Finding A Great Yoga Job

Expert Interview Series with Benjaporn Karoonkornsakul

WATCH to learn how to find a great yoga job, find out what studio owners are looking for, and how to position yourself for teaching success.

Lucas:

So hello and welcome. This is Lucas Rockwood with Absolute Yoga, and this is part of our Professional Training Development Series, and I’m very excited today to be joined by Karoon Benjaporn, who is the founder and director of all the Absolute Yoga locations, including the dedicated training facility in Koh Samui. And the topic of today’s conversation is all about what studios are looking for when they hire teachers.

Now, Karoon Ben has hired probably upwards of 60 or 70 teachers at this point, and she has regularly on staff between 30 and 40. So she has a lot of experience hiring, and she’s going to share some of her insight with us today.

So thanks so much for joining us, Ben.

Benjaporn:

Hi, yes.

Lucas:

Good. So we’ll just jump right in with some questions, and my first question is, when you’re hiring teachers what are some of the top things you’re looking for in a teacher? The qualities or the personality traits or the skills.

Benjaporn:

Okay. So I think I can list out many, many things, but I’ll pick the top five things that we’re looking for in hiring a yoga teacher. So number one obviously, the teacher has to be passionate with yoga, because only if you are passionate about something then you can do it really well and for a long time. So that’s number one, which is quite easy, if you are passionate about yoga.

So number two, obviously we’re looking for a teacher that has been properly trained with reputable courses. For example, the course that have the Yoga Alliance certification program, and would prefer if the course has some sort of studio backup, in the sense that maybe the sequence or the series has some studios that has been practicing this.

Lucas:

So well-established, has some history.

Benjaporn:

Yes, correct. So that’s number two, which is very important. And then number three, obviously prefer with some — teachers with some teaching experience, but it doesn’t mean that we’re not talking to any new teachers, because at one point everyone is new. Before they become experienced, they have to be new first. So in order to get a little bit more experience, so we recommend or at least we’re looking for some teachers that maybe have gone through some apprenticeship or some internship. And so in general, we’re actually taking two to three new teachers each year and we train them up and develop their skill, from what they learned from the course. So we also have that, as well as hiring some experienced as well.

In our teaching team of about 30 teachers, we do have a good mix. Some teachers have more than 10 years’ experience, to some teacher that just actually graduated from a course.

And then number four, which is very important and becoming more and more important for a lot of yoga studio owners, and that is we’re looking for teachers who are able to teach a variety of yoga styles. As you might see that now, lots of yoga studios started to offer a variety of yoga style, whether it’s hot yoga, Vinyasa, Mysore, Ashtanga, Flow, whatever.

So a good teacher are teachers that actually have wide skills. Not only one style, but are able to teach a variety of styles. But obviously this comes with time. So a lot of time we hire a teacher, maybe with one training and can teach one specific style of yoga, but generally I talk to them first. If they practice many styles of yoga, what do they think of other styles of yoga? Because what we’re looking for is actually teachers that are very open minded, because you have to work in a team and my studio actually offers a variety of yoga styles. So we need to make sure we can build a good community, a good teamwork among teachers, actually teaching different styles. So in general we want them to, number one, can teach a variety, and if not they’ve got to be open minded and actually respect other style of yoga.

And I think the last one that I think is becoming more and more important in a good yoga teacher that we’re looking for are teaching that have people skills. And what that means, it’s very friendly. So friendly with students, friendly with a lot of members, friendly genuinely, so we can build a good relationship with the students, which is again, very important because as we all now, yoga is a lot of personal so they share a lot of personal stuff with you. So we want teachers that are friendly to members and to students.

Lucas:

Great. Those are excellent. We get a lot of people asking, they’ve just graduated from a course and they want to start teaching and they run into the same issue which you mentioned, is you always want teachers to have some experience. So what if somebody has no experience, they’ve just finished a course, they know the studio owner is not going to want their first class to be in front of students who have paid to be there? What kind of things can they do to get some experience? Do you have any suggestions?

Benjaporn:

Yeah. So a few things they can do. Number one, like I mentioned, they can do apprenticeship. At least if you know a few studios in your hometown then maybe you can go and talk to them. I know studio owners are open for that, because like I said, at one point everyone is new, was new before. So you get a chance to practice teaching, so then you become more experienced and gain more confidence. So try to get an apprenticeship with your local studio or a place they have a course, this kind of apprenticeship course for you.

Or you can do volunteering. So volunteer to teach for a community class or something, just to get confidence. I believe that a lot of times, if you go through all this good certified programs, you do learn a lot already from the programs, it’s just that you need to build confidence and that comes with experience. Generally, I would say that if you have gone through maybe 20, 30 classes your confidence will just go up 1,000 times. It’s a huge learning class. The first class and the 10th are very different.

Lucas:

Sure. Well great. So for your studios, how many new teachers do you hire per year full time and then part time?

Benjaporn:

So in Bangkok itself, we have about 30 teachers. Including Singapore studio then we would have probably almost 40 teachers. So a lot of our teachers are full-teachers, and they’ve been with us quite a while as well. But every year we try to hire new teachers as well, because it’s good to have new faces coming in, new experience, new words, new voice and everything. So generally we hire about 10 to 15 percent teachers, and most of them are full time. But we’re talking part time as well, meaning some teachers are more like a visiting teacher, come for like two to three months as a visiting, they can get to travel and all that. And then sometimes we have four or five of them in a year, to substitute for some teachers who wanted to take a break to either maybe go and take other course or go traveling. So that’s the beauty of being a yoga teacher.

Lucas:

So probably on average, normal studios can have anywhere from 10 to 25 percent turnover in a year?

Benjaporn:

Yes, I would say that for us it’s a little bit low because we have a lot as a full-time teacher. But if you’re talking about yoga studios in general, like around the world, majority of them I would say have a lot of part-time teachers, and that’s where you could have up to sometimes 30 or 40 percent turnover in a year. So there are a lot of teachers going around to different studios and countries as well.

Lucas:

So just like anything the timing is important, but in terms of opportunity there’s always going to be quite a bit of opportunity for yoga teachers, because just if you get the timing right there’s going to be jobs available.

Benjaporn:

Absolutely. In terms of you can talk to a lot of yoga teachers who has been a yoga teacher. Getting a job as a yoga teacher is actually very easy, as long as you qualify with what you do, in terms of opportunities there, in terms of opportunities around the world actually, because as you know, even though you’re located in different places the teaching and all that for each certain style can be quite consistent. So that’s very easy. And for us, we always want a good teacher. We’re always looking for good teachers.

Lucas:

Great. And so my final question is if a teacher is really serious about teaching and they know they want to do it as a career and they know they want to do it to earn a living, what are your thoughts on taking more than one training? There are so many different training courses on offer. Do you value your teachers more who have had more training? Do you feel like it’s an asset and a really valuable skill they bring to the table, or is it not necessary?

Benjaporn:

Knowing how to teach many courses is a huge asset, as a yoga teacher right now at the moment, because as I mentioned before, the majority of yoga studios now are offering more than just one type. So I think for teachers who come to me and say, man, I can teach everything, I mean obviously they’ll specialize with one thing first, that’s the first thing they fall in love with, that’s the first thing maybe they have taught more than the others, but they can also teach a variety of other things. That’s a huge asset for them.

Why is it? Because then they can substitute for other teachers. Some teachers might get sick. Some teachers might take leave and all that. Also, in terms of scheduling it makes it very easy, for both the studio and for teachers as well. So instead of you having to go at 7:00 and teach one class and then wait for the whole day and teach another 7:00 in the evening, you can just go and teach three classes in a row and then you’ll be done for that day.

So I think for teachers themselves, it’s a huge benefit for them. And when they go to any kind of studio they can really pick it out, like which style are you teaching, I can teach this and this and this. But for us, obviously each teacher would have their specialty, but they can also teach other styles.

Lucas:

Sure. Well great. This is all really, really valuable information for new teachers. The last question I have for you is I know you mentioned a lot about attitude and peoples’ people skills. I wonder if you could just leave us with a couple of comments, because obviously the skills are really important and peoples’ experience is really important. But at the end of the day it’s a people person kind of job. It’s one person in front of a group, they need to meet before and after class, so maybe you could just comment a little bit about the importance of people skills and how maybe a lot of yoga teachers don’t put enough thought into that but it is very important.

Benjaporn:

Yeah, I’ll give you a very easy example. One of our top teachers, the best teacher we ever had, not only is he very good at teaching, and actually at one point that is very consistent. I forgot to mention one point now. It’s a final question, but I just wanted to add. A great yoga teacher is a teacher than can teach consistently. His teaching quality, his or her has to be consistent, because members or students are looking for consistency. So that’s another thing that I wanted to add.

But coming back, this yoga teacher can remember everyone’s name in class, can remember everyone’s names, and that makes a lot of difference. Not only do you teach a good class, you also give them a personal touch, which is very important. Imagine you’re going to a class. If only one teacher mentions your name one time you feel recognized. It makes people feel good right away. So that’s something that it’s just a very little example, but overall the attitude and the interpersonal skills is becoming very, very important as a studio owner. When I look at recruiting, I look at the whole personality which I would say that maybe carries 20, 30 percent of the weight. If we say experience and teaching quality carry 50, that will be 20 to 30, easily, because at the end of the day you can be the best teacher but you can’t get along with anybody else, there’s no point.

The people that we obviously want you to get along with is your students so they love the class. As an operator or a studio owner, you want to make sure it’s still a viable business as well, as well as a good community to build. So that actually helps, and a good yoga teacher with a great attitude will build good teamwork. So at the end of the day you have a yoga studio where it’s such a great community for both teachers and also students. So yeah, so that’s very important.

Lucas:

Well great. This has been very, very valuable, and with that I think we’ll wrap up. And so thanks, everybody, for joining us. I hope you got some really great tips here. And again, this is Lucas Rockwood with Absolute Yoga, and this has been part of our Professional Training Series. We’ll have more resources and links for you coming soon. We hope to see you very soon in class. Thanks so much, and goodbye for now.

Benjaporn:

All right, bye.