Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In a Bind: What it Means to Move to a New City with a Career in Yoga

Lately, my husband and I have been considering moving out of the city and into the outskirts of a small city of 40,000 about five hours from out current locale. A common story, we're tired of the exorbitantly high cost of living and the disproportionately low wages of our hometown. Plus, we love the idea of having a little bit of space to have a garden as well as some quiet and peace of mind. My husband will have no problem finding working in the nearby city. However, as a yoga teacher, I'll need to consider my options about the viability of teaching yoga in a small city.

Living in a metropolitan area, there are a multitude of studios, businesses, and fitness centers offering yoga, all of which serve as potential places of employment for teachers. I've created a diverse schedule for myself teaching classes at three studios and one local business, all within 10 minutes of my apartment (a big plus to save on gas costs). This structure all me to reach many people thus creating a large potential client base to which I can offer workshops and private sessions.

When I think about the move, I can't help but think that continuing to teach yoga full-time is at best a pipe-dream, at worst a selfish-indulgence that provides little to support our family. With only three studios in the new town, its not likely that I'd be able to develop a full schedule of classes (I consider this to be 10 classes) at studios whose missions I fully support. Even if I did find three appropriate studios and/or businesses, health centers, etc., the 20 minutes commute from our home out in the country would significantly reduce my net income, perhaps to a point where my wages become negligible. Plus, I can't help but think of the longer commute to be "eco-mean".

It would be great if I could just roll into town and build a community of students as private clients. However, I'm not sure how likely that is to happen. In my experience as a student, I like to know a teacher quite well before committing to an expensive workshop or private session, especially in times such as these where we all need to watch our dollars and cents more closely.
I know that the energy you put out has a lot to do with the success you find and that my trepidation does not serve me. Still, I also know math and wonder if it'd really be possible to make ends meet teaching yoga in such a small community.

QUESTIONS
  • Have you moved cities as a yoga instructor? If so, did you continue to teach and how was the transition?
  • Can a yoga teacher support herself solely on yoga in a small city?

6 comments:

Jamine said...

Hi There,

About your questions of moving as a teacher and surviving as a teacher...

I think it does take a while to establish a clientele. It's like any service really - hairdressers come to mind. You need customers and you pay for them by hiring a studio to bring them to you when you're new.

I always taught yoga on the side and had other jobs during the day. Then I made the shift to just yoga but it was when I had established classes and other clients and I could personally handle the knot in my stomach that came with being so entrepreneurial.

In open classes, you are subjected to what's happening in the community and the weather and if people don't come, you don't make any money. In private classes you've got people's personal schedules to deal with and then people retire from yoga after some time. In corporate classes you've got unusual space and limited hours to teach in - most people want a lunchtime and you've really only got 5 of those a week.

It's awkward teaching yoga if you're looking out at your students as money. It's more relaxing if you can teach because you love to teach, not because you have to teach or your kids don't eat. On the other hand, just like being a student, it doesn't matter why you get to class, you just go and then the yoga will unfold if you stay open and are willing.

Good luck with your move if you make it!

Felicity Bell said...

Thanks for your insightful comment Jamine. I've absolutely struggled to separate my business self from my yogi self. For a while I was harping on the number of students in class, as it relates directly to my income. I quickly found that class size can be unpredictable and attaching myself to it offered no benefits. Small classes are fantastic as both a student and a teacher and while they might not pay as much, the benefit of the more personal is huge. Little by little, I'll continue learning these lessons and hopefully figuring out the financials as I go along. Thanks again!

Michelle said...

Hey, it's been a long time since you posted. What happened? How did it go? Please write a follow-up. I am so curious about your move and yoga.

XO

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Dianabol said...

Interesting post, I never looked at this from your angle, thanks for sharing.

Diana