So, you want to be a yoga teacher?
Do you love people? I mean, really, love people? Are you comfortable with public speaking? Are you comfortable being a complete goof ball? Can you loosen up? Can you work the room? Meaning, can you match what you’re saying and doing based on who shows up?
And, why are you doing this?
Is it for the money? Or the endorsements on the cute yoga pants?
Or, do you want to go a bit deeper in your yoga studies?
Do you LOVE and I mean LOVE to teach?
I hope so.
I hope you’re going down this path because you want to go deeper. Because holy smokes, you’ll be going deeper.
If anyone tells you that you can quit your job to become a yoga teacher, laugh in their face. Maybe, maybe, this is possible. But it’s more like the ever-elusive musician challenge: about 500 people worldwide can do this full-time and support their families off of it. Most can’t. Most need a very nice supplementary income.
You don’t teach yoga for the money. And you don’t teach it for the goods. Or for the status, or ego.
You teach it because you are it. And there’s no other way around it.
If yoga is in your blood, you’ll most likely really want to teach it. You’ll most likely be called, over and over again, to teach, to share.
You will spend, at least at first, hours, and I mean hours, preparing your classes, your playlists (if you use them, I do), your theme and messaging.
And then, you’ll show up to teach, and who you thought your students would be, they don’t show up that day. And so the more challenging and faster flows, or the more meditative flows, they don’t work. And so, on the spot, you change. You have to be like water. Over and over again.
Which means you have to prepare multiple classes worth of information, of ideas. And you have to be willing to go with the flow. You have to lose the script, and you have to check your ego at the door.
And you’ll do this, all of this, for very, very, very little money.
Over time, that will change. You’ll feel more confident. Your hours of prep will most likely turn into an hour or two of prep. But you’ll never stop learning, or taking classes, or reading books, or studying up on anatomy and physiology and the sutras and Sanskrit terminology and meditation and mudras, and on, and on. This will become your life. Your free time will turn into hours upon hours of learning, of practicing, of meditating, of listening, and of peeling back the layers.
That learning might not necessarily be prepping you for the class you’re about to teach.
But it will make you a better teacher.
And you have to find your own voice. You’ll have your favorite teacher that you’ll try to copy, and you can’t copy them. Because you won’t sound authentic. You’ll come across as totally insincere. You must teach from what you know, from your life experiences, using your language and your skillset and your own sequencing.
So. Is this worth it to you? Do you have the time to put into this?
I often have friends ask me if they should become a yoga teacher. And I always say: yes, and no.
Yes, if you want to deepen your studies. If you want to make another set of lifelong friends. If you LOVE anatomy and you LOVE teaching and you LOVE helping others and you LOVE being creative with your sequencing. And if you’re willing to invest all of your free time doing this: studying, practicing, learning, going deeper.
No, if you’re looking for a job. No, if you’re looking for another way to bring in money. No, if this is a new hobby to you.
If you’ve known me for many years, you know that my interests are incredibly varied. And my hobbies are as well. I made jewelry for years, and sold at art festivals for years, and got so damn sick of it. And then I made ceramics for years, and never sold any because I quickly remembered how awful working the art festival circuit is, even if these days there’s Etsy and Instagram and other online shopping ventures. And now, for the past few years, it’s been yoga. It slowly crept into my life and year after year became stronger and more relevant and a bigger part of my life, until in 2015, I went through a teacher training.
After that, I couldn’t hide anymore. I had to teach. And I couldn’t stay in that corporate job. I needed the flexibility and the random schedule and enough alone time to plan, in order to build my classes and have more, better and deeper offerings. And I love it.
This does not pay the bills, not even close. In my last retreat to Mexico with Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith, Taro turned to me at dinner and said, so Jen, would you teach full-time if you could? Meaning, would this be your main source of income, if you could? And I laughed: who is that possible for? And he laughed back. He gets it, and so does Amy, even if she does teach full-time.
It’s not that possible.
And so, if it’s in your heart, do it anyway. Do it even if you’re not sure if you’ll make $100 a week. Do it anyway. If this is your passion, and your drive, and more than anything else, you want to teach, you want to share, you want to open your heart, then do it. Teach.
It’s gorgeous. It’s fulfilling. It’s humbling. And at times, it’s frustrating as hell. At times, you’ll teach your BEST class and only two people will have showed up. Or, you’ll plan a super juicy wonderful theme, and no one will show up. Or, you’ll stumble over your words, and your forget all of your fun and challenging sequences and you’ll mess up your rights and lefts, to a packed room of 30 yogis.
And you’ll drive home crying, unsure of what the hell you are doing with your life.
And that’s OK. Because even if one person shows, or no one shows, or you mess up, you’re learning and opening your heart and being incredibly vulnerable and living your truth.
My beautiful, dear friend Kila came over last week to learn some of my vegan recipes. This carrot cake was one of them. Kila is a yoga teacher here in Fort Worth, and her classes and sequencing and messaging will blow you away. She’s one of the absolute best, and she has a pure heart of gold. She asked me why I decided to become a yoga teacher, and I said: I was lost. I needed a community.
And holy shit. I found the best community. Truthfully, stepping into Urban Yoga was the best decision I have made in many years. Studying with Surya and diving head first into yogic philosophy, it changed everything for me. The Urban Yoga teacher training, to be specific, it’s loving and heart-opening and absolutely filled with wisdom and ancient teachings. I didn’t understand it at the time, but most of Surya’s teachings are based around the wisdom of the yogic texts. Her training is much less focused on anatomy and alignment and sequencing, although that’s covered as well – but most of it, is wisdom. It’s the heart of yoga. It’s the community and the meaning and the light of this path. It’s what yoga is. And it’s not rushed, because you can’t rush through this. The training is held over 10 months, and really, it needs to be. It needs to envelop your life.
I don’t believe that this can be taught online, not to the extent that you need to travel inward for yoga. I’m a believer in the whole distance learning world, but not when it comes to yoga. With yoga, go to the source. Go to the person in your community who is leading the way, who is guiding the light, who is as true to the path as it gets.
Also, I don’t believe that the experience needed to teach yoga can be taught in a 200-hour training course. I do believe that’s a good basic way to learn. But to teach, you need more, much more. You have to completely immerse yourself in yoga, there’s no other way around it. Amy and I talked about this in Mexico, and she completely agrees – so much so that she practiced yoga religiously for nearly ten years before she went through a teacher training. And then, after her training, she still didn’t feel ready to teach. There’s so much truth in that.
You can’t leave a program such as a 200-hour program and just start teaching. You have to keep learning. You have to keep diving head first, and reading, and going to workshops, and watching training videos. This has to become your life. And then, then you can teach.
I didn’t know that my teacher training would change my life this much. I really didn’t think I would teach. Although whenever I talk to any of my friends about this, they say, Jen, this path was all over you. Or Jen, we can’t believe you stayed in corporate America for so long. This is your truth.
So, do you want to teach?
Then please, please do so. Please do it because it’s in your heart. Because you love to learn, and you love to share, and you find people fascinating.
And try not to get discouraged.
And, have a really great way to make a secondary income. 🙂
So, carrot cake. I’ve read many recipes over the years, because I love reading recipes and have been making many mental notes. The grating of carrots is what has always kept me away from making this cake. It just seemed so damn frustrating. Most recipes call for 3 cups of carrots. And so this is why there’s only 2 in here – it’s not the most fun thing ever to grate carrots. 🙂 A few weeks ago, Kila and I split a vegan carrot cake at a vegan restaurant here in town, and it was downright awful. So much so that I finally got the nerve to try my own recipe out. Here you go.
For the icing, I based mine on Oh She Glow’s Salted Buttercream recipe, doubled it because this is a layer cake, and added 1/2 tsp. more vanilla and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. I didn’t end up putting all of the icing on the cake, but you could depending on how much icing you enjoy.
This cake is super, super delicious. I made Kila take home a few slices, and froze the rest, promising myself that I wouldn’t eat it all in a weekend. And guess what? I defrosted half of it the next day. It’s that delicious.
So, if you have willpower, this cake freezes well. I will be making it again and again.
So, You Want to Be a Yoga Teacher? Have a Seat with this Carrot Cake.
For the Cake
- 1 c. cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours
- 2 c. carrots, peeled and grated
- 3 tbsp. flax seeds, ground
- 2 c. whole wheat baking flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. all spice
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 and 1/3 c. natural cane sugar
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Icing
- 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 c. vegan butter
- 6 tsp. almond milk
- 1 and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
For the Cake
- Soak the cashews in water for at least 1-2 hours, or if you're short on time, boil water and soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425, and spray coconut oil or oil of your choice on 2 cake pans.
- Make the flax "eggs" - in a small bowl, combine ground flax with 9 tbsp. of warm water. Whisk with a fork, and set aside for about ten minutes, whisking every few minutes.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Rinse and drain the cashews and place in a high powered blender. Add 1/2 c. water, and blend on high.
- Stir in the sugars to the cashew cream, and then slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Add the flax "eggs" and the vanilla, and then the carrots. Stir well.
- Pour the batter into two cake pans, and place on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool completely.
For the Icing
- Beat the butter and vanilla with a hand mixer in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and then slowly add the milk. Mix in the salt and cinnamon. Taste, and adjust by adding a bit more milk if needed.
Ice the Cake
- Once the cakes are completely cooled, take a butter knife around the edge of the cake pans, and then turn the cake upside down on a large plate or serving platter.
- Ice the sides and top of the cake, and repeat with the second cake, icing the sides and top.
- Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.