga instructor, specific education is required. An acceptable yoga teacher program can be completed at home as a certification through certification agencies like ISSA! Our newly updated Certified Yoga Instructor course is complete with the anatomy, physiology, class preparation, cueing and communication, and posture content that you'll need to step on to the mat with confidence.
Other programs, like Yoga Alliance, offer a 200-hour competency-based yoga school. This curriculum requires no less than 200 classroom hours in anatomy and physiology, yoga techniques, yoga history and philosophy, and teaching methodologies. A minimum 10-hour practicum is also a part of this program. Most of the hours—75 hours—are spent learning yoga Asana, or yoga poses, meditation, and breathing techniques as this is the foundation of a yoga practice.
If you're wondering which is best, a certification or an hour-based program, the answer is: it depends. For an instructor, for example, working at Corepower yoga, they may require one program or another. For a yoga teacher teaching one-on-one or private sessions, they may not have a requirement and can choose the program that best suits their learning style and budget. A certification course generally costs around $800 while yoga school can run $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the location. Learn more about the best certifications to become a yoga instructor here!
So, now you know what is involved in being a yoga instructor. It's not an easy gig. However, there are many benefits to getting educated and becoming an instructor.
Many yoga instructors will tell you it is rewarding to help others as they work on their practice. Instructors get to immerse themselves into a yoga community that involves more than just teaching yoga classes. The philosophies of yoga promote introspection and collaboration, so the relationships one can build can last a lifetime!
An instructor can also work on their own practice while helping others. They can learn more about the body and how it works as one. Instructors will build confidence and social skills while running classes and interacting with students.
Yoga instructors have a huge opportunity to expand their knowledge and what they can offer to their students. If you are already credentialed or in the process of it and have not considered Corrective Exercise, do it now! Corrective exercise helps to identify the muscle imbalances in the body that keep it from moving properly. Like when a student can't fully express a posture. There is generally muscle that is overactive or tight and, perhaps, a weak or underactive muscle that needs to be addressed.
Nutrition is also a great additional credential. Many students will have some troubles with their dietary patterns and a yoga instructor can build a relationship of trust to, with the right knowledge, be able to help them. After all, one of the yoga philosophies encourages healthy, whole eating and only taking in what we need.
Finally, the hours are great! Flexibility is key to a balanced lifestyle! Things come up and life happens. Instructors can often call for a substitute teacher if they are unable to teach their class and, on the other hand, they can also sub for other instructors to grab more hours. Classes are often offered throughout the day and on evenings and weekends. Private yoga teachers have the option to make their own schedule as well.
There can be some challenges when teaching yoga. While there aren't many, they are important to point out.
When getting into any kind of fitness career, one must understand that they are the product. There is a degree of marketing that fitness professionals must do to promote their practice and fill their classes. This can mean they are "on" and representing 24/7. There are also usually administrative tasks that need to be done—phone calls, scheduling, grassroots marketing, or cleaning. These are not the fun parts of teaching, but they are required to keep clients happy and coming back!
For instructors who teach in high-capacity studios, it can be disappointing when only a few people show up to a class intended for 20 or more students. Try not to take it personally! Regardless of class size, it is the instructor's job to show up and teach with their full energy, intention, and attention.
Some instructors can teach at multiple studios or locations. Of course, there is a cost to driving all over town several times a day or each week. Seek the assistance of a tax professional to see if you can write off your mileage! Or make a request with your employer to minimize your travel if possible.
Full-time yoga instructors may be so busy that they can't make time for their own practice. This can be frustrating and may lead to career burnout. Look at the work schedule you have and make sure it is sustainable. And don't forget to schedule in time for you and your own practice! You'll need it!
Working on an hourly or class-by-class basis means that if you don't teach, you probably don't get paid. The same happens for group fitness instructors and personal trainers. That is one major drawback of the fitness industry. To prevent unexpected days off due to illness or injury, again, schedule time off to ensure you are taking care of yourself! Plan ahead as best as possible to plan for days off and ways that you can make up the hours if needed.
Another pitfall to the fitness industry as a whole is the seasonality of it. There are times of the year when things get slow. Really slow. Like the winter holidays and the middle of the summer vacation season. On the flip side, there are times when it is slammed! The New Year and back-to-school season are often pretty busy times for fitness. Manage your class schedule and make sure you plan ahead for the slow seasons.
In the end, yoga is an amazing practice to do and teach. Never doubt your decision to help others on their journey as a fitness professional. Any kind of fitness class can be exhausting to teach, but watching students reach a milestone or a personal goal and being a part of it will energize and motivate the best of us.
There is a balance a yoga instructor must find. One between self-care and teaching others. A balanced yoga teacher will provide the best, most successful classes for their students. Doing so will promote the practice and help it grow.
Start your yoga journey today as a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Instructor with ISSA's Yoga 200 course!
The Yoga Alliance Approved Yoga Teacher Training You’ve Been Looking For.
Yoga Instructor Salary. ZipRecruiter. (2023). Retrieved 1 February 2023, from https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Yoga-Instructor-Salary.
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