I remember the last weekend of my yoga teacher training so vividly. My future as a yoga instructor finally felt real. The aches and pains from doubling up on yoga classes during training weekends were starting to fade. I felt strong and I felt ready.
During the last training weekend, we had our first and last session on the business of yoga. This was the first time learned what I would need to do to secure a teaching position at one of my top choice studios. This was also the first time I heard the words “offer to teach/assist for free”.
By no means do I consider myself an experienced teacher. By all means do I consider myself someone who is worthy of being compensated for the time, preparation, and effort I put in to teach a class.
This brings me back to question: Should you teach for free? After all, if you consider teaching yoga your job, would you want to work for free? There are many reasons why you might decide to teach for free (or not). I’ve outlined a few of them below as well as my decision not to teach for the time being.
Reasons to Teach Yoga for Free
1. You are teaching a class for a charitable cause.
If you decide to teach a yoga class to raise money for a cause you believe in, teaching for free is an act of service. Similarly, if you choose to teach yoga at an organization that does not have the resources to compensate you but you support its mission, your yoga class is a contribution to the community.
2. You want to gain experience on your own terms.
Since March, many people have been staying home and are looking for a way to relax, stay moving, and tap into their inner thoughts. Organizing classes for family and friends through social media is an option to gain experience teaching. It also allows you to set your own schedule and get creative with sequencing.
3. You want to teach for free.
Simply put, if you desire to teach for free and it brings you joy, why not teach?
Reasons Not to Teach for Free
1. You need to make money.
If you plan to teach yoga as a source of income, teaching for free will not get you there.
2. You would like to be compensated for teaching.
Preparing for a yoga class takes time. Creating sequences and playlists and making it sure it all flows together smoothly won’t happen in just a few minutes. If you believe that you should be paid for your efforts, you should not teach for free.
3. You would like to be compensated for teaching in the long run.
If you are building a business as a yoga instructor, offering classes for free may help you to attract an audience. However, if you want this same audience to pay you at some point in the future, think again. If people are accustomed to accessing your content and classes for free, it’s possible they will be reluctant to pay for it in the future.
Why I’ve Decided Not to Teach for Free
It was a tough decision not to teach for free. Obviously no one saw a pandemic in the future when I graduated from yoga teacher training last December. With most indoor group activities on hold, I made the decision to teach virtual classes for free for a while. I’ve decided not to teach for free at the moment for a few reasons. With in-person classes, you feel the energy in the room. There is an unparalleled liveliness to practicing yoga in the company of others. Virtual classes, on the other hand, feel empty to me. Talking to a camera in a room does not bring me joy. Editing videos is not how I choose to spend my free time. And if I have two free hours on a Saturday, I’d much rather spend it practicing yoga than creating playlists and sequencing. That’s how I feel right now. I recognize that my feelings may change in time, but they also might not. And that’s ok. Overall, there are good reasons to and not to teach for free. I’m sure this is a question I’ll revisit later.