The Truth About NYC Yoga Teacher Salaries
Written by
Christa Avampato
December 2011
Written by
Christa Avampato
December 2011

Well+Good NYC published a very brave post this weekend that should be required reading for anyone interested in pursuing a yoga teacher training program. I believe it is the first and only article of its kind to publish actual salary ranges for yoga teachers in New York City.

I understand why most studios and teacher training programs have shied away from putting together this type of post - it's not good for their business. To be completely fair, the article does mention several NYC teacher training programs that are very honest with their students and I applaud their honesty. I wish more training programs would follow their lead.

Give the whole article a read when you have time. Here's the cliff notes version - "super-established and highly credentialed yogis earn anywhere from $40K to $400K. While the salary range is huge, most yoga teachers in New York can expect to make $35K or $40K. Even if you become a really popular instructor, with 50 people in your class regularly.”

With some back-of-the-envelope math, this is how the numbers shake out:

1.) Start with $40,000 take-home pay
2.) Subtract 25% for taxes --> $40,000 - $10,000 = $30,000
3.) Assume a low rent of $1500 / month --> $30,000 - (12*$1500) = $12,000
4.) Assume $1000 of monthly expenses which includes:
health insurance (you need to buy your own)
personal care items
and maybe a movie or a cup of tea with a friend once in a while

You're out of money. No savings, no room for travel or to visit family and friends, and let us hope there's no emergency incidental that comes up (but let's be honest, there always is!) So what do yoga teachers do? They don't teach full-time. It's a part-time gig that needs to be supplemented, many times by tending bar which in NYC is just about the least yogic activity I can think of.

Most teacher training programs won't tell you this because they're selling you the bright shiny dream of buckets of karma-filled days, luxurious retreats in tropical places, rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns. They are playing on your emotions rather than helping you to understand the current landscape. You need to be your own reality check. Reality is our friend because like a good yoga and meditation practice it grounds us. It gives us a place to build from.

I am a big believer in dreams and change. Though this is the current landscape of yoga teachers in New York City, I don't think it will be or always has to be this way. After reading about Yoga Sutra's bankruptcy filing, I wonder if change has already indeed begun in the NYC yoga market. It's begging for a new and improved business model. It needs a better way forward than the current crappy business model that dominates the traditional studio scene. I'm so tired of seeing my incredibly talented teacher friends get sold a bill of goods that is as real as the emperor's new clothes.

Change isn't going to make itself. It requires rainmakers and firestarters to shake things up. I can take that role and run with it.

At Compass Yoga, the board members and I believe we have hit upon something really unique and interesting, something that might just get us part of the way toward cracking this nut of how to make a good living from a career dedicated to wellness. At the very least, we're going to give it our very best shot because someone has to.

The Well+Good NYC article just added more fuel to our fire. The yoga scene in NYC is ripe for change in 2012 and we mean to be a part of moving it forward.

Let's be friends

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