Before moving to the Bay Area, I’d never heard of “Corporate Yoga.” My understanding of becoming a “successful” full time yoga teacher (i.e. someone who could pay rent & bills on time without freaking out) was having about ten classes a week, regular full workshops and maybe a few private clients. In this gig, that’s pretty good, even if it’s breeding grounds for burnout (but that’s a separate article).
Like all my current corporate yoga gigs, my first one fell into my lap by word-of-mouth. Someone knew Someone Else who needed a regular teacher at a Big Start-Up, and wondered if I’d be interested. But they only paid $65/class, they said. At that point, it was only my first few months here, and the studios I taught at paid anywhere between $4/head (not kidding—never agree to this BTW) or up to $50/class. I also charged $75/hour for a one-on-one session (do not do this either; you’re worth more than that), so that rate felt super-duper to yoga-teacher-teaching-as-many-as-20-classes-a-week-to-come-home-with-1/16th-of-my-rent me. It was a step in the right direction, and an easy “yes.”
It was also a tiny example of how corporate yoga pays better than studio classes. But I didn’t even know the half of it (see #1).
Anyway, thus began a lustrous, fulfilling career of teaching yoga in the workplace. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve gone for this much sooner. So I figured I’d save you the time.
1. More money, less burnout
This is the biggest. Money is a hot-button issue when it comes to yoga, this giving, selfless, universally healing practice. But yoga has morphed from its holy beginnings. While a trend, American yoga is also a full time job for a lot of people (insert one-hand-up emoji). There are 8,138,013* yoga teachers in this country. At least half of those are trying to make a living teaching full time.
Back to my story above: $65/hour is shit for corporate yoga. It became glaringly obvious when another teacher asked me for advice on what to charge and laughed when I told them.
“I was thinking more like $150-$200,”he said.
Um, what? Is it because you’re a guy? It wasn’t, he was just more confident in what his time was worth and knew companies could afford it, no problem. If they don’t accept your rate, negotiate or move on. Money isn’t the most important thing, nor does it buy happiness. But it’s certainly nice to feel like you’re being paid what you’re worth, doing something you love. $50/class is nice, but not sustainable. Plus, you’re not only making more in less time, you’re spending less energy shuffling around studios, therefore delivering way better classes to your students.
2. Creative freedom and greater retention
I love teaching in studios, but so often I end up needing to conform my voice and sequences to fit the owners’ visions and brands. When you teach at companies, you bring more than just a great class. You bring an entire wellness program. Because you’re getting the same people almost every time, you are able to take them on a much more intricate and intimate journey. You get to track your students’ progress, the poses they’re working on, and create a plan to help them achieve them.
Also, because you’re only there at that certain time on that certain day of the week, people drop everything to make sure they get into your class, because they know there’s not another one later.
3. Free snacks
If you can’t pay me in money, you can always pay me in snacks. Most companies have an incredible selection for their employees, and they encourage you to help yourself. Five times a week, I walk out with a few energy bars, seaweed snacks, cold-pressed watermelon drink, coconut water, and La Croix in my bag. And that’s when I’m practicing restraint. Start teaching yoga in offices and you’ll never be hurting for snacks or drinks again.
4. Bringing yoga to people, where it’s needed the most
Yes, it’s needed everywhere of course. But… People may have never done yoga before, but there’s something about “free” that inspires them to try it (see #3). It takes a lot of effort to get to a studio, but if your work is paying for it and it’s 20 paces from your desk? That gets even the most skeptical of people onto a yoga mat.
Besides, I had a bottle of wine delivered to me because I didn’t want to go to the store (thanks, Postmates!). Delivering yoga to people in their office is just like that, but way healthier. You get to interrupt their days of hunched backs, stress and busy-ness with an hour of movement and breath. You help them take their screen-weary eyes and put them on their hands in Warrior 2 instead. They walk out feeling lighter, clearer and more connected to themselves.
And that’s reason enough.