Understandably, there is a fair amount of confusion regarding the salary of a yoga instructor in the US – are all yoga instructors Instagram models with expensive leggings and bottled water, or are they trying to find Zen in their parents’ basement?
For the vast majority of yoga instructors, the answer is somewhere in between. The average hourly wage of a yoga instructor in the US is just under $25. The average yearly wage is around $60,000. These figures are, however, national averages and so you can expect a yoga instructor to earn anything from $30,000 to well over $100,000 a year.
You also need to remember that an annual salary of $60,000 will go much further in some states than in others. Theoretically, you could surpass this national average income threshold by teaching 26 classes a week and be paid $50 a class. Don’t be fooled! $50 for a class is not a common payment for all yoga teachers!
Becoming A Yoga Instructor
In recent years the fitness industry has evolved an incredible amount. Fitness studios and gyms regularly appear all over cities and towns, offering well-rounded fitness.
Many of these new studios also offer programs to train their customers to become instructors. This is partly to help their studio compete with other, more well-established fitness centers but also because, from their standpoint, it is smart business.
A yoga instructor’s course from one of these establishments can easily cost $3,000, with some more prestigious studios offering courses for over $5,000. Frankly, if you are going to spend that much you are better off going for an immersive experience in Bali or India.
However, these courses have proved so popular that it has become increasingly difficult – as in almost impossible – to easily build up a clientele to become a dedicated instructor. You need to truly invest in your own yoga practice and commit fully to your yoga journey – your passion will be infectious, your students will pick up on it, and your business will soon boom.
The more you learn about yoga and its nuances, the better your teaching will be.
Add depth to your knowledge and benefit your personal practice and instruction by dipping your toes into as many styles of yoga as possible. Traditional yoga disciplines like Astanga Vinyasa, Hatha, and Iyengar yoga are still popular and are good orthodoxes to master, allowing you to curate your yoga teaching to get the best from your students.
The more yoga teachings you can draw from, the more immersive your classes will be. This is a sure-fire recipe for a great yoga teacher and is going to be invaluable on your journey to success.
Absorbing as much information about all aspects of yoga as you can is a win-win scenario. You, the instructor, will have an improved personal connection to your yoga practice and will be able to do more for your students than reading out a prepared script about breathing.
Your students will have the benefits of an instructor who oozes passion and is a fountain of yoga-knowledge who isn’t going to repeat the same manuscript again and again.
All this means that your studio will also love your yogic knowledge – your students are bound to be repeatedly coming back to you which means more revenue for them – which increases the likelihood of them giving you as many classes as you can handle.
Getting Your First Classes
The easiest way to do this is to regularly attend a yoga class or studio, interacting with the instructors and other members of staff. Once they recognize you and you have a good rapport with them, you are in a good position to ask about a paid position within the studio.
This could be an administrative or marketing role, or even better assisting at the next event or yoga classes they have planned.
Experience in any field is always invaluable as it will give you a better understanding of the market as your own instructor business grows. You will also have a lot of time to network and make connections with other yoga instructors, hopefully increasing the chance of your big break and getting yourself an established class in a studio.
Know Your Worth
Once you are a yoga instructor who is brimming with experience, yoga wisdom, knowledge, and technique, you need to decide how much your time and classes are worth.
Remember that yoga instructors do not get paid to walk in five minutes before their class starts and skulk off as soon as it is over. You get an hourly pay to be completely present with your students.
The most successful yoga instructors stay and communicate with their students – chaturanga tips around a water cooler at the end of class, arranging classes for restoration when needed, and just generally genuinely interacting with the studio’s paying customers.
Having the attitude that some chores are ‘beneath’ you because you are a super knowledgeable yoga instructor now will not get you anywhere. Creating a Zen space by tidying up any mislaid props or straightening out the room and seeking a genuine connection with your yoga students is never unimportant to a good yoga instructor.
Keeping humble will help your students engage with your classes, meaning your classes will be more successful, meaning the studio will want to keep you on for as many classes as possible. Staying humble will also make you more pleasant to deal with from the studio’s perspective too!
This also works the other way too – knowing how much you are worth will prevent studios from taking advantage. When you become this super knowledgeable yoga instructor with enough humility to engage with their students you must be sure that studios and fitness centers are not underpaying you.
At the end of the day, a studio looks to reduce costs wherever possible, and that can often be at the detriment of its instructors.
Payment for yoga instructors, or indeed any fitness instructors, can vary greatly. Generally, you can expect around $40 a class from a small studio and around $50 from a larger organization. Some studios will also offer a few more dollars for every additional student you can bring in over a set threshold. For example, a typical incentive would be $2 for every student in your class over 11.
If you take heed of the above tips and let your experience speak for itself, you are far more likely to be able to ask for more per class – think $70. Your rates for private yoga lessons can be around this figure too, just make sure you follow any rules that your state sets for private personal training.
Remember not to set your prices too high too early as this will isolate you in the market and make your classes unpopular. You can of course charge more if you are traveling to clients’ homes or if you offer bundles as part of a yoga package.
Keep in mind that not all studios will pay in the same way. Some will offer a flat rate with some additional incentive to increase foot traffic, discussed above, but others will charge a flat hourly rate, a minimum wage, a flat salary, or indeed a combination of all three.
Keep Your Business Going
Thinking outside of the box is a fantastic way to keep your business alive by continually injecting some excitement, preventing your yoga classes from becoming stagnant.
Try to grow your business outside of the classroom by offering additional workshopping events or yoga retreats. You can even do your own yoga teacher training courses if you have the right qualifications.
You will quickly find that an experienced yoga instructor can earn hundreds and thousands of dollars outside of the classroom, including through creating an online presence and the elusive brand affiliation. Once you are at this level, you can expect several hundred dollars from a single post on your social media accounts.