Why I Chose Yoga Over Security [Personal Story]

by Juliette Leufke

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Whenever I tell someone that I teach yoga for a living, people mostly only see the great things about it. Socializing with people, doing yoga all day and so on. And even though these are amazing benefits of teaching yoga, there are also hidden facts that not everyone sees at first. And one of those is that at the beginning it might not be too easy to make a living out of it. 

Why Yoga Is Pricey, But Not Particularly Lucrative

juliette practicing yoga

Let’s break it down. Depending on where you live, the prices of an average yoga class can vary. From what I can say out of my own experience, in Europe an average price of attending a yoga class is about 15-20 Euros. In America, it is between 15 -25 US Dollars. In Singapore, it is between 30-50 Singapore Dollars. Here where I live in Indonesia, one class has an average price of 130.000 Rupiah which is about 8 US Dollars.

I have had students before that complained about the high price of yoga classes. But something they forget is that the teacher does not get the entire revenue of a class. Depending on the studio, some owners pay a flat rate per class, they pay a share of the entire revenue or a variable price depending on the attendants. I have worked in studios before that paid a fixed amount, no matter if it is one person or ten showing up to the class. But then there are also studios that pay per person which can be either great if you have a full class or very poor if you only get one or two.

Let’s say you will get an average of 30 US Dollars per class. Depending on how many classes you teach per day, you could have a daily income of about 120-150 US Dollars. But that would be a full day of teaching almost! And don’t forget you also take time to prepare a class beforehand.

Another thing that many people also underestimate is that teaching a full day is not easy. It does not only tire you physically, by guiding through classes with your voice and demonstrating postures. It is also an immense effort for your mind. Putting your entire energy into your classes, thinking about sequences and teaching from your heart – it is super exhausting! And I can only assure you that you can’t do that every single day.

With time, as you evolve in your role as a yoga teacher, you will get more opportunities to make an income besides teaching classes such as doing workshops or holding retreats. At one point, you might even be able to hold yoga teacher trainings. But what I have experienced so far is that teaching yoga is a hard job and depending on where you live, the demand for yoga can even be smaller than the supply that is offered.

The Life I Left Behind

juliette in the middle of an asana legs up

My choice to become a yoga teacher had nothing to do with making money out of it. I studied Business Computer Science and have worked in corporate companies even before I started my studies. I graduated with honors and I got every job I had applied for during my career. I used to earn a salary where I didn’t have any worries about paying rent or for groceries. A salary that was at least three times higher than it is now.

I always had money left at every end of the month to go for a short vacation. And that is what I did, I spent all my savings every month to go traveling. Until at one point I realized that I would rather have a job that I don’t need an escape from than having one where I do. At that point in my life, I have been practicing yoga for a while and I started because it helped me to cope with my mental issues.

I used it as my own therapy and I saw with time how much it has helped me. So, I thought to myself – am I the only one in class that is doing that? Or are there more that use yoga to help them with their emotions?

And that is when I discovered that I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I wanted to be someone that can help people and make a difference. I didn’t want to sit behind a computer anymore and just work day by day without seeing what I actually achieve with my work. And up until today this is still my main priority: to help.

My First Steps as a Yoga Teacher

juliette leufke demonstrating a complicated yoga pose

After I got certified as a yoga teacher, I didn’t trust myself enough to start teaching immediately but as the universe has its own agenda, it led me on a path to be a yoga teacher full-time. I started teaching in different countries throughout my journey and until now my priority still has not changed. I don’t see yoga as a way to make money. I use it to support the people that need it. Including me.

One of my most eye-opening experiences was in my second month of teaching: I held a yoga class and after, a student came to me and was crying. She couldn’t explain what happened to her. She released emotions that she didn’t know existed and she thanked me for helping her to make that happen.

She was so happy and grateful. And that was the moment I realized that yes, there are people out there in yoga classes looking for more than a physical exercise. They need it for so many other reasons. May it be to let go of past experiences, to cope with loss or anything else. It warmed my heart and I will never forget that moment. With time, I had many more of these moments and it is always an amazing reminder that what I do and love to do is not only helping me but also others.

My Life as a Yoga Teacher Now

juliette leufke performing a bridge arch yoga

I admit it is tough to be a yoga teacher sometimes. A couple of months ago, I moved back to my home in Indonesia and had to start from scratch again to find yoga studios to teach at. But I took it with calmness and fully trusted that everything will happen for a reason. I decided to focus more on private classes until I find a studio that has an opening and that I also would like to teach at. And then with time, everything else just fell into the right place.

I still don’t earn as much money as I used to back then when I was working in a corporate company, but that is the last thing I think about. I live a happy life doing something every day that I love and where I can be a part of the special journey of my students. No matter what they are looking for in a practice.

I encourage everyone to follow their heart and see where it takes them. Even if the job you might think you belong to seems scary and completely unfamiliar. The worst thing that can happen is that you won’t feel comfortable and it doesn’t work out for you. But living with the regret of not trying, is something I could not forgive myself.

A change is a challenge and takes courage, but you won’t ever look back to that once you find your true destiny and a life you don’t want to take a vacation from anymore. It will be hard work and it might take a long time until you settle in, but what I have learned from my experience is that we only have the present moment.

You never know what will happen in the future and by postponing a dream, you are taking the risk to never live your dream. And don’t you think you are worth enough to live your life as you really want to? 

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