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Too Many Yoga Teachers?

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Yoga Teachers?

Amy Ippoliti: Too Many Yoga Teachers? via prAna Life

Where I live in Boulder, CO, almost everyone I know is a yoga teacher.  

Except in a few rural areas, you may have noticed that there’s a yoga studio on every corner and regular teacher trainings are pumping out more and more yoga teachers each day.

With this surge of yoga teachers, many wonder, “Is there room for me, and will I ever make it in this career?”

I have a recurring conversation with instructors in Boulder. It goes something like this:

Yoga Teacher:  Amy, I’m so frustrated with the yoga scene. There are just too many teachers, I can barely get gigs, my classes aren’t filling, and trying to stand out is exhausting! It seems like we’re all fighting over the same students. I want to quit.

Me: I totally hear you. Are you leading beginner series? And do you have basic drop-in classes on your teaching schedule?

Yoga Teacher: No.

Me: OK. What’s the population of Boulder? It’s about 101,000 people, right?  How many of those 101,000 do you think are practicing yoga?

Yoga Teacher: Hard to say, but definitely not all of them. I don’t know, maybe 20,000?

Me:  Exactly. Why not reach out to the 81,000 in Boulder who have yet to try yoga? There is plenty of yoga but there are also plenty of students who need you.

Amy Ippoliti: Too Many Yoga Teachers? via prAna Life

Image via Coldwater Photography

There is no excuse for complaining about yoga teacher saturation!

Why compete for the same yoga students when you can teach the billions of people who have yet to try yoga?

Yes…there are 7 billion people on the planet. And how many of those actually do yoga? Not a whole lot! Those people are waiting to try yoga and waiting for you to teach them.

Doctors are recommending yoga to their patients for relief from back pain and stress. Athletes and the elderly are waiting for someone to introduce them to yoga safely. 

If you want to succeed, both newer and veteran teachers alike must constantly nurture a steady flow of brand new students. Think of a lake. If the streams flowing into the lake dry up, the lake becomes stagnant, and water can only seep or evaporate out.  

In the same way, if we neglect to reach out to brand new students, we’ll end up teaching the same yoga students as our peers and face a dwindling student base.  

Existing students may move, get sick, pass on, and lose interest in yoga. You have to create a steady stream of new faces coming in. Having a beginner series provides an entry point for a brand new student to come into your world.

From a beginner series, a student will often fall in love with the practice, as you did, and matriculate into group classes, private lessons, workshops/series and all your other offerings.  

Serving beginners doesn’t just eliminate the “problem” of over saturation. It also turns more people on to a yoga practice and lifestyle. Teaching beginners means more people doing yoga!

If I were to generalize, I would say that yogis tend to be pretty conscious as a culture and as a community. Not all who practice yoga are saints, but most of them are working to be better people, to live an ethical, loving life, and to leave the planet better than they found it. This is good for the world.

In 2011, I had one of those “light bulb” ideas in the shower. I realized that through teaching an online course I could formally help other teachers around the world in learning how to serve beginners. 

Through 90 Monkeys, our online/in-person school for yoga teachers, we created the course and taught about 300 yoga teachers internationally how to organize, create curriculum, and teach beginner series in their communities. As a result these teachers led multiple series, many of which filled to capacity with wait lists!

Nine months after the course, we surveyed these teachers on how many series they were able to host and how many students in total they had served so far.

We learned that collectively these 300 teachers, (by offering anywhere from 1-4 beginner series that year), had introduced approximately 13,000 brand new students to yoga!

That’s a lot of new yogis on the planet

Amy Ippoliti: Too Many Yoga Teachers? via prAna Life

Image via Tony Felgueiras Photography

OK, that’s great, but how do you plan and get the word out about a beginner series?

Because you most likely are reaching out to a totally new audience whom you do not know, you’ll want to spread the word through networking and promotion. If you’re one of those people who shies away from marketing, now is the time to lean into this skill and remember the incredible value yoga brings to people’s lives!

Here are my top 5 tips for spreading the word about your series with success:

1. Let your people know

Word of mouth is your biggest asset. Announce the series in your regular classes. Email your current students, friends, family and everyone you know. Ask them to spread the word to those they know who are new to yoga – tell them about the benefits of yoga and why your series will help their loved ones. Your current students are your best advocates for your teaching, but if you are new to an area, you’ll have to begin with good old-fashioned “networking”. Even if it means starting random conversations with the mailman!

2. Get the word out on social media if you use it

Post regularly on your social media accounts about your Beginners Series. Don’t be shy about posting! Make a CTA (call to action) that specifically asks people to share, re-tweet and post about your series.

3. Feature the series on your website

Put your beginner yoga series info in a prominent place on your website, the studio’s website, your Facebook Page and any other online outlet available. And link to it!

4. Link to your series in your email signature.

Even if you aren’t emailing a prospective yogi, include a link in your email signature that promotes the course. You never know who might be your next student!

5. Start marketing early and don’t get discouraged

Begin promotion of your series well in advance. Keeping a positive attitude and visualizing a yoga room filled to capacity can make a huge impact on your outcome. Get creative, stay inspired and don’t give up!

Keep reaching out to new students who need this practice and are ready to shift their lives – you are needed as a yoga teacher and leader. Ready, set, GO!

Amy Ippoliti: Too Many Yoga Teachers? via prAna Life

Do you have experience serving beginner yoga students, finding them, or running beginner series? Leave a comment and let’s work together to bring more students to the transformative practice of yoga!

~Learn more about Amy, prAna Ambassador & E-RYT500


Amy is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education serving both students as well as fellow yoga teachers. She co-founded, an online professional development school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Yoga International, Self, Origin Magazine, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), Elephant Journal, Intent, and many more. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute, Esalen and Kripalu. She is a regular presenter at the Yoga Journal Conferences, Omega Institute Conference, Wanderlust Festivals, and the Hanuman Festival. Since the age of 14, Amy has been a champion of all forms of eco-consciousness, animal conservation and more recent forays into marine conservation. Visit Amy’s Website | Hang with Amy on Facebook | Talk to Amy on Twitter | Pin with Amy on Pinterest | Share your pics with Amy on Instagram