Teaching @ Great Studios | 7 Helpful Tips for Yoga Teachers

Since moving to San Jose last year, I have managed to secure a spot on the schedule of some of the top studios in San Jose. Each one offering a uniquely flavored yoga experience. Each one allowing me to flex certain areas of skill, know-how or passion while allowing me to learn from their own communities of gifted teachers. As I joined these communities, teachers would ask me how I managed to “get in.” So much so that I decided to put together a post about it.

A while back there was a studio in Boston I REALLY wanted to teach at. When I approach the owner, he said - “well just be around and one day if we need someone we’ll just be like “hey you! we need help can you sub?” I was pretty confused by the answer. It took me a while to realize that this owner of this super successful studio, who had a million people in line to teach and budding teachers out of his own training program was saying, “show me that you’re in this to be a part of my community and then we’ll talk.” Don’t underestimate the power of your genuine presence if you want to be a part of a studio. This was my biggest blind spot in my approach and I’ll get into it more in the post below. But know that each studio is different. Each studio has a different “process” for hiring new teachers - and you’ll need to be flexible, professional and reliable when it comes to working with them.

To that end, here are my top tips for working at the studio of your dreams:

Treat it like a job interview: If you want to work at a yoga studio, you want them to give you a job. This yoga studio has overhead, taxes to pay, customers to satisfy and (if they’re any good) a line of other teachers who probably want to teach there as well. You need to be able to present yourself in a way that clearly articulates your value and shows the studio owner that you are a good investment of their time and energy. Do the things you would do if you were interviewing with a job for any company, such as:

  1. Prepare a resume: Yes, a resume. Organize your training and teaching experience in a way that someone can easily scan to get an idea of who you are and what you’ve done. Categories of information include:

    1. teacher training course completions & hours

    2. teaching experience (studios, gyms, nursing homes, specialty events like weddings - you name it)

    3. areas in which you specialize / specialized trainings you have taken

    4. types of classes you can comfortably teach

    5. specialty workshops you offer (if you don’t have any - start preparing some - if you need help, reach out to me for some 1 on 1 coaching!)

  2. Prepare answers to basic questions you might see in a job interview: You should be able to articulate easily answers to the following types of questions:

    1. How many years have you been teaching / where did you train / who did you train with?

    2. What is your unique POV / value add / what do you bring to the table?

    3. Why do you want to teach here?

    4. Why do you teach yoga?

    5. What styles do you teach?

    6. What are you looking for in a studio / community?

  3. Do your research & plug into the community: Take the classes of the studio owner / top teachers. After 3-4 classes, go introduce yourself after class. Tell them something you genuinely like about their class - notice what they did - show them you are paying attention to their offering - then let them know you’re a teacher and would love to learn more about what it would take to join the teaching faculty. Be conscious during this first conversation that these people have busy schedules, be conscious of their time and don’t hang them up too much. Get to the point and figure out what you need to do to either: secure an audition, get on the sub list and/or up level your training for consideration.

  4. Once you start subbing: If you can, take someones class before you sub it. This helps you know the physical and communication style the students are used to. After you sub, ask students candidly for feedback at the end of class. I typically say, “I know I’m a sub, but I’d love your feedback be it positive or constructive criticism so that I can polish my offering and ensure you have the best experience possible in your time with me. We can speak directly or you can email the studio - but please share your thoughts if you have a moment.

  5. Learn how to take feedback: Without feedback, we can’t grow. If we’re sensitive or defensive of our offering - it can be difficult to improve upon our teaching style. The best advice I was ever given when it came to feedback was, “Take what works and leave the rest - don’t give it any more drama than that.However, if someone is giving you feedback, don’t immediately retaliate with “I’m leaving that - it doesn’t work for me.” Thank said person for their advice and let them know how helpful it is to hear their perspective. Whether you choose to do anything with their perspective is up to you. But don’t debate it with them. Take it with grace and put some space around it to see if there’s anything useful there.

  6. Prepare a website: If you really want to be taken seriously as a teacher, it can be profoundly helpful to put together a simple, clean website using a DIY site like SquareSpace (which I use here) or Wix. If you don’t know how - ask around and see if someone can help you out / pay someone to do it and train you. If we teach mental flexibility in physical postures, we should be mentally flexible enough to learn a little bit about technology to help us do what we love in the world. A website not only shows potential employers that you are serious, but it forces you treat offering like a business and organize your information in a way that is helpful to potential employers or students. Think: Home Page (overviews), Teaching Schedule Page, About Me Page (which can include training / history / a copy of your resume), Privates or Specialties Page and a “Contact” page. I typically advise a blog for anyone what’s a writer or simply passionate about sharing information.

  7. Check in and continue to test the waters: As noted, you may have to work the heck out of the sub list for several months (if not longer) if the teaching roster is full. However, it’s always worth it to circle back with the powers that be every 6 months or so for a “quick chat and a cup of tea.” Ask if they’ve had any feedback that is important for you to hear (positive or negative). Ask if there’s anything they’d like to see from you. Ask if they’re interested in hosting any of your speciality workshops. If you secure a workshop spot - be sure to do your part and work to fill that workshop. Email everyone you know - your mom, your mailman, your neighbor - invite them and help sell the workshop. These types of efforts show studio and gym owners that you are serious about what you do!

    Extra Credit: Put up social pages and posts. I know it can feel very “un-yoga” to get all into the marketing aspect of it. But if you really align with why you’re teaching, you may find it easy to share some of the tools and insights you are discovering in your own practice with those that could benefit from them.

Questions? Comments? Things you’ve done that I didn’t mention here? Please feel free to post some feedback! I’d love to hear it :)