Teaching Yoga Full-Time in California
is simultaneously the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. I’ve had people walk out in the middle of class and ask for their money back. I’ve had people come up to me after class completely blown back by what I taught that day. I’ve also had people that I could tell didn’t enjoy my class or felt that something was missing in it, but don’t mention anything. I think a lot of people have really enjoyed themselves in my class, but think about the spectrum of reactions to different forms of art and you start to get a general idea of the types of response my yoga teaching gets.
At the end of the day, I realize that my class is valuable and that my particular subjective take on yoga is simply one subjective view; but that also gives me a lot of room to create my art. That is why I feel comfortable teaching yoga full-time; I’ve practiced enough to feel as though I should be a guide for others. I draw upon multiple teachers, a journey through India and into Southeast Asia, a journey through China, and my junior year of studying in Paris to create something that I consider invaluable; expressions of peace, love, and life. My yoga is definitely unique and constantly evolving. But, at the end of the day, letting go of “my yoga” is just as important as anyone else letting go of their ego while practicing yoga.
Full-Time Yoga Teaching
Over the last two weeks I have pushed myself pretty hard. I’ve taught 9 classes in 5 days and 10 classes in a four-day weekend, which is quite a bit. I’m also working other jobs to make ends meet, so after this last week I have been exhausted. I’m aching to create music, but yoga is taking priority right now, which I like. I enjoy sacrificing one form of art for another. And it’s nice to have an excuse to practice extra yoga.
Make no mistake, yoga teachers are absolutely undervalued by our society. I blame a lot of this on the overly religious assholes out there like the evangelical ministers who prey of people’s weak beliefs in god to make money (check out this episode of “Last Week Tonight“, its great!) and other types of people who try to make spirituality into a profitable enterprise at the cost of their consumers. We are considered more or less exercise coaches that might have some experiences with meditation and spirituality. But in reality, there is a ton of sacrifice that goes into teaching yoga full-time that the majority of Yogins never see. Every class takes more effort than the time in the studio and many times it is at least an extra hour of work (not including driving). But at the end of a class, the reward of having happy people around you far outweighs the costs of what it took to teach yoga that day.
Making Ends Meet
I have recently added a Friday night Yin class to my schedule at East Wind Yoga in Auburn, CA and that means I will be teaching 5 classes each week, not including substituting for other teachers, which I do as often as I can. It’s about enough to pay rent and eat extremely minimally, so I have to find other work on the side, tutoring, doing odd-jobs, and most recently I’ve started driving for Lyft, though it’s not an everyday opportunity for me. This site is just getting close to breaking even, though it’s not very expensive because I do most development myself.
So it’s pretty hard to make a living wage as simply a yoga teacher. I think it will be possible in the future, but right now it’s not. That means I don’t get to spend all of my time on my art, which is a shame, but I have high hopes that yoga will become more respected in the near future. Plus, who knows, I’ll probably open my own studio eventually. First, I want to become a better teacher and build-up to sustaining myself by teaching yoga. Music will always be happening as long as I have extra time to spend learning and creating in front of my computer. Music has become a single pointed obsession, perhaps even more than when I first started practicing yoga. It’s as if I’ve found something I’ve wanted to do my entire life, except I’m 26 and have graduated from college and neither yoga nor music were things that I studied or cared about then. I’ve always loved music, but began making music when I was 24 after I downloaded a trial of Ableton Live. I played clarinet in third grade and it made me despise music, honestly. I feel like I found my passions a little too late in the game.
But alas, always in my mind there is hope and self-confidence and I will pursue what I feel called to do, which right now means teaching yoga on a full-time schedule and doing work on the side. Ramping up more and more to create sustenance for myself, then using what I can to fuel my musical and artistic endeavors. Obviously, writing will be a large part of this as well, and I’m just finishing a new painting. I’m also going to put out a podcast on Sundays with my friend Kyle, but we haven’t quite gotten started on that yet so don’t hold your breathe. Honestly, I just want to create all kinds of things over the next 60 years or so until I have to stop because I’m an old man or dead. It’s all about the future generations and creating for them. The youngsters and the kids.
It’ll take a few more weeks to get truly comfortable in an apartment by myself, cooking a lot, driving, etc, but I am definitely happy where I am. I get to ride my bike to teach two yoga classes today, which will be a blast in less-than-crowded streets of Sacramento! I really enjoy cities, especially after spending a lot of time in Paris when I was 20. Moving back to Sacramento is really a cool feeling, now it’s as if I am trying to affect and support the people who I grew up with in the place that I am from. It feel right, whatever the fuck that means.
I am sure that I will be happy over the next few weeks, for the pure joy of following things I love to do. Struggling makes me feel alive, I’ll always want a little bit of discomfort. I guess what is right feels good to me at this point, which means I am at least somewhat aligned with whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing here. Onwards and upwards I guess!