This time two years ago I was showing up several times a week to a storefront out in Milwaukie (Oregon) filled with impressive looking Pilates equipment just hoping that someone would show up for yoga. It was my first official gig as a yoga instructor, besides this I had offered some free outdoor yoga and was putting in apprenticeship hours at a local studio.
Some days one person would show, usually none, and I think one day I was lucky enough to get two actually breathing humans in the same class.
That gig ended and I got a job at a aquatic center. Mine were brand new classes and no one showed up to these either. My low came one night when the manager suggested that I walk around the pool telling people about my classes if no one showed. Luckily that night a person came so I didn’t have to stoop over wet swimmers and try to explain to them how cool yoga was (although I probably would have done it!). I still have that gig and now it’s my favorite one. Two years later I have a steady stream of regulars, most of which I consider my friends.
I got more yoga gigs, I started teaching gentle/restorative yoga, and spent A LOT of time LEARNING how to teach soft instead of intense. I subbed for Hatha and learned how to teach without a bunch of flow.
I also learned to not care so much what other people think, but to follow my own intuition. I learned that you can’t please everyone and that’s okay. I learned that yoga is yoga, which sounds overly simple, but if I can manage to remember that while I teach, I’ll be okay. Yoga is yoga is yoga. Just teach yoga.
I scrambled to get jobs two years ago, now I have to turn some down. I have some corporate gigs where I go teach working professionals at their places of work after their shifts. I teach a class at a bouldering gym. I don’t have one actual ‘yoga studio’ job, but for me that feels like normal.
If I could say something to myself two years ago I would tell me not to give up. That’s definitely a message I’d love to pass on to any new yoga teachers out there who are just starting out. Yes, there will be criticism and countless jobs given to other more experienced teachers instead of you. That’s okay, just keep going. My experience hustling for yoga jobs has taught me the valuable lesson of working hard for something even though I though it was pointless at the time. I remember telling my friend at the time I just wanted so badly to tell these people I was auditioning for, “I can do it. Please let me just fly.”
I’m flying now in this whole yoga deal. It won’t last forever, I long to get a ‘normal’ 9 to 5 again, but I’m enjoying it for right now. I’m able to be with my son instead of sending him to day care and that means so much to me.
Wishing all of you out there to find wings and the space to try them out in.
~Peace & Namaste.