I don't intend for this post to be a "have pity on me" post. I just think some perspective is important.
I often find myself wanting to share my actual work schedule with people. Sure you can access my public, group yoga class schedule on this site. Teaching 15-20 60 minute classes a week might not seem like much, however, that schedule doesn't take into account the other time I put in at the studio, my drive time between various studio locations, countless hours I put into developing curriculum for my classes, and effort it takes to promote my classes, workshops, retreats, and myself through various outlets. Again, don't pity me, I have a job I love and often slap myself mentally whenever I complain about my schedule.
But this isn't about my schedule. This is about working in an industry that is hard. Don't let Instagram fool you. Being a full-time yoga teacher isn't all about doing yoga on a beautiful beach while wearing your cutest bra top with mala beads wrapped around your wrists. Being a full-time yoga teacher is about hustling for years to get enough classes to pay the bills so that you can someday quit your job in the service or retail industry. Like clockwork, once you finally think you can quit that part-time job the studio(s) you work for will go through some type of management change, rebranding, or straight up close. Suddenly you'll find yourself back at square one.
It's been a while since I've been in the place of losing classes. If a class was taken off my schedule over the last couple years it was my choosing. However, this last week reminded me that nothing is permanent. Although I might have classes full of regular, recurring students I'm not immune to change.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to catch up with a fellow teacher. She told me she recently lost a handful of classes due to a studio changing its schedule. A few days later I got word one of the oldest yoga studios in Minneapolis had shut its doors. Although I wasn't invested in that studio's community it broke my heart to hear the news. I had so many fond memories of studying with my teacher when he was in town and hosting workshops in that space. My heart broke for the many teachers who had invested so much time and energy in developing that community. To top it all off I found out from a friend who teaches in Georgia that she was removed from all eight classes that she teaches at one studio.
Yoga teacher isn't a special occupation. I realize all at-will employees are at the mercy of the owner or company they work for and are at risk of losing their job without notice. It's just heartbreaking to see those who have worked so hard to develop their craft constantly feel the pain of uncertainty and doubt.
It's definitely hard out there for a yoga teacher, however, if you are a yoga teacher I hope you stick with it. Even through the ups and downs and failures and successes. There's a reason you were called to share this yoga thing. To those of you who practice yoga and are yoga consumers, please continue to practice. Remember why you make it to your yoga mat. Remember how you feel at the end of your favorite teachers' classes. Rather than splurging on the latest and greatest yoga pants consider hiring your yoga teacher for a private lesson. There's a good chance their hourly rate is cheaper than the pants. And there's an ever greater chance the benefits from your private lesson, or even a group class you attend, will outlast the yoga pant's lifespan.