Friday, January 27, 2012

(A Little More About) How to "Make It" in Bikram Yoga

Wow - I expected to get some reaction, but I am surprised and encouraged by how many people responded to my last post about "How to "Make It" as a Bikram Yoga Teacher." I got so many positive and thoughtful responses - on the blog, on Facebook, and in my inbox. I think people responded because this topic is so often swept under the rug. (There are hundreds of blogs about the teacher training experience, but not so many about the practical teaching experience.) I'm thrilled that my post was helpful to so many people, especially the new teachers!

I think I covered the most significant points in my first post, but other teachers have pointed out some more excellent points that are worth a mention. So without further ado, here is Part II.

Continuing Education

Yes, yes, yes, yes. I know you just shelled out $11k for teacher training, but did you really learn everything there? Don't answer that, it's not even a question. The best content at TT is in Bikram's posture lectures towards the end, and by that point you are totally sleep deprived and overloaded. So keep learning!

Keep your eye out for seminars and master classes in your area. (Or even seminars not in your area - road trip!) Most of those events cost $50 or less for teachers, and they are incredibly valuable. So far I've been to two seminars with Diane Ducharme, a master class with Lynn Whitlow, one advanced seminar (in 2009), advanced classes with Emmy (which are free), and master classes with every international champion since maybe 2008. These have all been immensely helpful for my teaching. And did I mention that they are also great networking opportunities? You can often get on the schedule at a studio for a week or two when a teacher goes out of town for vacation. (I taught for a week at the studio in Richmond after I met the owner at one of Diane's seminars.)

Read books about yoga that inspire you. I have a list of some of my favorite over on the right-hand side of this blog. Just don't go crazy and start overanalyzing everything - keep it simple!

Keep studying your dialogue. I said it before but I'll say it again. Most studios want dialogue. Don't think, "oh, I'll study it more once I have work." That's backwards. Learn the material, get your shit together, and the work will come to you! This is especially true for the newbies. You don't have to be perfect (because perfection doesn't exist), but don't get complacent, either. I know teachers who have been teaching for 5+ years and still look at the dialogue every day. Just keep trying the right way.

And yes, go back and visit teacher training if you have the ability. It can be illuminating. I've been back twice now. The first visit was overwhelming, but the second one was incredible.

Teaching Overseas

I haven't done this yet, but there are definitely opportunities overseas. (I guess I should specify that I am American and writing this from the USA perspective.) Australia seems to be going crazy for Bikram, and there are lots of opportunities down under for teachers under age 30 (due to a quirk of their immigration rules). Sounds like fun!

Studio Ownership

I left this out on purpose because you really have to get some experience as a teacher before you can be a good studio owner - you can't put the cart before the horse! I think HQ requires a minimum 6 months or 100 classes experience before opening a studio (or something like that - maybe somebody can correct me here). In my opinion, that's still an awfully short amount of time. I wouldn't have felt prepared to be responsible for a whole studio after only 6 months! But of course a lot of people go to training from areas where Bikram yoga doesn't exist yet, with the specific purpose of opening a studio in their home town/country, and that's fabulous.

Opening a studio will cost about $150,000 on average, so you have to spend a lot of money to make money. But a lot of studio owners do quite well for themselves after a couple years in business. 

I might open a studio one day, but at the moment I'm not even remotely interested. Owning a studio will almost definitely cut into your teaching and practice time, plus it gives you a whole pile of extra responsibilities. I am very happy to operate as a full-time teacher with no extra worries - it lets me have more fun.

And Finally...

My friend Nikhil suggested that I should revisit the original question. 

I wrote about the question that people are most inclined to ask: "Can you make a living by teaching Bikram yoga?" 

But here's a better question, the one that is always in the air at the beginning of teacher training: "Do you want to change your life?"

It's a personal question. The answer is up to you. But if you are somebody who wants the life of a teacher, then I sincerely hope that this discussion will help you!

Comments are always welcome. I try to read and answer all of them. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could address the fact that teachers now will have to deal with deciding whether or not they are going to "break" their contractual agreement in order to be able to teach by teaching at what are now mostly unaffiliated studios.

This is a WHOLE new issue coming up for brand new teachers (even old ones alike) who will be struggling to find work anyway AND abide by their agreement to only teach at affiliated studios. 3/4 of the studios in the US right now have not signed Bikram's new terms.