Yoga Teacher Compensation - What Is A Typical Pay Rate?

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Photo via flickr @sescsp

Talking about money is often a taboo topic, especially when it comes to teaching yoga. I teach yoga because I know firsthand how powerful it is to get in touch with your body and breath. I don't teach yoga because I expect to make a lot of money at it. That being said, teaching yoga is a primary source of income for many yoga teachers, and as such; getting paid what you're worth is very important.

I was recently asked what I thought was a fair base pay + head count bonus for a yoga teacher and I really had no idea what was normal. I reached out to over twenty yoga teachers from a wide geographic area and asked them what they got paid. The results were very interesting.

There doesn't seem to be a single 'what's normal' pay structure for yoga teachers. This may be a surprise, it might not be. What I did find was that most teachers get paid a 'base pay' for teaching a class. This base pay is what you get paid even if no students show up for class. At some point, the size of the class will then lead to a 'per head' bonus for the teacher. Some studios have smaller class sizes and the bonus starts when the student count passes 10 students. Other studios are larger and have bigger class sizes, so the bonus starts when the class attendance surpasses 30 or 40 students.

If a studio is new and trying to build a clientele, the teacher might get paid more per class to teach, but there probably isn't a bonus based on attendance (because attendance is expected to be small as the business is getting established).

Most yoga teachers I spoke with also had a per class pay cap, or an upper limit on what they would get paid per class. As an example "$25 per class over 10 students bonus of $2 per head, with a $40 cap" would mean that if a class had 30 students, the teacher would have been paid $65 for the class, but their pay is capped at $40, so they get paid $40.

Not surprising was the wide swing in compensation from rural location to metropolitan city. Just as any line of work commands a larger salary in a big city, the same is true for yoga teachers.

The basic calculation is something like this: X number of dollars per class, over Y students bonus of $Z per head. The X values ranged from $10 to $50, the Y values ranged from 10 to 40 and the bonus ranged from $1 to $5 per head.

Comparing East Coast to West Coast went something like this:

East Coast
$15 per class, over 5 students bonus of $2 per head - capped at $50
$25 per class, over 5 students bonus of $2 per head
$25 flat fee

West Coast
$25 per class (for inexperienced teachers)
$45 per class, over 20 students bonus of $2 per head
$55 per class (for experienced teachers)

Bigger studios with higher student counts often pay more than smaller studios, simply because they can afford to do so. Teachers who can hold space for 40+ yogis are also less common, and get paid more as a result.

What it boils down to is your average yoga teacher is getting paid somewhere between $25 to $55 per class taught. Keep in mind that an hour long class often requires the teacher to be at the studio 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after class, so a 60 minute class is really a two hour time commitment from the teacher (not including commute time). This is to say nothing of the time spent planning the class and the time spent in training to be able to lead the class...

I created a SurveyMonkey survey so that anyone who teaches yoga can contribute to the Yoga Teacher Compensation analysis.

None of this information is intended to sway anyone away from or towards teaching yoga. Teaching yoga comes from the heart, from a place of giving, a place where how much money you make doing it, is not the point of the thing. This was an exercise born out of my curiosity for what was typical amongst yoga teachers.