© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Yoga Instructor

The Real Poop

You've been working in a high-stress, high-powered corporate job for over ten years. You had kinks in your neck, cramps in your calves, and you were seeing a therapist three times a week. Then a friend suggested you try yoga to "get centered"—and centered is exactly what you got. That was years ago and you haven't skipped a day since, even if it means waking up for a 5:00AM class.

You've found inner peace. You maintain a solid balance both physically and emotionally. You can hold crow pose like nobody's business. Apparently you're actually good at yoga. So why not become a yoga instructor and do it for a living?

Well, Shmoop is here to rain a little reality on your yoga dream parade.

For one, yoga instructors aren't exactly Wall Street stockbrokers. On average they maker around $34,000 a year (source).

It tastes better than it looks. (Source)

While you may be passionate about yoga as a side hobby, will you be equally able to focus on your asana, pranayama, and dhyana when you're having a hard time paying the utilities bill, and can no longer afford your kale-spinach-mango smoothie?

And while it's certainly an achievable goal, becoming a yoga instructor takes commitment. Don't expect to walk into your nearest studio and walk out a master yogi (the closest you'll get to becoming a Master Yoda).

Most practicing yoga instructors need to be certified as Registered Yoga Teachers through Yoga Alliance (source). The minimum credential requires completion of a 200-hour training program. The next rung up the yogi ladder? Five hundred hours of training and 100 hours of teaching experience. And you thought this was just advanced stretching.

This would be a great way to reduce stress, if you didn't have to teach classes for ten hours a day. (Source)

Assuming you dedicate five hours every day to your training, that second-tier certification will take four months. And the certification process ain't cheap; expect to invest upwards of $3,000 into your training program. That may be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of a university degree, but it's still a lot of money when you consider that yoga instructors aren't very well paid and are often overworked.

So you really gotta want this.

While you're expected to dedicate yourself to creating a peaceful and stress-free environment for your clients—your bonsai tree and water fountain budget is up to you—the life of a professional yoga instructor has its little anxieties. While some part-time yoga instructors teach only three to four classes per week, full-time instructors will take on a heavy load of somewhere between twelve and twenty (or more) classes per week.

When you have four classes in one day—at studios, hospitals, or retirement homes, with private clients, etc.—you may be in chair pose a dozen times a day. Just make sure you're including enough rest positions when you need them.

A passion for yoga isn't all you need to teach the stuff. As a yoga instructor, you're classified as a fitness professional. You need to be physically fit, which has more to do with endurance and flexibility than weight and body size. But as a dedicated yogi, you're probably in fine shape. What about the "professional" part?

Your job is about providing a safe space in which others can learn about and safely practice yoga. This means you need to be part-elder and part-gym teacher, a naturally inspirational and motivational guide capable of inspiring and motiving your clients. You have to be awesome at getting people to do unspeakably weird poses with their body, poses they might not be comfortable doing at first. Are you that kind of person?

Remember that these people are here because they need your help finding their inner yogi. And like anyone in customer service, you need to be friendly, approachable, and polite—and since you practice yoga, you likely already are. If you're screaming at your clients or otherwise losing your cool, this probably isn't the right place for you and it won't be long before your "Om" turns into an "Om-my, they fired me."

Listen to your clients; communicate with and respect them. Besides being fellow persons, you never know who your clients may be. They could be pretty powerful but stressed-out people who really shouldn't be messed with—although hopefully the yoga will help them chill out for a change.