You have transcendental goals for becoming a yoga instructor who changes lives and sports sun-bleached hair as you teach in an open cabana in Bali. But the analytic side of your brain knows that the real-world everyday expectations of you are quite different. You actually have to worry about things like rent and car insurance.
Finding the balance between your practical side and the dreamer in you takes some compromise. You can’t sacrifice either one as they both help you create the life and salary you were meant to live. You have to allow that free-spirited side of you to dictate sometimes or you’ll become a captive to the grind. But then again, you have to allow the practical side to come out or you could end up in financial strain for your yoga instructor salary or worse.
We’ll start by speaking to that practical side of you and remind you that you shouldn’t only pursue this profession for the money. Not that you can’t make money as a yoga instructor, but because your real intentions for pursuing the career should be about passion and transformation, a much deeper calling. Materialism shouldn’t be the key factor. Most yoga instructors report feeling satisfied with their job, so the spiritual and mental benefits are certainly worth it.
And to reassure your free-spirited side, the best business approach for yoga instructors is one that is entirely inspired and original. Your branding, your product selection, and your classes offer many opportunities to let your true self shine.
If you have a mission to do what’s most fulfilling for you as a yoga instructor, you have to carve out your own approach to make it happen. That part is up to you. But we’ll show you how much yoga instructors typically make and then give you some alternative ways to make money that will be equally as fulfilling for you.
So, let’s get straight to what you came here for…
How much do yoga instructors make?
According to Payscale, yoga instructors in the US can expect to make between $13.72 and $49.97 an hour, with a median pay around $24.00 an hour. This comes to a salary of $36,000 if you consistently work 30 hours a week for 50 weeks, with two weeks unpaid vacation. Glassdoor estimates a national salary average of $37,900 per year.
Paying your dues pays off though:
After 10 years as a yoga instructor, the median salary goes up to $62,000 per year.
After 20 years, the median salary goes up to $100,000.
Those are some pretty lucrative numbers! Six figures after 20 years–not too bad of a salary for a yoga instructor! It really does “pay” to establish yourself in the yoga community and dedicate your years to it, especially if yoga is something you intend on doing for the rest of your life.
Let’s look at the income next to the costs associated with becoming a yoga instructor.
Costs to be a yoga instructor
The first cost you’re going to encounter is the cost to become certified as a yoga teacher. The costs vary by certifying agency, but you should expect to pay a few thousand dollars. If you compare that to the cost for a complete college education, this cost is trivial.
Here’s a list of the expenses you should expect to become a certified yoga instructor:
- You should expect to pay upwards of $3,000 to become certified as a yoga teacher, and that will usually consist of weekend workshops for 6 months, or 200 to 500 hours of instruction. You can take a look at some of the Yoga Alliance certified 200-hour classes to get an idea of cost here.
- If you wish to pursue additional certifications, you should expect to pay additional fees for those.
- If you want to register with Yoga Alliance, you’ll pay another $55 per month.
- Liability insurance is necessary and typically costs from $150 to $350 per year.
- The cost for studio space will vary greatly depending on whether you own your own studio, whether you rent space, or whether you teach at a gym.
- Remember that a portion of your income will be taxed, so make sure you’ve accounted for taxes in your expenses.
- As far as marketing is concerned, much of the modern marketing available to you today is free. Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, LinkedIn and other social media offer free marketing channels. However, if you want to boost a post on Facebook, take professional photos, or print business cards and the like, you will need to account for those expenses.
So, now that we’ve covered the typical salary and expenses of yoga instructors, you might be wondering:
What exactly do yoga instructors get paid for?
Well, you probably already know that yoga instructors get paid for teaching yoga classes. But the pay structure differs depending on where you work. A gym might give you $4 per person for a class whereas a corporation providing exercise classes to their employees might pay you a set $100-$200 per class. A private client might pay $75-$200 for a one-hour session.
Depending on the pay structure, you may use different tactics to then increase your pay. If you get $4 per person at a gym, you could try different marketing methods to make sure your classes are always filled. If you have 10 students in an hour long class, that would net you $40 per hour. If private clients pay better, you may try to promote yourself to that particular market more often.
Part of your job also entails showing students how to perform moves correctly and helping them adjust their form to get the most out of the workout and prevent injury. You must also create and lead your students through an engaging, flowing curriculum. If you spend your own time putting curriculum together, you need to factor that time into your income too.
If you have an idea about how many hours you’ll be working and the amount you’ll be paid, you can then begin to set some income goals:
Income goal setting for yoga instructors:
- First, start with how much you’d like to earn in a year as a yoga instructor for your salary.
- Once you have that number in mind for your salary, you can determine how many classes or private clients you expect to teach and how much you’ll earn per session.
- From there, you can calculate how many classes you realistically need to teach per week and how much you need to charge to reach your goal.
- From there, you can also create additional sources of income for yourself. We’ll discuss some of those a little further down.
- Make sure to join communities with other successful yoga entrepreneurs to keep you in the success mindset, to help you troubleshoot, to push you, and to inspire you.
Remember that classes will typically fill up fast in January for New Year’s and then die down in November leading up to the holidays. You’ll also likely be teaching people early in the morning before work, during lunch breaks, or after work. You must take these fluctuations into account. They influence your salary. Your particular class setting will also play a role in your income.
The class setting is a key factor in how much you get paid
- As discussed above, classes may be more difficult to net you high wages unless you get hired at a high-end boutique studio. Of course, you can always get smart about how you market your yoga classes to fill them for a better return.
- Private clients typically pay better than gyms, so spend some intentional time trying to find new clients in this niche.
- Workshops and retreats are a great way to earn a large chunk of change. Commit to holding a yoga intensive one weekend every quarter or twice a year. If students want your undivided attention for an entire weekend, they will be willing to pay a high cost to get it. Intensives could be a great cash booster.
- Geographical location also plays a role in how much you get paid. Big cities often give better pay than rural locations.
So now, knowing what you know about the basic costs, income, salary and requirements for being a yoga instructor, you can start to experiment with different ways to make the standard protocol better or experiment with different income streams.
Classes in a studio are not the only way to teach classes anymore. And the internet opens up a whole new world of earning potential.
Don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities to make additional income as a yoga instructor!
The internet provides a wealth of opportunity for yoga teachers.
First, you should work on cultivating a social media fan base by posting regularly with information of value.
Once in awhile, you can tease your fans with your offers and services.
For example, you could Livestream a portion of your workout for your fans so they can get an insider’s view of what it’s like.
Anytime you launch a digital product, you can advertise to this group. If they’re following you, they likely already have an interest.
You can do the same type of thing with your email list. Make sure all your clients, all your prospects, and all your followers are directed to your email list. In the online business space, your email list is the most valuable marketing tool you have at your disposal.
Once you have an email list, you can nurture that list with valuable content and an occasional sales offer. Sending out a regular newsletter is one way to keep in touch with prospects and keep your students in the loop of what’s happening at the studio. It can also help you build your credibility and following in the broader yoga space.
Once you have a solid following on social media and your email list, it’s time to start showing them what you have to offer. Let them know your class schedule and also keep them updated about digital products you’ve created.
Digital products yoga instructors use for passive income:
- Sell your original yoga sequences on The Yoga Recipe
- Sell your audio instructions on Audible Yoga.
- Broadcast your classes live and sell memberships for unlimited streaming.
- Create a podcast for yoga teachers or yoga students to give them a deeper understanding of their practice.
- Sell an audio program with your own original recorded meditations or yoga sequences for different occasions (yoga for bedtime, yoga for work, etc).
- Create and sell your own yoga card deck.
- Incorporate affiliate marketing and digital products into your business website.
For both online and in-person services, you can’t ignore how much personality, talent and branding play in your success.
In order to build your online following, fill your classes, and become an esteemed instructor, you need to have a magnetic personality and teach an epic class.
How can you create a better experience?
For one, you can create a sanctuary out of your studio, where people feel safe and experience a transformation during class. Take lighting, scent, temperature, music, and feng shui into consideration. If you can transform the class into a serene transformational space, you’ll get students lining up at the door.
You might also consider collaborating with other professionals with complementary skills. You might incorporate a drum circle inside your yoga class or invite a special guest musician to play live music while you lead a session. Or you might offer a mala bead class right after one of your sessions. Collaborations are a great way for both you and your special guest to get in front of each other’s audiences. It also enhances the experience for your students.
Being the teacher puts you in a position of authority to your students. Because of that, they will likely come to you for advice and friendship. Make yourself open to your students before and after class and perhaps via email. You become that “wise sage” that everyone wants to get close to. If you become that ray of light for them, your connection to them will increase.
Encouraging friendships and bonding among your students is another way to establish a sense of family in your class. Many people aren’t comfortable being forced into situations where they have to mingle, so be sensitive to that. Do a quick meet and greet before class or end every class by having everyone hold hands (or hook pinkies) while you take them through a “we’re all interconnected” meditation. These simple exercises are memorable and can be deeply moving, an experience your students won’t soon forget.
Another tactic to try is to casually ask students before or after class or email a confidential survey to see what’s going well and what you could improve on. Your students will tell you exactly what you need so you can give it to them.
Branding is another important aspect of your yoga business.
Branding for yoga instructors
If you have an online presence, you need to create a strong brand for your business and be known for something.
For example, when people are scrolling through their instagram feeds, they should know which images belong to you without even seeing your name.
To create your own online image, you can either use pictures of yourself (to become recognizable), a recurring set of colors, or perhaps a certain background to make your images recognizable.
Some fun Instagram branding ideas:
- If you frequently travel, you could post pictures of you doing yoga poses in front of famous landmarks.
- You can be the yogi that always poses under the same willow tree.
- You could use a stick or another memorable prop for all your poses.
- Maybe you have a particular circular yoga mat that’s in every one of your pictures.
- If you’re the “handstand king/queen,” you could brand your Insta account for all things handstands.
- Capture downward dog poses with actual dogs.
Some example Instagram accounts with strong branding:
@laurasykora incorporates her young daughter into her yoga practice, often while wearing matching outfits. The branding is very clear and consistent.
@robinmartinyoga posts acroyoga poses in very minimalistic settings.
@carsonclaycalhoun offers humor along with his yoga account.
@beachyogagirl posts exactly what it sounds like: plenty of pictures on the beach. Sandy white and beachy teal are definitely the recurring colors.
@dylanwerneryoga is known for his single-arm balances and his tattoos. Definitely memorable.
@daynatrixieflynn has a really flamboyant eclectic account with lots of graffiti colors. The theme is very memorable.
@daughteroftheuniverse has a strong nature hippie theme including her clothes and backdrops.
Take a few minutes to brainstorm branding ideas you can use for your own business. Your branding ideas should translate to your website and other social media accounts as well.
Aspects of branding to think about
- Your message and audience: start here. You need to have a clear message and a clear audience to give the message to.
- The actual colors and fonts that you’ll use consistently on your website and printed materials.
- Design: Aside from colors and fonts, you should use consistent design elements such as backgrounds and frames in all your materials like banners, printables, etc.
- Setting for photos: you may want to choose a particular backdrop or well-lit room that you’d like to use for photos to make them instantly recognizable.
- Brand voice: are you silly, straightforward, a little punk, or deeply spiritual? Choose a consistent tone to use in all your content that makes your personality come through.
- Symbols and props: is there a certain symbol or prop that will show up in your marketing or your social media feed? This is another great way to brand your content.
- Clothing or equipment that is unique to you. Perhaps you wear flowing skirts in your yoga poses or you have your own brand of aerial silks.
- People: you are they key influencer of your own brand, so make sure you show your face often. People love to put a face to the name and get to know their instructor personally. Your own personality is one of the strongest factors in your brand.
Now that we’ve examined how to create a more alluring class and create a strong brand picture in order to boost profitability, you may feel a bit daunted and overwhelmed, wondering how you’ll get it all done. But it really doesn’t have to be intimidating. Start right where you are and develop your brand and skills as you go.
With that being said, there are some smart ways to make the most of your time and resources.
Maximize your time
As discussed earlier, most of your classes will be early in the morning, during lunch, or after work. The hours in between are your sweet spot for getting work done. Instead of chatting or scrolling, use that time to build a blog, increase your social media presence, or design curriculum.
Another way to maximize your time is to create passive income streams. We showed you some ideas above, and these products have the potential to sell themselves even while you’re sleeping. Once you’ve created a digital product, for example, you don’t have to put any additional work into it.
To enhance your income, you can always incorporate other skills you might have into your yoga business. Perhaps you have a background in personal finance. You could help teach a digital course on personal finance for yoga instructors or do the bookkeeping for a local studio. If you are a lawyer, you could design and sell liability waivers and contracts. If you enjoy writing, you could submit articles to popular yoga publications.
And I can’t stress this enough, but the best way to enhance your reach and income and get in front of an expanding market, is to get online! There is limitless income potential to be had online. You can reach anyone, even people who have no access to yoga where they live.
Hopefully this article has given you some insight into the income of a yoga instructor and how to leverage your time and income. With these strategies, you can absolutely enhance your earning potential doing something you have a burning passion for.
If you’re trying to build a sustainable living as a yoga instructor, some additional resources you should check out: