Earning a living as a Yoga Teacher. Mentor Moments #10

Here’s a HOT topic of conversation! If you’re seeking a new career in 2013 will it provide enough to enrich your wellbeing and pay your bills  too?

In this episode of Mentor Moments I catchup with David Spratt, a serious business man and co owner of the Yarraville Yoga Centre and iYoga Props. He speaks candidly on the topic of earning a living as a yoga teacher,  pay rates and superannuation.



If you prefer to read rather than listen to the interview (I dont know why you would) check out the notes below. Please note this is only a summary of the interview please listen  to  David’s candid discussion on this very important topic.

Oh  if you don’t listen to the interview, you will miss out on the treat from Eloise King from Soul Sessions  at the end of the interview. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


Listen Here to the interview:

David Spratt is a part owner of the Yarraville Yoga Centre in Melbourne and Iyoga Props, an online business for yoga equipment. David has contributed articles for the Australian Yoga Life magazine under the heading Yoga as a Business.


B: Welcome David, thank you for contributing on this topic of “Earning a living as a Yoga Teacher” an Iyengar Yoga studio owner for almost 10 years and online business operator for 10 years.  I’m sure you can speak with extensive experience on many aspects of running a business. What is the most difficult aspect of running a business in this, may I say industry? [1:50]


D: Well it is an industry isn’t it? There are two things that occur to me it’s a bit like the massage industry. A lot more people do training than the industry can meaningfully employ. People are entering an industry that is already busy, where there are very few barriers to entry. [3:08]

The other thing is that people who have trained to teach yoga they haven’t, with a few acceptations haven’t been properly trained to run a small business.

There’s a whole world to business that a lot of people don’t have the experience in. There are a lot of things in business that we don’t think about. It’s more than renting a space to teach yoga. I always council people, to always hire a bigger space than you need so you can grow.


B: As you mentioned in your article in the AYL, there is very little business information taught inside of teacher training. [5:00]

And that is why I started YTP, to provide a platform for these types of discussions, to assist yoga teachers and yoga studio operators and professionals in Allied health to tap into information on the business side of it.

In your article you wrote: “Has sufficient attention been devoted to articulating the contradictions that arise between the yoga teacher’s role as a practitioner and teacher on the one hand,

and a business person or self-employed professional on the other?

D: That takes on a number of aspects. How they physically use their time. You need a certain amount of time to teach your classes time to develop and maintain your practice, and you need a certain amount of time to manage the business better and I’ve often seen that become a struggle. [7:20] There are obvious contradictions: The income of the business: the higher wage rates for your yoga teachers the less the business owner makes the lower the owner pays the teacher the more they make. That’s an obvious contradiction. The same with prices if you have lower prices it’s more accessible to more people if you have higher prices you might make more money, not necessarily, but yoga will be less accessible to people. More on this topic at [8:30]


B: Can we also observe the Yamas and Niyamas in the business of yoga– yoga’s codes of right conduct towards others and ourselves – in our working or business life?

D: Yes well that’s like I was saying in the previous question. It’s a question of balance and fairness….[9:01]  I’ve seen all sort of things in yoga that has disturbed me. In our props business we have a competitor that insisted on advertising prices that didn’t include the taxes (GST). Which is illegal under the tax law. But it gives the appearance of their prices being cheaper. There have been cases in the US where certain lineages have tried to copyright asana sequences, which were unsuccessful. [9:55] We see people inventing new forms of yoga….. I see a lack of humbleness in that approach to yoga.

B: Recently Yoga Australia (the peak body for yoga in Australia) released recommendations guidelines for the minimum base payment rates for yoga teachers do you think this is a helpful guide?

Listen here to Leigh’s Blashki Vice President Yoga Australia  interview here and get a copy of the guidelines.

D: It’s a good start. They’ve basically done two things that have given a guideline on what a minimum rate of payment might be and also a guideline on Superannuation. They haven’t made it clear whether its is a casual rate of pay, paid by the hour or employed 20 hours a week 52 weeks of the year. It’s not clear if it’s casual or permanent whether there’s sick leave or not. They have put a figure on the table but with out that context I’m not sure it means that much. [11:30] For example if a person is employed fulltime with a certain rate of pay then by law a casual rate paid by the hour is 25% more. So we need more details for pay rates to make sense. We have to think about yoga teachers have undergone some quite rigorous training and they’re devoting their life to it. [13:00] I think more than teaching more than 10 classes a week is a big ask. What is a reasonable rate of pay for a skilled yoga teacher. Can a yoga teacher long tem be expected to live on $30,000 PA earning $60 a class doing 10 a week. Id say no they can’t. It would be good to have a mature conversation abut these issues.

B: WOW you should hear the amazing conditions that the teachers a Yarraville yoga school are provided….sick pay, allowance for training etc. [14:20]. That seems in the yoga industry to be rare…hi listeners do you have a similar story?

And then there is this new thing Ive heard of, about restricting teachers from teaching in other studios within a certain distance from the business. [18:00]


B: You have also written about superannuation and yoga teachers, do you think its important for yoga teacher’s whether independent or those who work for studios to consider Superannuation contributions?

D: It’s not a matter to be considered it’s the law. The Australian tax office says if your employed and earning more than $450 per month then your employer must pay you superannuation. So it’s not a maybe, its simply a legal obligation. [19:00] Is a yoga teacher a sub-contractor NO not according to the ATO definition?  Any other industry where employees are earning more than $450 / month the employee is paid superannuation.

 Go here for the ATO decision making tool. 

B: Any thing else you would like to leave us with David? [22:00]

D: It would be really useful if yoga teachers had a union or some way of getting together to talk about some of these issues….there are complex issues and human interactions that come into play here.

B: There are a few Facebook yoga teacher forums that provide a great forum for communication and to support each other and strengthen professionalism.

 For  the Guidelines for Payments for Yoga Teachers go HERE Thank you to David Spratt of Yarraville Yoga.

Davids studio: www.yarravilleyoga.com.au and to find a range of yoga props www.iyogaprops.com.au


Here’s a bit more….


Click on the image below for  this great article.


 Work Life Balance – is it a myth?

Earning: - Teach 10 classes wk @ $65. $650 Week or $32,500 P/A.

Pay for teacher training…….$5,000

Pay for yoga classes……3 classes x 52 wks $ 156

Pay for books , CD’s DVDs……$100

Pay for membership to the association…..$90

Pay for insurance……$100

Go to a workshop…$90

Pay for a retreat and massage….$1,500



Sardi Nardine rekons you CAN make it big as a yoga professional. What do YOU say?

Yoga Teachers have a SERIOUS opportunity to get exposure using YOU TUBE.
Film some funky moves - Provide sound instruction – Demonstrate how to safely move into  poses.
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