As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be writing regular posts over the next few weeks outlining the contents of each chapter of my soon to be published book, “Stretched: Build Your Yoga Business, Grow Your Teaching Techniques.” Chapter 2 is called “Understanding the Yoga Industry.” I thought after explaining a little bit about how to select a teacher training, it’d be helpful to give people an overview of the industry. In my mind, the more you know about how it works, with all it’s funny quirks, terminology and the roles involved, the better you can position yourself to make good decisions when it comes to teaching.
This chapter will review the role of Yoga Alliance, the differences between being a Registered Yoga Teacher and a Certified Yoga Teacher and will review some of the basics from an employment perspective when it comes to taking jobs as a yoga teacher. Over the years that I’ve been teaching, I’ve found that one of the key aspects of the yoga industry is that it really runs on a “who you know” basis more than anything else. I point out in this chapter that you’ll rarely if ever see (I’ve actually never seen one) an employment link on any studio’s website. You might see a post on Craig’s List from a studio looking for yoga teachers. You might not even hear that a studio is looking for teachers (if you’re not connected to their network of teachers). This is one of the reasons why it can be helpful to expand your network of connections. The more people you know, the better chance you’ll hear about new teaching opportunities.
This chapter also begins to outline some of the considerations from a tax status and employment status perspective that you need to be aware of as a teacher. I can share that after my first full year of teaching, I paid almost $4000 in taxes. It wasn’t so much that I had to pay that amount, but I had not saved any of it during the year. I had to come up with the money in the short period of time between when my taxes were done by my accountant and April 15. This was all because I had neglected to take into account that as an independent contractor, my pay had no money withheld for taxes, social security and unemployment insurance. I didn’t realize that if I didn’t save money for taxes throughout the year, I’d have to come up with all the money by April 15. One of the biggest considerations that as yoga teachers we need to be aware of is the fact that most of us are paid as contractors. If we don’t save money for taxes, at the end of the year, all the revenue we report will be taxed both in terms of the individual tax you’ll pay (whatever tax bracket you’re in) but will also be assessed with self employment tax (I believe it’s now 15.3%). This is the kind of information that I have never heard discussed, never learned about in any training, never really even talked about with other teachers. And this is one of the key reasons I wrote this book ( at least the business chapters ). I never want another teacher to go through what I did, financially speaking, and the more I can share about this aspect of teaching, the more I hope to prevent someone else from going through what I did.
I also talk about health insurance in this chapter, pointing out some of the factors involved in finding coverage. This is also a huge expense for teachers and something again, that is often not discussed in training. Trainings are really about the “content” of teaching but these business aspects of teaching can be the things that make or break even the most skilled teacher. Bottom line: if you don’t save money for taxes, it can wipe you out financially. If you don’t have health insurance, an illness or injury can wipe you out financially and physically too. So, the more you know about the industry and your role in it, the better prepared you can be as you start teaching, looking for jobs and most importantly, planning your future as a teacher. These two factors alone can also be a huge deciding factor in whether or not you choose to teach full time or not.
Let me say also that I am not the expert. I am writing from my own experience. I am sharing these business aspects of teaching because I’m passionate about making sure that people have as much information as possible so they can make smart, healthy, reasonable choices about their finances as well as working doing something they love.
Next up: Chapter 3, Getting Started with Teaching Once You’ve Completed Your 200-Hour Program.