A Q&A with a one year qualified yoga teacher who has found her groove in operating outside of a major city.
Tell us a little about yourself…
My name is Lauren Barber and I am a yogipreneur! I am multi-passionate and have a love for holding space for people in various forms, including yoga and coaching/mentoring in various capacities. I live in a little village in Kent, around 40 minutes train ride from London. It is close enough to towns and civilisation but also out in the countryside giving me access to lots of amazing rural spaces. In addition to teaching yoga and coaching, I love to write, create (and eat) nourishing colourful food, walk in the Kent countryside and spend time with my four legged friend Pickle.
If you’re a teacher when did you qualify and where do you teach?
I qualified in July 2016 after doing a one month intensive with Lauren Rudick in Costa Rica. For me, I needed this time to immerse myself completely for a month and it was the perfect foundation to begin this journey. I practised for around 3 years before I did my teacher training. I teach in Tonbridge, Kent on a weekly basis but also teach on retreats and workshops around the UK and Europe (so far!). I have also just run my first online yoga group course with over 30 amazing women and this is just the start of my online presence!
I also support yoga teachers (and other ‘space holders’) as a business mentor. I created my own PR and Marketing business over ten years ago and carried through the skills I learned during that time to now support other people grow and establish a strong brand and get comfortable with the marketing and mindset side of their business.
As a teacher based outside of a major city, what challenges have you faced and what practical advice would you now give to others in a similar situation?
The biggest challenges have not actually been in my own teaching, but in maintaining my own practice. One of the reasons I decided to train to become a teacher was because I felt there was a gap in the market in this area and felt I often missed out on events and classes because I was outside of London. In creating this for others, I still haven’t actually fulfilled the need for it myself – however I have now discovered many ‘hidden’ local yoga teachers who I can practice with. This does make it hard to continue the development as a teacher because in order to continue learning and being inspired by my favourite teachers I have to go to London which is a timely and costly exercise.
There are very few studios in my local area, so there was never really the chance to get on board with a team – which means it can be very lonely and a lot of pressure to hire a space and fill it in order to make ends meet. There is also the predicament then of not getting feedback and support in your training when you are teaching on your own. However the bonus of it is that when you do fill the classes then you get to benefit more financially. Swings and roundabouts of course! I never had any fear about doing it this way – but I know that for some people it would be quite daunting to take on the responsibility to hire a space. I would however, urge other teachers – particularly in rural areas – to be brave enough to make this leap because you can earn far more per hour than if you are on a flat rate from a studio.
It has made me think very much out of the box with my teaching and lead me to running my first online group yoga programme in May this year which was a huge success. Bringing yoga to more of my online community was so empowering and rewarding.
Online platforms such as Movement For Modern Life and YogaGlo have been invaluable for me as a non London based teacher – they are the next best thing when you can’t get to classes and I have discovered so many amazing teachers through the platforms.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
This is such a tough one to answer because I have been lucky enough to have the support of so many people throughout the past few years, since evolving my business. While I don’t know specifically who first said it to me, the best piece of advice I think I have ever been given – and something I pass on to my clients – is to surround yourself with people who encourage and support you. People who are positive and empowering with an abundant mindset. It is very easy to get bogged down in the ‘lack’ mentality – especially if you feel that other people are struggling as a teacher or in their business – but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for you.
I remember someone saying to me that it wasn’t possible to make a full time living out of being a yoga teacher and that I would have to have another source of income. This really stopped me from moving forwards and kept me in a struggle mentality for a while. I then decided to challenge that belief and have since proved that in actual fact it is very possible to make a full time living out of being a yoga teacher. Yes you may have to get creative and think outside of the box – but then you do with any business.
I was lucky that the beautiful Polly Mason took me under her wing when I qualified and gave me so much amazing advice – and having her support gave me the confidence to keep going even when it was tempting to bail out! Her guidance and back up, along with so many other amazing yogis and entrepreneurs – mostly who I have met through Instagram – has really helped me to build a positive mindset. I am so grateful for that.
What business focused resources would you recommend and why?
My favourite organisation tool is Google Calendar, it is very simple but works because I can sync it on all my devices (I used to be a strict pen and paper diary kind of girl but had to cave this year!).
A tool I use all the time when I am working on my admin and marketing is my phone timer! I set it for 30 minutes and as soon as that goes I get up no matter what, and do a couple of stretches, shoulder rolls, drink some water, and then continue for another 30 minute stint. It helps stop me going stir crazy or sitting still for far too long.
I am a big fan of podcasts because when I am driving from client to client I can utilise my time efficiently in the car by listening to something inspiring. My current favourite is Yogaland by Andrea Ferretti and Jason Crandell.
In terms of goal setting – I love journaling and the only resource needed for that is a notebook and pen. I use a bullet journal style to track my goals, my habits, my learnings, my inspiration – I never go anywhere without it!
What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started teaching yoga / your business?
I have enjoyed every second of the learning experience, it has been hard and I envisage it will always have hard points and not so hard points – but I wouldn’t change that. If I could tell myself something this time last year – when I had just qualified – it would be that ‘you cannot buy your way to being a good teacher’! I felt when I came back from my training that I needed to book onto another course, and another, and another in order to fast track my teaching ability, and in order for me to be capable and able to teach my students well. Financially this wasn’t viable for me but I still thought… when I can do ‘this course’ I will be a better teacher – and that simply isn’t the case. I could have spent the past year doing courses and it is only through actually teaching and meeting a wide range of people, coming up against physical and mental challenges, and doing the work, that I have developed as a teacher. My students have taught me more than any course could have done.
I was in such a rush to start when I qualified, which I do feel is the best way in some aspects – to throw yourself straight in – but I realise now that I am so early on in this journey and I simply don’t want to rush it. I realise that no amount of qualifications and courses will give me what the years of teaching and practising will give me. So I guess I would tell myself to be patient, trust the process and embrace every challenge as a form of training!
What are you most excited about now?
I am most excited about the next phase of my business! My own teaching style and my mentoring is evolving and I am gaining the confidence to be more specific with who I want to teach and work with. I am very drawn to working with women specifically to help them use yoga and meditation to reconnect to their own body and their own intuition, as well as working with other ‘space holders’ to help them turn their passions and skills as teachers into an amazing authentic business. I have lots of things coming up this summer, retreats, workshops, online courses, video and written content and will also be working on the start of my book! I am hoping to do a meditation teacher training at some point, as well as go on a retreat for myself. It is a pretty exciting time all round and I can’t wait to see what unveils itself if I just let things flow!
Where can we find you?