The past few weeks I have been meeting all sorts of newly trained yoga teachers (less than two years experience). It has been fun comparing notes about setting up a teaching practice this small city with a million other yoga teachers. Really there are too many yoga teachers in this town. The “yoga student pie” is getting split into some pretty small slices. I know studios are feeling it too. I think at least 4 or 5 new studios have opened in the last year. I can see that classes are less full. It isn’t that less people are doing yoga. There are more people practicing but there are TONS of classes for yoga students to choose from. For instance.. this yoga resource site website mentions 75 classes available today. And this list doesn’t include many of the local studios, gyms or recreation centers. I am sure that number is at least double. How wonderful that we have so much yoga here. How difficult it makes it to be a new yoga teacher trying to find her way in the industry.
I was warned beforehand not to get into teaching yoga for the money. The pay is terrible especially at the beginning. I knew that. I became a teacher once I was at a place in my life where I could work around the pennies initially offered for my services. But what I wasn’t expecting was the odd response from studios/yoga employers. Essentially as a new teacher most studios won’t hire you unless they know you or you come highly recommended. Really it makes perfect sense. Volunteering or subbing is often the best way to get your foot in the door. Realistically most studios would prefer it if you already had a largish following that brought new students into their space too. Of course it works this way. They have their rent and staff to pay. They are businesses too.
But there is this weird surface “niceness” sometimes from potential studios/employers that actually means “Um ya whatever, you don’t have any experience or students, come back to us when you have built your teaching practice up some more and we can talk“… At least that is what I “think” this niceness means but I don’t really know. When things aren’t clear usually I will follow up with the possible employer. It hasn’t been unusual for my emails and/or calls to not be returned. I don’t think I am unapproachable or that I am saying the wrong things. But who knows.. maybe I am. Possibly by even writing this blog post I am doing some damage to my professional reputation but I think people like my honest and open posts.
What it feels like is that many yoga people running businesses don’t want to hurt a new teachers feeling or be a downer. They don’t want to say “No”.. but they aren’t saying “Yes” either. For the new yoga teacher this is a like yoga purgatory.
Or maybe.. it isn’t that at all. And yoga businesses just don’t run like other businesses where emails and calls are returned. Maybe they are just frantically busy trying to figure out how they are going to pay the rent. I don’t know. But I do know that I have felt a lot of relief sharing these experiences with other new teachers who are feeling the same thing. When it is just you going out there trying to get yoga gigs this wall of silence starts to feel pretty personal and like you are doing something wrong. But alas…it seems every new yoga teacher I have talked to has had at least some experience with this weird and confusing land of “niceness” with no real connection.
Despite it all my teaching practice is still growing and building. I just wish I had been warned that having emotional skin as thick as a crocodile is also incredibly useful when it comes to being a new yoga teacher.