So what does it really mean to be a yogi? As a yoga teacher, I think it means to face the music and deal with reality, head on. I mean, sugar coating reality doesn’t serve our yoga community at all—a community who’s primary focus is based on characteristics such as compassion, honesty and sometimes courage.
Courage to stand up for what’s right.
So, why do we allow ourselves to be overworked and underpaid? Maybe it’s because we are so desperate to live out the 'yoga life' we had imagined. Because we remember how we idolized those teachers who made us cry in savasana. Because we love to teach and nurture. Because we DO care about our students.
To delve deeper into this ‘overworked-underpaid’ problem, allow me to break down the everyday process of a yoga teacher:
We prepare for our classes. I’m always working towards improving from the last session I taught. I want to bring something new to my students, I want to engage them, I want to keep their interest and I certainly want them coming back to my class. For a 60-90 minute yoga practice, a yoga teacher can spend anywhere between 30-60 minutes dedicated to planning his/her class.
Travel time. Does your teacher drive or take the bus? Let’s allocate anywhere between 30 minutes to one hour to get to the studio and another 30 minutes to one hour to get back home or to another session at some other location.
We make ourselves available to our students. Before or after classes, yoga teachers are usually present to answer any questions or address any concerns. As a yoga teacher, I tend to wear many hats. I’m a poet, a physical therapist and a psychologist. Sometimes, my profession even gets confused with being a doctor. Playing all these roles can be pretty tiring and time consuming. This can take anywhere between 15-30 minutes of the teacher’s time, before and after the practice.
So what does this all mean? In our best case scenario, teachers spend an average of one hour and a half planning, traveling and making themselves available to their students and in our worst case scenario, they could spend three hours (or more) performing the aforementioned. To add insult to injury, they’re lucky if they get $40 thrown their way for a 60 or even 90-minute class, on top of everything they had to do before and after that practice.
My solution? Know your worth and be firm about it.
As yoga teachers, we need to stick together and support our cause. Yes, depending on the size and location of the studio, a teacher’s pay rate may vary, but if someone wants to use your services, they should be willing to pay a fair rate for your time and effort.
When a yoga teacher takes on a class for $25, they’re not just taking a salary cut, they’re affecting a whole community of teachers, some who have many years of teaching experience under their belts and who are being ousted by their studios to welcome younger, newer teachers that basically work for less than minimum wage. If yoga teachers set their standards from the very beginning, maybe we can change this overworked and underpaid profession back to an enlightening path with some financial perks.
Peace & Love,
Anna & Nishia