It is pretty amazing how now a days being a full time yoga teacher is a respectable sought after career. I myself, have gone down the teaching path; I became a RYT 200 certified yoga teacher in 2012. There is something life changing about participating in a yoga teacher training program. The time spent focusing on yourself that a YTT program requires is priceless and something that I find most of us avoid on our own. I will forever recommend joining a YTT program, even if you do not plan on teaching. You will learn so much about yourself/life that no one teaches or really talks about (from my experience).
The thought of teaching again often crosses my mind. I am a forever student and I know at some point I will lead again. As for now, I will continue to honor my practice and the space that all the wonderful teachers provide. With teaching comes great responsibility, sacrifice, and a whole lot of love.
Being a full time yoga teacher is an act of bravery and a true commitment to the practice and one’s self. I admire someone who is able to teach multiple classes in one week, let alone one day. To be able to live in this fast paced society, while at the same time being gentle and mindful to a room full of students, it is not easy. I am curious to know what it is really like being a full time yoga teacher. Is it worth the low pay, no benefits, sometimes competitive and petty world?
Beth James has been a full time yoga instructor for over 12 years now. Her mom took her to her first yoga class around 19 years old. What kept her coming back to yoga was Shavasana. She liked the meditative space yoga provided to be able to feel relaxed. Growing up, Beth had always been drawn to the not so ordinary things in life like spirituality and travel. She studied anthropology in college. Her plan was to attend grad school and eventually teach. Before grad school, she traveled to Asia, Australia and New Zealand. This was a trip that changed the course of her life. After her trip it was clear that she wanted to teach yoga.
In 2004, Beth joined a teacher training program at Center for Yoga. Beth’s lifestyle began to align with Yoga. During training it is required to give up alcohol. This was a big realization for Beth and how she thought she needed alcohol to be herself. She engrossed herself within the yoga community teaching and being a student.
The Realty of Being a Yoga Teacher:
There are many life lessons that come along with a career that requires great depth and presence. Being a yoga teacher is a commitment to the practice and the lifestyle. There is great wisdom to be learned about how to be gentle, allowing space, practicing non-judgment and accepting one’s self. A new teacher will often find it to be stressful being a non-perfect human and preaching such an ethical practice.
A new teacher will be humbled through time. A lot of people who are attracted to yoga need healing. Teachers are not therapists, therefore boundaries are important to learn. A yoga teacher is responsible for holding the space to let energy move. The best class is when you are not projecting yourself on the class. When you teach what is authentic to you vs what you think people will like. You will not please everyone in the class, it is important to move past yourself.
Sometimes becoming a yoga teacher can have adverse affects that are not anticipated in the beginning. Teaching a lot of classes is hard to not feel burnt out, which is required to make a living. Your personal practice changes. Turning the teacher brain off during class can be difficult. The personal development required and growth being a teacher is a constant.
Money and the Business of Yoga
Starting out as a yoga teacher is both an exhilarating and stressful time. As a new teacher, it is difficult to make much more than $25 per class with no benefits. A yoga teacher has bills, a house and a family just like everyone else. The low pay almost doesn’t make it worth it to teach. It is necessary to do other things to supplement the low income a teacher makes. Beth does private teaching, corporate teaching, nanning, dog walking and house sitting to make more money.
It is difficult to come up with the right answers for the business of yoga.
You can make pretty good money from a studio that pays per head and has a lot of students. You can also make more money doing corporate classes. It takes time to gain the cliental and corporate jobs. Just being a yoga teacher is going to be difficult without help from otheres. Social media has allowed much more yoga teachers to become famous and make more money. It does get abuse, but again, with every good thing there is bad. It has opened lots opportunity for people.
Why Become a Yoga Teacher?
The reality is, is that a yoga teacher is still human. People assume that a yoga teacher is fully enlightened. We expect darkness to not exist at a yoga studio, however to be human, there is darkness.
Sometimes people put the teacher on this pedestal, we assume they are practicing what they preach. It can be disappointing to see the human inside a teacher, we are all working through our own stuff. With wisdom comes the knowing that perfection does not exist.
There are many reasons why Beth loves to teach yoga. Beth finds passion in seeing the transformation of her students at the end of a yoga class. She enjoys the feeling of seeing people unwind and relax during class, leading retreats and at her festival. She is able to receive a lot of love and gratitude in moments when she hears how she has changed someones day and sometimes even their life. The relationships made among the yoga community is so important to feeling connected and a part of something for the greater good.
To be able to contribute something positive in peoples lives in really sweet.
The more real we are with our students, the more relatable and connected we are to our students. Some of her favorite teachers are those who are not afraid to be seen, who are funny about their own lives. Everything has a good and a bad affect, including yoga.
Barefoot and Free Yoga Festival
Beth is the founder of the Barefoot and Free Yoga Festival at Proud Lake State Recreation Area, located in Commerce Township . The woods holds a dear spot in Beth’s heart. As a yoga teacher, most of her time is spent being extraverted. She would visit Proud Lake and experience her need to center and connect with herself. In 2014, Beth attended a wedding at Proud Lake and felt it would be cool for yoga. She would frequent the park and felt the woods were telling her to do it. There was a lot of resistance from fear, but after meditating and feeling the push, she began to slowly pursue it. One year later the first festival was born. She set up a website and relied on great friends to teach.
The festival has grown tremendously just in the past 3 years. The foundation of Bare Foot and Free is built upon her friends and the yoga community. Today the festival is going on its 4th year with famous artists such as East Forest and over 40 teachers such as Faith Hunter and Sean Phelps. The festival hosts over 1,000 students and offers different comfortable sleeping options and packages for a relaxed weekend.
Beth’s mission is to bring different yoga communities together. She wants everyone to feel what the woods at Proud Lake provides; to realign and center as one community. To learn more about Bare Foot and Free here.
Beth also hosts retreats all over the world and is hosting a retreat in Greece this October!!! Click here for more information on Greece. Follow and connect with Beth James on her active Instagram or Facebook.