The double life of a yoga teacher


One of my favorite yoga teachers, Rebecca, likes to say that “in real life” she is a dental hygienist.

I’ve been talking to a lot of the teachers in the studios I frequent, trying to give myself the extra push to sign up for teacher training in the spring. Between that and social media, I’ve discovered three very distinct profiles of yoga teachers, and I’ve mentally been trying to bucket myself into these profiles (even though I already know exactly which profile I would choose, given the choice).

Yoga teachers don’t make a lot of money. Certification is expensive (the basic 200 hr course I’m considering costs around $3000), and in a craft where you literally never stop learning, it can also be costly to continue deepening your own practice through workshops, retreats and other investments.

This is where the double life comes in. Many of the yoga teachers I’ve had the pleasure of practicing with have other full-time jobs, and pick up a class or two during their time off – early mornings, evenings, weekends, you name it – so they can have the opportunity to teach.

I’ve had classes led by police officers, financial analysts, graduate students, consultants, and of course, dental hygienists, and when I remember these folks have to make room in what must be fairly packed lives to not only come and teach, but also squeeze in their own practice, I start to wonder why they do it.

Then, of course, I start to wonder why I would want to do it. Ever since my son’s traumatic birth brought a little perspective into my life, I have been ALL about not making things too stressful for myself. I don’t want my life jam-packed, I want to be able to take it easy and do things I enjoy without getting caught up unnecessarily in a rat race to nowhere.

This means having a job where I work moderately hard but don’t have to kill myself (especially now that I’m indifferent to getting promotions or raises, since I’m perfectly happy with where I am), but that also allows me to not worry all that much about finances.

It also means not taking up too many additional commitments that would make me feel obligated to do things I don’t feel like doing with my free time.

I suppose that’s part of the reason why I haven’t just bit the bullet and signed up for my teacher training. I question my own motives for wanting to go through it. I question whether my motives are strong to carry me through what will no doubt be a stressful (but fulfilling) experience. I question whether it will lead me down a path that fills my life enough stress and obligation to make me forget how much I enjoy exposing other people to the practice I love.

Needless to say, of the three, this isn’t the profile I would choose for myself, if I were to go through with it. In all honesty, I doubt I will ever teach, at least not on a regular basis. I’m the sole breadwinner in my family and even if we stripped things down significantly around here (downgrade our car, eat out less, create a strict budget for clothing and other ‘extras,’ etc…) we couldn’t make do with a yoga instructor salary unless I taught 12 hours a day, and that wouldn’t allow me to put in as many hours into my personal life as my current, fairly lucrative job does.

So why become a certified yoga instructor if I don’t think I will ever instruct??

I haven’t figured it out yet, but I do feel like the Universe is telling me to go there (and it’s not just because Facebook and Google Ad Words have figured out I’m into yoga). I know it’s an investment in my future, and one that will no doubt pay dividends down the road. So I will eventually find out why it appeals to me … I just wish I didn’t have to drop three grand into it to learn the reason!


One thought on “The double life of a yoga teacher

  1. I work two jobs in addition to teaching 3 classes per week. The trick to practice is to do it when you have a spare hour or so. I keep a pair of yoga shorts in my bag and carry props with me when I will be away from the studio. I also attend evening and weekend classes.


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