It doesn’t take a vast amount of experience in the yoga world to know that yoga instructors are a different breed. Some of the very qualities that make them wonderful instructors can also hamper their ability to effectively market themselves to potential employers, such as yoga studio owners like myself. While yoga is typically portrayed as a very relaxed, calm, and even casual type of activity, many of the rules for finding work in this field are the same as they are in more conventional areas of employment. However, there are some nuances to marketing yourself to yoga studios; knowing how to navigate this process is the key to finding a successful and lasting partnership with a yoga studio that fits your needs, personal style, and ultimate career goals as an instructor.
Know the Studio
Before you even begin to take the first steps toward applying to a particular studio, you need to know what makes that studio unique—what are its values, goals, and vision? Sharing the same vision as the studio to which you’re applying is one of the most important factors in finding a good fit. Just as we want to know that you are a good fit for us, you should be sure that we are a good fit for you. No matter how desperate you are to find a studio where you can teach, choosing a studio that is not a good fit for you will not benefit either party in the long run.
Each studio has its own culture and personality, and you can create a connection to the studio by attending classes, chatting with students, staff, and instructors, and looking at the website. Pay attention to what you notice about the heart and soul of the studio, and use that information to create a relationship. Starting off with a relationship to the studio will show the studio owner that you are genuinely interested in working for that particular studio, and that sincerity will help you get a foot in the door.
First Impressions Matter
If you are a local teacher, sending an email inquiry is an impersonal start to what is ideally a more personal relationship. Sending an email to a studio that is in your area is skipping the very first important step of getting to know the studio. After you have taken the time to acquaint yourself with the various aspects of the studio listed above, show up in person, clean and neat, with your resume in hand; this demonstrates from the very start that you care enough to make the effort of coming down to the establishment and forming a relationship.
That being said, be aware of all interactions you have once you arrive at the studio. The staff who work the front desk are the eyes and ears for management. Consider all interactions you have with any staff to be the first step of the hiring process, whether it’s when you are dropping off a resume or just taking a class. Take a moment with the front desk staff to chat, assuming they are not busy helping students, and make an impression. I make a habit of asking my staff for their experiences with potential hires before I set up an interview.
There is one exception to the advice I give about email inquiries: reaching out electronically is often necessary if you are coming from out of the area and want to get a head start on a teaching position. When crafting an email to a yoga studio, I recommend putting something like “Seasoned Teacher Relocating to Your Area” in the subject line. This is because new teachers who are relocating will very seldom catch my attention, unless they teach something unique such as prenatal yoga, MBSR, or Yoga Nidra. Highlighting your specialized teaching abilities or that you are a veteran teacher will help get the studio owner’s attention. Regardless, I always recommend that your email inquiry indicates you have done your homework by being tailored to the specific studio.
Once you have your foot in the door with a studio, it is important that you know who you are as an instructor when you come to interview. One of the first questions I ask a potential hire is, “What do you love to teach”? When instructors respond that they love to teach “everything”, it is a red flag for me. Not because I doubt that it’s a true statement—I already know that you most likely have a true passion for teaching yoga—but because it doesn’t help me to get to know the instructor’s style and specific areas of expertise. In contrast, seasoned teachers tend to have a more substantive answer, even if they truly do love to teach everything.
An example of a response that gives me a sense of what this teacher has to offer would be “I love teaching a diverse range of classes. My approach to teaching is to use the cues and hold space so that body awareness is central to the experience I offer my students. I particularly enjoy teaching slow flow classes with this objective.” This response gives me an idea of what the instructor values, what kind of experience students can expect in class, and what type of class would be best for this person to teach. In short, I get an idea of how she or he would fit into the yoga studio.
If you can find a way to identify your strengths, particularly the types of classes or styles you are strongest at leading, you will be able to more effectively promote yourself as an instructor. I would recommend asking previous students of yours, or even friends or family whom you have instructed in the past, for feedback on what your strengths and weaknesses are. This information will not only benefit you in your search for a position at a studio but also in your class instruction once you find a studio.
When you come to introduce yourself and speak to staff, be sure to ask them how to follow up on your inquiry. Making an impression on the desk staff won’t make a difference if you aren’t able to get in contact with whoever does the hiring. A follow up call or email speaks volumes. Thank people for their time, show your enthusiasm, ask about meeting in person if you haven’t met the person who does the hiring, and ask for feedback.
The best piece of advice I can give is this: if you want to be taken seriously by a potential hirer, then think yoga professional, not yoga hobbyist. Although yoga studios are a place of self-discovery, relaxation, and spiritual connection, they are still businesses. It is important to remember that in order to be successful as a studio, the owner must make decisions that will be best for the company—and proving yourself as a responsible, conscientious, and dedicated person will be the most beneficial step you can take toward proving that hiring you would be the right decision for the studio.
Please, do let me know if you would like follow up on this blog. My next blog will offer insight on how to make the most of your interview class. I also offer Skype sessions for yoga professionals.
Diane Butera is a studio owner, instructor, and yoga consultant. Her studio, Eugene Yoga, was founded in 2010, and has grown to two locations, with more than 30 instructors. Her studio has recently received three distinguished awards for best studio in Eugene, Orgeon. Diane thanks her community of teachers and students, as well as her husband/co-owner, Lou Butera, for their commitment and support. She is on the staff of Yoni Speaks, a yoga consulting firm. To contact her email firstname.lastname@example.org.