Why I (Mostly) Stopped Teaching Yoga for Free… And Where You Can Still Practice with Me!

Where I Started

After I graduated from grad school in 2019, I was a social worker full-time, working in Early Intervention with children and their families. It was a job I absolutely loved, so I poured my heart and soul into it, which quickly led me to burnout. I had no time to relax, I was working out in ways that elevated my stress even more, I was constantly thinking about work, and I was doing a lot of unpaid work after-hours (which is an unspoken – and ironic – part of most jobs in social work/therapy/mental healthcare). My husband was working 80 hours a week at a public accounting firm, so I was also taking care of ALL the chores at home, and my health was really feeling the effects of too much work and not enough rest.

Like many others, COVID-19 forced me to take a step back. My company transitioned all of our therapy to Telehealth and my hours were cut way down. This also meant a pay cut because my job was fee-for-service. Eventually, when my clients all turned 3 years old, they aged out of my services and I was left without a caseload. In short, I was still “employed” by my company, but I wasn’t working or getting paid. 

I’ve been doing yoga since my early teens. It’s always been a passion of mine and a really important part of my life. If you want to know more about my healing journey with yoga, you can read more about it here. I’d always had a fantasy about being able to teach yoga someday, maybe 1 class a week every Saturday morning, just for fun. I figured, during this time when we were all stuck indoors, I had no job, and we had actually saved a teeny bit of money, if I did want to get certified to teach, it was now or never. 

I earned my 200-hour RYT certification in September of 2020. I can’t believe that was already over a year ago! When I got my certification, we were in the midst of COVID, as cases were increasing during the fall and the world was still mostly shut down. Vaccines weren’t widely available in the US and it was difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I still didn’t have any cases with my therapy job, so I had lots of free time and nothing to do. I decided to start offering donation-based yoga classes as a way to get practice teaching. I knew no studios were hiring – any studios that offered in-person classes were closed, and the online market was totally saturated. If I wanted to teach, I had to make it happen on my own!

The reason I decided to offer my classes for donations was twofold. First, I knew that we were in extremely difficult times and I truly believe that every single person should have access to whatever tools they require in order to cope with their circumstances. For some, one of those tools is yoga. Yoga should be available to everyone, so I felt excited to be able to offer yoga classes that could be done from anywhere, at any price point. My secondary reason was that, to be frank, I didn’t believe that I deserved to be paid. Even though I spent thousands (yes, thousands!) of dollars and 200 hours getting certified to teach yoga and had been practicing for well over a decade, I didn’t think anyone would value what I was offering enough to pay for it. I was a brand-new teacher, still working out the kinks of teaching AND working with fickle technology, without the advice or support of anyone who had been there and done that. I figured, if people hated my class, how mad could they really be? It’s not like they paid for it!

Where I Am Now

Over the past year, I’ve practiced. A lot. I’ve gained mentors, made friends in the industry, and worked for companies that invest in the development of their teachers and staff. I’ve challenged myself more than I truly ever thought I could. I’ve lived most of my life outside of my comfort zone. And I’ve learned so much. It’s impossible to even summarize all of it. 

I transitioned from Instagram Live classes to YouTube, invested in higher-quality equipment, and learned how to teach effectively on-camera. In Zoom classes with Homebod, I learned how to connect with my students over a screen, so that we could build relationships even though most of us had never met in person.

I taught my first group classes in-person with CorePower. It’s entirely different from teaching online! I learned how to command a physical space with my music, my cues, and the sound of my voice. I learned how to give instructions in the clearest, most accessible way possible. I learned how to teach without doing every single pose along with my students. Now, I can pause and look around a studio space, notice how my students are doing, and respond accordingly. My teaching has become so much more attuned and intuitive. 

With Y7, I teach power vinyasa in a loud, dark, heated, candlelit room with no mirrors. I spend hours curating playlists that evoke strong emotion – that take my students on a journey. I lead students through an experience, not just through physical postures. Teaching Y7’s WeFlowHard classes is challenging and intense in the absolute best way. There’s nothing like the high I feel at the end of each class as the whole room takes a final breath together to seal our practice.

My point is, I am an entirely different teacher than I was a year ago. 

My values are the same: I want my students to feel loved, empowered, welcome, and safe in their bodies. But my mindset around myself as a teacher has completely changed. My experiences have pushed me in directions I never thought I would go. I feel confident entering spaces I never thought I would. And because of that, the ways I’m investing my time as a teacher have shifted.

Where I’m Going

As of September 2021, about a year after I got certified to teach, I’m officially a full-time yoga teacher. I’ve got a full roster of classes (if you want to see my schedule, click here!), and my schedule is pretty packed. I need to prioritize what matters most: my health, relationships, and, frankly, what will earn me money. Realistically, if this is going to be my job, I need to be paid for it.

Not only do I need to be paid. I deserve to be paid. I’ve accumulated hundreds of hours of experience teaching, refined my style and technique, and invested in training, certifications, and mentorship. Even without all of this though, people doing work deserve to be paid. Full stop. It’s that simple. I’ve realized that it’s actually a problem that people with little experience can be so hesitant to ask for compensation for their work. It’s a limiting belief that is holding us back and keeping us small. I’m making the conscious choice to stop that self-sabotage.

I’m investing the majority of my time and energy into my teaching in-person. As I said, there truly is nothing like it. For me, nothing compares to leading a class in real life, being able to walk among my students as they practice, and feel their presence, energy, and breath. My passion lies with in-person classes, so that’s where my focus is as well. If you’re in the NYC area, I’d love to have you in class!

I am also planning on staying accessible to my students online. I’m teaching a variety of therapeutic yoga classes weekly with Repose Studio. The first week is free, so come take a class here!

Finally, I will be adding my on-demand video library to this website. I’m in the process of getting that all set up, but once it’s ready, you can find that here!

I fall more and more in love with teaching every single day. A year ago, I never would have thought this is where I would be! I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had over the past year and I can’t wait to see where I go next. No matter what, it’s important to me that students from any background and location can access my classes. Even though my YouTube classes are going away, I’ll always make classes available for students for a very reasonable price and let you know every time there’s an opportunity to access classes for free. 

If you’re reading this, and you’ve made it this far, I am so thankful for your support and I can’t wait to keep growing and practicing alongside you as we head into this next chapter together!

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