People teach yoga for different reasons. Some take it as an opportunity to deepen their own practice, while others do it out of a desire to share something magical. Still others feel called to teach yoga full-time and make it a career. Those of the latter group understand that to realize their dream, they don't just have to become yoga teachers, they have to become entrepreneurs as well. If you're interested in making a full-time career out of your practice, seek a yoga business coach using these tips to find the one that's right for you.
Get Clear About Your Goals
It's easy to get excited about finding a coach and making your dream come true, but the first step is less of an action and more of a meditation. It's also essential. Sit down (or do some asanas, ride your bike, or whatever helps) and get clear about what your goals are. Here are some useful questions to answer:
- Why do you want to become a yoga teacher?
- What lifestyle do you want to create? How does being a yoga teacher fit into and support that?
- How do you see your career changing as you grow and transform?
- What are your core values?
- What do you have to offer that is unique?
- What are your core desired feelings?
The purpose of this exercise is simple: to become clear on what you want to create. Once you've got it all down, keep going. Find your soul's deepest desire, and how that relates to what you're doing. Now choose a sentence that describes it (your primary intention) and keep that with you as you move forward.
Clarify What You're Seeking
The next clarity-conversation to have with yourself is about what qualities you're looking for in a yoga business coach.
- Do you want someone with a purely business-centered point of view?
- Are you looking for someone who understands the heart of yoga and takes an approach that encompasses that?
- Do you want someone who will challenge you and encourage you to push your boundaries, or someone who will gently encourage you?
- Are you looking for someone whose success you can imitate and learn from, or someone whose clarity of vision will help you see yourself and your career choices better?
When you are clear on what that is, it's time to start looking.
Plan a Budget
Another important step is to get clear on a realistic budget. The previous two steps should inform this decision. If you intend to become an internationally acclaimed teacher, then it might be worth hiring someone who charges big bucks as an investment in your long-term success. However, if you just need help getting out into your community and building strong ties there, maybe you don't need such a huge expenditure of resources to do that. It can be easy to get sweet-talked by really fantastic coaches who make big promises but aren't what you really need. Pick a budget that fits with your goals and find someone who can work within that.
Once you're clear on what you're looking for, you can begin finding the right person. The best way to start is by tapping the resources already available to you: the people around you. Ask people you trust if they have encountered any good yoga business coaches, and you may be surprised how many people know of someone who might fit the bill. Here are a few places to start:
- Your yoga community - You may have done this already. If you have, kudos. Reach out into the community of people you practice yoga with and ask for their recommendations.
- Yoga studios - Ask around at studios, especially those that are in-line with your style and philosophy of yoga. Talk to people, look at the bulletin boards, and get out into the wider yoga community. Look at that, you're already networking!
- Yoga teachers - Start with your yoga teachers, but don't stop there. Consider reaching out to already-successful yoga teachers you admire. They might be willing to give a few recommendations or would even consider mentoring you themselves (if that's what you want). Even if they don't know of a good coach, they may offer a few tips of their own, and you'll have made a valuable connection in the process.
- Successful businesspeople - Look for some "householder yogis" who run a successful business in a yogic way. Even if they don't practice yoga, they may understand the heart of what you're trying to create and be able to offer sound advice about the business world.
If your search hasn't yielded any results yet, you can still ask old Google for advice.
Use Business Coach Directories
Though there aren't any directories for yoga business coaches specifically, there are quite a few for business coaches. Here are some examples:
- Noomii - Noomi bills itself as the web's largest professional coach directory. It includes categories such as "Spirituality Coaches," "Leadership Coaches," and "Business Coaches."
- My Coach Match - This organization matches you with coaches in unique categories like "Business Life Coach," which blends business coaching and life coaching to help you harmonize and achieve your personal and business goals. You can also take the compatibility questionnaire and get matched with a coach.
- Worldwide Association of Business Coaches - This organization provides a list of coaches who are members. You can search by location, coaching specialty, or even by past clients.
- Women For Change Coaching Community - This unique non-profit organization offers discounted coaching services for women who are financially challenged (who have an annual household adjusted gross income of less than $40,000).
Ask in Yoga Forums
If you'd prefer to take a more yoga-focused approach, try asking about business coaches on yoga forums, like these:
- Yoga Teacher Training Forum - This platform offers discussion on a variety of yoga-centered topics, with a focus on those who have done or are doing their yoga teacher training. Check out the Business and Marketing category.
- Yoga Forums - Yoga Forums facilitates discussion on a variety of basic yoga-related topics.
- Yogi Source - This forum separates yoga discussion by type of yoga and has an all-inclusive area for yoga teachers.
Peruse Other Websites
You can also look on popular yoga websites that feature articles and reach out to any authors you find yourself drawn to with your question. Some websites might include:
- elephant journal - This is a popular website for articles on yoga, emotional health, and "non new-age-y spirituality." Many articles are written by and for yoga teachers. They have some articles about spiritually-centered business.
- Yoga Journal - One of the mainstream yoga magazines, it curates content on and off-line from yoga teachers and practitioners. They have a section for yoga teachers on "The Business of Yoga."
- Spirituality & Health - This magazine offers on and off-line content regarding yoga, spirituality, and health. There are many excellent yoga and spiritually-centered writers.
Vet Potential Coaches
When you reach out to potential coaches, it may feel like you're asking them to do you a favor. Keep in mind that you are interviewing them to decide whether they will help you meet your goals and whether you want to work with them.
Some questions to ask when vetting potential coaches might be:
- What is their experience as a businessperson?
- What is their experience with yoga?
- What is their experience as a business coach?
- What do they offer as a coach?
Evaluate the Answers
While you're speaking with them and after you're done, ask yourself these questions:
- Will they support you in realizing your primary intention?
- Do they have the qualities you need in a coach?
- Are they accessible and willing to help?
- Do they have an adaptable and personal approach?
- Do they have experience and expertise?
Now comes the hard part: deciding. Or maybe it's easy. Chances are, if you've talked with a number of people, there are a few (or even just one) you really connected with. Maybe the decision has even made itself. If you haven't found anyone you jive with, it's time to broaden your search and look in other places, as there's nothing worse for your business than a mediocre coach.
However, if you find yourself having trouble deciding who to work with, remember your primary intention and the list of what you're looking for in a coach. Relax and listen to what your body's telling you. While it's important to look at this decision rationally, it's even more important to trust your gut feeling. Your intuition tells you more about a person and your ability to work with them than a conversation or questionnaire ever could. Listen to that feeling.
Walking Your Path
Having a mentor is valuable, but it shouldn't replace your inner wisdom. Some of your mentor's advice will ring true in your heart, but some might not. While it's good to question your beliefs and expand your boundaries, only take what rings true to you. Remember your primary intention. Ultimately, you must walk your own path to becoming a successful yoga teacher and being true to yourself, your values, and your intention is what is most important. That's what makes you a real yoga teacher.