How To Become A Successful Yoga Instructor

For some yoga instructors, being successful can mean setting the tone for class, remaining a student, being authentic, embracing imperfection, and more.

By Tiffany Velasquez | Published


So, you want to be a successful yoga instructor? While this is a relative term, it is a goal for most people in all professions—to be successful. For those students who have graduated from yoga teacher training or those brave individuals who decide to venture into teaching without formal education, and are searching for a little extra inspiration on their never-ending journey toward success, read along. Like all things, take what resonates and leave what doesn’t.

Set The Tone For Class

Setting the tone for class is one vital element of being a successful instructor. For some yoga instructors, this may mean arriving to class 15 minutes early and getting set up. Set up could include turning on the music, turning down the lights, and lighting incense so the vibe is right when students arrive.

Setting the tone for class could also be as simple as rolling out your mat, bowing your head, saying a quick prayer, and giving gratitude ahead of your student’s arrival. Greet your students when they enter the yoga space and call them by name every chance you get. Students will remember the feeling you create and return to your class to keep feeling that. 

Always Be A Student

Remain a yoga student throughout your time as a teacher and maintain your personal practice. Just because you have graduated from one little yoga teacher training doesn’t mean you know everything. Continue to learn from other teachers, students, and anyone you feel drawn to learn from. Additionally, be a student of the history and origins of yoga. 

Finding a person in the yoga community that you look up to is also an excellent idea. Ask them to take you under their wing and mentor you. Continue to attend classes from other yoga instructors in various yoga styles to keep you on your toes. You’d be surprised just how much inspiration and knowledge you can gain from attending a yoga class taught by another instructor. 

Be Authentic

Many people have an image of what a yoga teacher is. You do not have to fit into any mold or conform to stereotypes. Be yourself, and your students will find you. (Not everyone will be your student, and that’s okay.)

Being authentic can look like playing your preferred music instead of the typical relaxing music in many classes. Being authentic can also mean sharing your story and how yoga has transformed your life. Sharing your experience can give people a way to connect on a personal level and see you as a human, not an all-knowing yoga teacher. 

Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Or Do

Many people who want to teach yoga often face burnout because they quit their job and try to teach countless studio or gym classes to keep the bills paid. Earning a living as an instructor is more than teaching classes at a local gym or studio. Teachers often have to get creative and have excellent marketing skills. 

While quitting your job could put an enormous financial burden on your shoulders, it could also be what you need to focus on and dive into your new career. To make enough money to cover your bills could mean creating an on-demand library for residual income, having consistent private clients, and creating your own workshops, courses, trainings, and retreats. Whichever you decide, consider both sides of the coin and choose accordingly. 

Get Out There And Teach

When teaching, create an inclusive environment, provide clear instruction without demonstrating each pose, offer students modifications, and always read the room. When you give a verbal cue, see how your students react. The more practice you have, the more you will grow and develop as a teacher, so get out there and lead those yoga classes! 

Watching your students and seeing how they respond to your instruction can indicate if you need to rework your words. Aim to provide instruction in as few words as possible. Remember that some students learn visually, but it is vital to be able to verbally instruct so that you can keep an eye on your students for safety. 

Do The Inner Work

Take the time to get to know yourself on all levels, the good, bad, and the ugly. Through the process of inner work, you can identify areas of yourself that you need to work on, areas that you need to strengthen, areas you need to let go of completely, and more. This process is continual. 

Doing inner work in holding yourself accountable for your actions, thoughts, and words. This is also a process of striving to be the best version of yourself. Learn from your mistakes, your successes, and from others, and never stop. 

Be Prepared… For Flexibility

 Being prepared for anything is vital to success. Being ready to be flexible is even more critical. Many yoga teachers spend hours preparing sequences and writing out lessons. While this is great, when it comes down to it, you have to read the energy of the room and teach the students in front of you at that moment.   

 Embrace Imperfection

You are human, and it is natural to make mistakes. You will never be a perfect yoga instructor, and that is okay. Be prepared to fumble over your words, cue the same side twice, forget your cord for the music, and even forget what in the world you just prompted together. 

Students will relate to you a lot more if you acknowledge your imperfections. Maybe you cue something, and it just comes out all wrong. Consider saying something like, “My mistake, let’s try that again.” From there, properly cue whatever it is that you were cueing. 

Define Success For Yourself

Well… What does success mean for you? What are your personal goals as a yoga instructor? Do you want to make a certain amount of money or make a particular impact on your students? Whatever success means to you, allow yourself to set the definition and nobody else.