Job: Yoga instructor
The role: The primary role of a yoga instructor is to lead a class through poses and positions that help to improve a practitioner's strength, flexibility and mental focus. The job requires a deep understanding of the mechanics of the human body, as well as the various pose modifications that can be made to accommodate each student's experience and skills.
"They have to teach the appropriate class, and they have to teach and cue appropriately for who's in the class," said Dina Tsouluhas, co-owner and teacher at Moksha Yoga Montreal. "Depending on whether it's a bunch of beginners or seasoned practitioners, their cues will be different."
The role of a yoga instructor also extends beyond the classroom. Instructors need to constantly update their skills through regular anatomy and modification training. Furthermore, instructors are responsible for taking time before and after class to set up the room, make sure it's at the right temperature and answer any questions the students might have.
The salary: According to Ms. Tsouluhas, the salary of a yoga instructor ranges somewhat, depending on the size and location of the studio, but usually begins at about $45 for a one-hour session and increases by $5 per class each year up to a maximum of $75. Experienced yoga instructors are able to teach between 10 and 12 classes per week, and are also able to supplement their income with private and corporate classes, which range from $60 to $100 a session.
Education: Yoga practitioners require a lot of practice and training before they can become instructors, but even veteran teachers are expected to constantly add to their knowledge in the field. Ms. Tsouluhas says that those interested in becoming instructors should attend classes for at least a year in order to fully explore the type of yoga they want to teach, before enrolling in a one-month program.
"If you're interested in teaching, then you can start investigating schools to get your training, but first practise it," she said, adding that those who complete the programs are still not ready to begin teaching right away. "They have to do a lot of practice teaching until we feel they're safe to teach a class, and that might take another year."
Ms. Tsouluhas said that budding yoga instructors typically begin by offering free classes to family and friends, and then provide the occasional community class at a reduced price, before beginning a regular schedule.
"They're not going to start right away with 10 classes; they might start with a couple of the less busy classes," she said.
Job prospects: Finding work as a yoga instructor may depend heavily on location, as some parts of the country have a greater demand than others. Furthermore, because there are so many styles of yoga – moksha, ashtanga, hatha, Iyengar, and so on – demand will vary based on their popularity.
The Moksha or hot yoga community, for example, requires letters of recommendation from studio owners before would-be instructors can enroll in a training program. That way, Ms. Tsouluhas said, instructors will often be first in line for a job at the studio that made the recommendation. "If you're good, you'll get a job there," she said.
Challenges: The biggest challenge for yoga instructors, Ms. Tsouluhas said, is making enough money to turn a pastime into a viable career.
"If you want to do this full-time, you might not get the amount of classes you need to pay your rent," she said, adding that yoga instructors must find ways of "doing creative things with their talent, like private and corporate [classes]," in order to supplement their income. "Some yoga teachers also get training in massage therapy that helps them as a teacher but also helps supplement their income," she added.
Why they do it: Being a yoga instructor is a rewarding experience, and one that allows enthusiasts to pursue their passion. "Any teaching job is so rewarding. Being with the students in the class is an amazing experience; it's gratifying, there's a connection, and we learn also from the students," Ms. Tsouluhas said.
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