The profession of yoga continues to evolve in response to public appreciation and demand. Over the past 30 years, yoga has shifted from being a niche practice to a mainstream modality, sought after for a variety of reasons in numerous settings.
As a self-regulated industry, pay and pricing for yoga teachers and their services has in the past been left to individuals to negotiate. However, many people operating in the industry (both teachers and employers) feel unclear and uncertain about how much to charge or pay.
Exacerbating this uncertainty is the wild variance in expertise and experience observed in modern yoga teachers.
Even more recently, we see price inflation affect the viability of teaching yoga as a career:
Many great teachers around the world say that a yoga teacher only emerges from “junior” level after teaching for at least 10 years. Some also say there should be 10 years of daily personal practice before even considering teaching. These days however, one can claim a “teacher” certificate after only a few weeks of training.
If we admit the importance of time spent engaged in the practices of yoga, then this investment and the successful, virtuous life that a teacher demonstrates ought to be reflected in the credibility or consideration received.
Yoga Australia addresses this by judiciously applying standards of education and practice to its members, and thus providing the public and employers with a benchmark and a means of measuring the quality of a teacher. While, a series of milestones is not a substitute for an in-depth real-world assessment, it is nonetheless a tangible and reliable method of checking the foundational aspects of a teacher.
Yoga Australia measures key characteristics of a teacher, such as:
- Total time spent engaged in personal yoga practice
- Time spent as the apprentice of a senior teacher
- Time spent learning in formal courses
- Total hours of teaching experience
- Efforts made to develop themselves each year
- Efforts made to contribute to the profession and to society itself.
Such aspects of an individual’s journey are then coalesced into levels for ease of interpretation by the public. Using these levels, Yoga Australia has also put together the following advice on pay rates. Yoga Australia, as the peak body for yoga in Australia, does so in the effort to support fair pay, professional standards, and economic sustainability.
“Yoga is a life-long process where one attains a state of awareness that helps them to make better decisions in their life. This is a far-reaching assertion and includes decisions around physical health, family matters, personal growth, career, and societal contribution. At the centre of most yogic practices is an attitude of self-study, reverence for that which is larger than our physical bodies, and a responsible journey of contribution into an eventual elderly life of wisdom sharing.”
Standards for Yoga Teachers and Studio Owners
Hiring yoga professionals registered with Yoga Australia reduces risk and enhances reputation.
When working in a studio or gym, a yoga teacher has the right to certain conditions:
- Being paid for the classes they teach in a timely manner
- Being paid in accordance with experience and training
- A clear understanding, via a contract, about their responsibilities in setting up or packing up the room, and signing in students, and being paid accordingly
- Working in an environment that is clean and safe, free from harassment in any form
- Not be expected to perform other duties, unless it forms part of their contract and they are paid accordingly
Similarly, a studio owner can expect a teacher to be registered with the peak body:
- Yoga Australia has established standards, providing quality assurance and a level of competence and professionalism
- Being affiliated with Yoga Australia adds credibility and demonstrates a commitment to industry standards and ethical practices
- Employing registered teachers can give the studio access to a wider network of teachers, workshops, and professional development opportunities
- Yoga Australia offers support, resources, and ongoing professional development opportunities to its members
This is a guide only and you should seek your own independent legal advice and contact the Fair Work Ombudsman in regard to any employment or independent contractor related matters. Generally, if a yoga teacher is employed on a full time, part time, or casual basis then they may be covered by the employment conditions outlined in an award such as the federal Australian Fitness Industry Award 2020.
The most common places for permanent employment include:
- Fitness centres (private or council owned)
- Wellness centres or retreats
- Managing a yoga studio
- Government organisation
- Hospital/Medical setting
However, most yoga teachers will be contractors, rather than employees. Currently, 60% of Australian yoga teachers identify as being in this category*, also known as “self-employed’. This means they are engaged by individuals or businesses to teach classes, and they usually receive payment for each class or service provided.
In this situation you can usually set your own per class rate, but you will also be responsible for your own superannuation, insurance and other business costs. Thus, it is important to negotiate a suitable rate that takes these extra costs into account.
The State of Yoga 2023 survey reveals that a self-employed teachers charge gyms and studios between $50-$100 per class. In the same survey self-employed teachers stated that an average rate charged per student, in a group setting, is between $15-$25. Remember to factor the additional costs of venue hire and other businesses expenses into this income.
It is expected that hourly rates are higher for registered yoga therapists. A yoga therapist is a highly trained and skilled yoga teacher, having completed an additional 700 + hours of specific therapeutic training on top of their YTT. A Yoga Therapist might charge between $100-$150 for a private session, and between $25-$50 per person in a therapeutic group setting.
As the peak body for yoga in Australia, Yoga Australia is committed to establishing clear salary guidelines commensurate with classification levels. We recognise that more experienced teachers deliver more effective classes and thus better outcomes for students. We hold that teachers who demonstrate continuing education and consistent development over many years ought to be remunerated accordingly. For example, Yoga Australia requires Senior teachers to accumulate more than 10 years of teaching experience and 1000 hours of formal training, and their pay rate scales accordingly.
In making these recommendations Yoga Australia supports the positive perception of yoga as a safe profession operating under exacting standards. Our thriving community of members ensures support for teachers, improved conditions, and wage parity across the board.
* Information gathered in the State of Yoga 2023 survey.
Balance in Volunteering
Sevā means selfless service. It is the act of performing kindness and generosity simply to benefit others. It is similar to the concept of karma yoga. Karma yoga is the yoga of action where you undertake your duties with no attachment to being rewarded or praised.
Both of these terms play a vital role in any yoga teacher’s path, on and off the mat.
You may find yourself drawn to teach, without financial reward, to help those in marginalised or disadvantaged communities. This is admirable work and should be well applauded. If you can afford to devote time each week you will be performing selfless service that offers considerable benefit to others.
When you first graduate it is natural to be eager and want to get involved in the yoga community. But if you are being asked to clean toilets and floors, open at 5:30am and close at 9:00pm, in exchange for attending some free classes at the studio, then chances are you are being exploited.
Selfless service is honourable, but not at the expense of good will and fairness. For more, see Fair Work Australia’s guidelines on volunteer work: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/tools-and-resources/fact-sheets/unpaid-work/unpaid-work-unpaid-work
Expanding Teaching Opportunities
With nearly 60% of Australian yoga teachers identifying as “self-employed” it is timely to explore some less considered revenue streams. It is common knowledge that yoga is taught in yoga studios, gyms, online, in a corporate environment, and home studios. However, there are other avenues to explore…