Teaching Yoga in Over-Saturated Markets

crowed yoga class
Photo Credit: Veganicat

For an increasing number of yoga practitioners, yoga is becoming a second career and a way to augment existing income. The increasing number of yoga instructors—70,000 in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available—has raised some concerns about over-saturation of the market in certain regions.

Yoga Journal’s publisher, Bill Harper, points to the recession and yoga’s skyrocketing popularity as a cause for this increase; in the past 8 years, circulation of Yoga Journal has increased nearly 300 percent, while most other print publications have decreased in circulation. Enrollment in yoga teacher trainings at Kripalu Center increased by 43 percent between 2008 and 2010, driven, comments Kripalu marketing coordinator Nicole Flisher, by trainees’ “desire to get out of the corporate rat race” or find more balance in the workplace.

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The considerable influx of yoga teachers is a boon to yogis everywhere, but some have experienced difficulty finding work. Instructor Stephanie Brail muses “I would not say that becoming a yoga teacher is a path to instant riches. The training can be very expensive, [and] it can be challenging to get classes at first.”  Brail’s experience was in LA, where she initially had to sub classes but eventually landed a regular teaching position.

In New York, however, where the market’s arguably equally over-crowded, instructor Liza Laird readily found work as a full-time yoga instructor when laid off from her corporate marketing job. Comments Laird: “It’s almost like yoga studios are becoming like Starbucks. There’s one on every corner now. So there’s plenty of opportunity for teachers—it’s just a matter of finding your way into the studio.”

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I live in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, a region hosting many devoted yogis. This is reflected by the number of studios and instructors, some of whom are drawn by Kripalu, the country’s largest yoga retreat center. Yet even here, I have yet to hear of difficulty finding teaching gigs or a lack of classes. Even though there may not be regularly scheduled classes initially available to new instructors, subbing is a fantastic way to become eligible for regular classes (and obtain valuable, needed experience).

Ultimately, no instructor will have the same experience finding teaching gigs, no matter what the region. Whether a new or seasoned teacher, if you find yourself in a saturated market, there are many creative and innovative solutions to teaching yoga that don’t involve starting in a studio or other structured setting. Some ideas include offering classes in various community settings, classes for special populations, marketing to local businesses or healthcare settings, or teaming up with healthcare specialists or other instructors to offer class series targeted to specific populations.

Are you a yoga instructor in a saturated market? What has your experience been in finding or creating yoga classes?

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