Anyone who teaches yoga or owns a yoga studio knows that very few people become wealthy in this business. It’s just a fact that we accept, likely because sharing yoga makes us rich in so many other ways. Now, if you’re not a yogi and you’re reading this, you’re likely rolling your eyes at that terrible cliché. But it’s true. Yoga is incredible.
The Challene of Running a Yoga Studio
A great blog titled, Why Yoga is a Broke A** Business, talks about the fact that yoga teachers and studio owners are struggling to earn a living wage. To demonstrate the point, the author tells the story of a very popular yoga instructor who headlines festivals, sells books, and teaches in different cities across the world. This instructor is incredibly famous and the best at what she does, but the studio she owned in New York went out of business because, well as the blogger says… it’s a broke business. This story has to be disheartening for studio owners who aren’t nearly as famous but still want to share their love of yoga.
But it can be different. Instructors and studio owners need to treat yoga like any other commoditized service. Running a successful yoga studio is like running any other business, regardless of the fact that what you are teaching is priceless. Browsing Yoga Forums, a resource for yoga instructors and studio owners, I came across a statement the sums up the business aspect of owning a studio. The writer said:
"A yoga studio is just a business that happens to offer yoga classes as a service. It is not a collection of yoga classes that happens to need some business stuff going on in the background."
The quote drives home the point that studio owners need to be business minded and looking for ways to earn more revenue. Success will come from seeking out new revenue streams with gusto. That’s the only way you’ll be able to run a successful yoga studio and continue sharing the love of yoga with your communities.
How to Find New Revenue Streams
The perfect answer to the challenge of finding new revenue streams is running a yoga teacher training program. Teacher training programs are usually the most lucrative revenue source a studio can have. Expected revenue varies based on where you’re located, how experienced or well known your instructors are, and whether your program is a specialty program or a general 200-hour program. On average, general programs run between $2,000 – 4,000 per student. Specialty training programs, like Pre-Natal Yoga, Kid’s Yoga, or Yoga Nidra run from $400 -$1,500 per student.
A recent Yogi Times article shared success tips for studio owners. In the article one studio owner said he brings in an additional $25,000 per quarter with his teacher training program. The studio owner, Aaron Goldberg, explained the additional income helps him afford a higher rent and a stocked retail shop, which in turn helps drive additional revenue. In his experience, he’s found that teacher training programs are the only way to be successful and grow as a yoga business.
The article, The Economics of Yoga, tells a similar tale. The studio owner in this story was a high-profile investment banker who left his stress-filled job to open a yoga studio. The key to success, he says, isn’t in offering a full class schedule. It’s in creating “sustainable and scalable revenue streams that help you stay competitive,” as his teacher training program does.
So, How Do You Get Started with a Training Program?
To help, we’ve outlined the steps you need to take. Although the process might seem daunting, it’s not. You need talented instructors, time to plan the program, and some marketing skills to get the word out. That’s all.
But before we dive in, it’s important to note the recent debate about possible state regulation of yoga teacher training programs. At this time, the Yoga Alliance is the dominant regulatory body for teacher training programs and yoga instructors. States like Colorado put the possibility of state regulation to a vote, and the measure was denied. It’s expected we’ll see more outcomes like this, but it’s impossible to say for sure. No matter which agency or regulatory body oversees teacher training programs in the future, a process like the one we outline below will be necessary.
How to Launch a Yoga Teacher Training Program
To start your training program, you need to apply with the Yoga Alliance for your Registered Yoga School (RYS) designation. The Yoga Alliance review process is designed to ensure a standard curriculum that is taught by Experienced Registered Yoga Teachers (E-RYT). Only teachers who complete a program at an RYS school can go on to be certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with the Yoga Alliance. For that reason, the RYS designation is crucial to a program’s success.
You will need to plan your curriculum and teacher roster before applying with the Yoga Alliance. If you are following along with this blog to launch your first teacher training program, it’s safe to assume you will start by launching a 200-hour program. For that reason, we’ll only talk about that level of program going forward. If you happen to be interested in establishing a 300-hour or higher program, you can easily find the information you need here.
A curriculum for the 200-hour program must be built on five general areas of learning:
Techniques, Training, and Practice- 100 hours
Teaching Methodology- 25 hours
Anatomy and Physiology- 20 hours
Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle, and Ethics- 30 hours
Practicum- 10 hours
To plan your curriculum, the Yoga Alliance provides a handy worksheet with examples that will set you up for success. Within the general areas, you are free to plan your classes, lessons, and objectives.
For a teaching team, you will need E-RYTs that are more experienced and certified at a higher level than that of your training program. The Yoga Alliance establishes this requirement to ensure all programs are staffed with teachers who can “safely and competently” instruct your trainees. Since you are you are launching a 200-hour program, your instructors need to be E-RYT 200 or higher. You will also need to designate one or two of your teachers as Lead Trainers, or primary trainer(s), for your program. The Yoga Alliance has a helpful video that explains the Lead Trainer designation more fully, but the concept is designed to ensure consistency and cohesiveness within the program. Because of that, 200-hour programs only allow for a maximum of two Lead Trainers.
Once you plan your curriculum and instructors, you can begin the registration process within your existing Yoga Alliance (RYT) account. With the preplanning already complete, the actual registration is a matter of uploading your information, paying the $400 fee, and waiting for approval. The Yoga Alliance says the approval process takes a couple weeks so that a teacher training program can be created and approved very quickly.
As you wait for approval from the Yoga Alliance, you can work on your marketing plan for the upcoming program. Social media is a great way to get the word out in your community, and we have helpful blogs and resources to keep you up to date on the most effective ways to use it.