17 March 2009
They say that every restaurant server in Los Angeles is an actor or actress waiting for their big break. So are yoga teachers the new wait staff?
This post over at YogaDork makes one think:
"...many aspiring teachers who hear the call will follow the dream no matter what it takes (meaning, lots of odd jobs and stretching the dollar). For some it’s not worth the stress. Caleb Asch teaches 6 classes a week, but it’s not enough to pay the bills. “The stress of not having enough to live on is a killer,” he said.
JG wrote this comment: "This quote - “The stress of not having enough to live on is a killer” - really hit home for me. I’ve been teaching full time for over five years and I’ve never made a fortune, but I always made the bills. This year has been the exception. With 30+ “one-month-intensive” YTTs in my city churning out teachers and the studios offering increasingly low pay to teachers (after all, why pay when there are people willing to teach for free?), I’m beginning to question my decision to teach, as much as I love it. 2009 may be the year I throw in the towel."
I've written more than a few posts about the economics of yoga teaching and about the plethora of yoga teacher trainings in the Chicago area. The fact of the matter is that there are too many yoga teachers and not enough students, yet studios keep cranking out newbie teachers because teacher training programs pay the bills. A studio doesn't make money teaching group classes and a yoga teacher certainly doesn't, not when a studio owner pays a teacher anywhere from $4-$7 per student. I don't know anyone in the real world who is willing to work 90 minutes to make $4. Yet yoga teachers are expected to and to accept it with a smile and no complaints. And if you don't like it then you can get out because there are 10 more newly minted yoga teachers waiting to take your place, some who are more than willing to teach yoga for free just for the thrill, uh, experience. This is real world yoga stuff that Yoga Journal does not write about.
Yup, yoga teaching sure has become a funny business in this here Om-mera-ka. In fact, I had a moment last week when the thought popped into my head, "why am I doing this?" The longer I teach, the more yoga nutbars float to the surface. As a yoga teacher friend told me about the following email, "the longer we all hang around this USA, the weirder this yoga tribe is gonna get."
I received an email with the subject line "private yoga instruction." I receive more than a few emails like that because I have a website, but it made me suspicious because this was the entire email:
How much do you charge for private sessions? How long are they usually?
It made me suspicious because when most people ask about private instruction they tell me where they are, what injuries or conditions they have, how they found me, what they are looking for, among other things. Their emails are not two sentences. What also made me suspicious was that it came from a [first and last name]yoga.com. I don't want to give the name because I don't want to give this woman any type of publicity.
I googled her name and found a very professional looking website that was, in my opinion, too slick and a bit over the top, a website that buried you with information. The young woman bills herself as "Teacher * Scholar * Consultant * Yoga * Transformation * Sustainability."
Uh, me too.
I responded: "Why do you want to know that when you are a yoga teacher yourself and not someone in my local area looking for private yoga instruction?"
Ms. Yoga Expert immediately emailed a one sentence reply:
"I am looking to hire Yoga teachers, and gauging further inquiries and
potential offers according to responses to the questions I asked you."
When I read that sentence I thought "yogabot." Now is it just me or is this woman disingenuous? Why wasn't she up front about her real intentions in the first email? Why wasn't her subject line "yoga teachers wanted" instead of "private yoga instruction"? As far as I'm concerned, she lied and she's dishonest. As a "scholar", shouldn't she know how to word an email so as not to make the person receiving the email suspicious? But what do I know? I only graduated summa cum laude so I don't know if that makes me a scholar.
Something about the tone of her emails and even her very professional looking website made my skin crawl. I really wanted to email her back and tell her that and some other things, but of course, that would not be very yogic of me.
I don't belong here. I need to find my own yoga tribe.