A Q&A with a recently qualified teacher who has consciously decided to make yoga teaching a part time focus.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m Shanna Tyler and I am based in New York City. Firstly, I consider myself a woman who is navigating my own life while dedicating my life in support of others navigating their own. I wear many different hats and hold many different titles. I am a master of social work student, a yoga teacher, and an Athleta brand ambassador. Each part of what I do is connected to my love of building community and helping others!
When did you qualify and where do you teach?
I became a yoga teacher in December 2016 with Flor Yoga, an “on-site yoga studio”, so it teaches at companies, hotels, residences, and much more. My experience with them was extremely positive and taught me how to work with a variety of yogis. Currently, I teach at Athleta Flatiron, New York City.
I came to be a yoga teacher from deepening my yoga practice in 2015. At that time, I was dealing with my own experiences of depression, anxiety, and stress. I knew I wanted to become a yoga teacher and did not make the leap until Fall 2016. My personal practice is vinyasa flow; this practice is also what I have learned at Flor Yoga and teach at Athleta. It is a gift to people to teach yoga on a weekly basis.
You recently decided to make yoga teaching a part-time commitment. Tell us about your primary focus career?
My first love is social work, I am currently a Masters of Social Work student at Fordham University. Fusing mind-body health is my ultimate purpose. I care deeply for those who are looking to deal with the anxiety of everyday life. My ultimate goal as a job is to become a total mind-body professional. That said, I am a part-time student and a part-time coordinator at a mental health clinic. Making the decision to also work in yoga part-time has allowed me to focus on all of what I love at once.
A lot of new teachers we speak with want to make yoga their full time career. What was the thought process behind deciding to make it a part time focus?
I made the decision to teach yoga part-time because I wanted to keep it as my passion and not my way of making income. Why? Because I love it so much. Having it be something I look forward to at the end of my long week (I teach on Sundays) is a gift. I get to teach to students who come on their own accord to the Athleta class and it is my way of giving back a practice that has given so much to me.
Specifically as a newer teacher in a city full of yoga teachers, what challenges have you faced and what practical advice would you now give to others in a similar situation?
I have faced many challenges in New York City. Firstly, it is a struggle finding a studio to call home. I have found a place I love teaching at with Athleta Flatiron Studio, but it took about six months to find it! Secondly, it is a challenge finding out how I can stand out amongst the many other yoga teachers in the city. How can I be unique? How can I find my niche? How can I bring my own strengths to students? These are questions that I am looking for the answers to, and I know I will find as I teach more and more.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
“Take all the opportunities and lessons you can take.” My mentor has given me such great business advice, that I found it hard to choose just one. She was my teacher throughout my 200hr yoga teacher training, and since then, I still seek her guidance. She told me this once when I was asking her about how I can grow as a teacher. She advised that I take each new step as a journey. That is how I feel about my ambassadorship with Athleta. I have taken opportunities to teach with them weekly, as well as fun opportunities to represent the brand. It ranges from hosting monthly events to teaching yoga stores. This allows me to branch out and represent myself as a yoga teacher!
What business focused resources would you recommend and why?
Right now, I am seeking to teach in-home private yoga sessions. It is so difficult to find out how to do this and how to even get started. The Sold-out Sessions with Kate Connell Potts podcast has been instrumental in helping me build confidence, identify my niche, and offer private yoga to clients. Kate shares her sound advice, as well as features yoga professionals who give awesome tips on the world of private instruction.
What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started teaching yoga?
I wish I knew how solitary it could be. After my yoga teacher training, I have almost found it isolating as a teacher in this big city. I now have been reaching out to fellow yoga teachers, via Instagram and meet ups and trying to spend time with them so that I do not feel so alone. It is such a solo journey and I find my extroversion can find it difficult.
It feels like there’s some pressure for yoga teachers to make yoga into a full time career, related to perceptions of authenticity and being taken seriously. Having been through this process and deciding to make it a part time focus, what would you say to newer teachers about this now?
I would say go with what serves you. If it serves you to work full-time, then do it. If it doesn’t, then figure out how many classes are possible for you to teach. It is not about the quantity but it is about the quality.
Part of being a yoga instructor is in giving. If you will become burnt-out, stressed, and/or broke from it, evaluate it. Evaluate your priorities, what you can do, and then you will be able to give to your students.
You are still a yoga teacher if you teach one class a month, and you are still a yoga teacher if you teach one class a day.
What are you most excited about now?
I am most excited at the prospect of teaching private clients. Teaching group classes is such an exhilarating experience in itself, however I am looking toward forging relationships with clients on a one-on-one basis. This also will still allow me to work part-time, however I would be able to sprinkle in some private work.
Where can we find you?