Teacher tip Tuesday 2: The Freebie

The Freebie

So once upon a time there were very few yoga teachers. If you were a yoga teacher you were considered the ultimate hippy. Meaning you swan around eating seeds, wearing flat beaded flips flops and and always held a canvas bag containing some healthy crackers.  My yoga teacher was this very person I describe. I wasn’t too fussed if I caught the class or not because I actually had no real reason why I was going apart from the fact that she was calm and really nice so I went for years not really getting it but still going because it made me feel real calm.

We paid her on the door – it was nothing really could have been a fiver – to feel calm? I’ll take that! Sometimes there would be only five of us there. Students would fall asleep, gentle fart sounds and smells moving around the room, I mean really I had no idea why I enjoyed this class but I remember thinking once that the teacher was only making £25 for that class its not that much and often wandered how many classes she had to teach to make a living but then decided that she must love her job, making people feel calm.

Fast forward a few more years and here we are in a land filled with yoga teachers, heck I’m one myself with an industry that is more competitive than ever.

This upturn in people seeking the “yoga feeling” has resulted new studios popping up, more teacher trainings available than I remember there being and more styles on offer. The ones who were once students decided along the way to train to be a teacher in order to help others feel calm. The problem is now that the market is saturated with qualified yoga teachers, its no longer seen as a real skill or should I say that there are some who want to present opportunities that involve teachers accepting less than average hourly wage just to get experience or in some cases offering freebies as a foot in the door.

All those years back I was willing to pay £5 to be calm for an hour – how much is this now worth??

Well depends who you’re talking to… its a general consensus that teachers should be offering their services for free in order to get somewhere. As soon as I got my qualification and asked how much should I be charging for privates I remember someone telling me ‘oh maybe do the first couple for free’ Obviously being me I asked why and this teacher specifically said to me “…because thats how you get started with no experience”.

Seriously. It’s almost law that working free for a while is perfectly acceptable. This answer reminded me of when I used to work in the corporate world and we’d get these very enthusiastic interns with great shoes and lots of smiles. They would be asked to partake in duties they were not needed for like making tea and because they weren’t getting paid anything apart from expenses, it was almost acceptable. I always thought these people were qualified human beings in their industry why are they not being paid what they are worth? hmmm…

Do I really have to work for free to make headway in the yoga world as a teacher?

Short answer is no. Long answer is a bit more complicated.

If you feel that what you are offering is valuable, it takes time for you to prepare and you have to travel to your destination; then its easy – the answer is always yes. Having probably paid close to £3,000 for your qualification you probably at one point want to make that cash back right? Unless you’re working a second job you need to think about ways that you can activate your yoga teaching qualification without working for free.

  1. Get experience: Worth your time! If it has to be free, offer your services in exchange for something else. We used to live in a society where the exchange of goods was considered payment. This can consist of a free class, an introduction to someone of influence, observing or assisting a class with an experienced teacher. All these things are not considered “free” as there is the possibility of further work from these offerings
  2. Gym work: Don’t look down on teaching in gyms. They do come in all levels and types of students; from the plush private member gym to the cheaper more affordable but getting on the cover list on a popular gym means that you can teach and get paid gaining the experience you need to then later approach the centres you wish to have a teaching residency in.
  3. Contact people you know letting them know you have this skill offering a discounted rate. People like discounts just don’t do it for free. From my experience people don’t value free. Some will take liberties with your time not turning up, cancelling last minute just because it was free – you could have been somewhere else earning in that time…