What is your primary career and what do you do, how long have you been doing it?
I am an Executive Director/Branch Manager at Morgan Stanley, a large financial services firm. I oversee the Honolulu Sub Complex, which is comprised of offices in Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, Kona, and Hilo. We have approximately 140 employees in the Hawaii offices. I started with the firm in 1994 as a financial advisor. I love my job and the people I work with – they are my second family.
I have been teaching yoga for five years. Because of my work schedule, I teach yoga mainly only on the weekends, a few times a week. I teach at Hot Yoga 8 and Sun Yoga in Honolulu – both excellent studios. I am licensed to teach Hot Yoga (Bikram style), Sun Yoga, Sculpt, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga. I am 200-RYT-certified and plan on completing my 300-hour certification later this year with Yogi Charu. I most recently completed two separate Ashtanga teacher trainings with Tim Miller and David Swenson. My focus during the past few years has been on developing my Ashtanga practice at Purple Yoga, mainly under the guidance of Yoko Fujiwara. The Ashtanga practice has been very challenging for me, but I enjoy it and I am learning a lot. I have also started to practice Hatha yoga under Yogi Charu at his Yoga For All studio. Both are excellent instructors who I respect.
What are the benefits of teaching yoga in addition to having a full-time career?
I can share my passion for yoga while maintaining the benefits of having a full-time career. Besides the steady income from a full-time job, there are important benefits like medical insurance coverage, vacation days, retirement, and 401k. As an avid yogi, I like to attend workshops and trainings by renowned practitioners. Having a steady income and vacation days allows me to attend these events. If you are going to be teaching full-time at a studio as an employee, make sure to inquire about benefits offered. As an independent contractor, you will have to pay for benefits like health insurance on your own, which can be very costly.
I have great satisfaction when I feel I have made a positive difference to others, both at work and in a yoga class. Yoga is a great balance for my job, as I can unplug from work after leaving the office by focusing on something else. Yoga has had a huge, positive impact on me, both in my personal life and in my professional career.
Although I still maintain a daily practice, teaching yoga does cut into my personal practice, as well as time with family. And because of meetings, dinners, and travel associated with my full-time job, I often have schedule conflicts. I have to find substitute teachers to cover my classes as far in advance as possible.
If you have job-related responsibilities that extend beyond a typical work day (i.e. travel and meetings), make it clear to the studio manager prior to accepting a position, that you will occasionally need coverage beyond the normal vacation requests. Find a studio where there are other teachers eager and available to teach your classes. If you teach a style that is unique to the studio, it may be tough and stressful to find a sub, unless the manager is able to change the class format during your absence. Request for coverage as far in advance as possible. Nothing is tougher than asking for a last-minute sub. If you have the time and are available, even though it may be inconvenient, try to sub for others when you can. The power of reciprocation will help you when you need it. Both Hot Yoga 8 and Sun Yoga have been extremely understanding and cooperative with me in adjusting to my busy work schedule.
Yoga has many physical and mental benefits that have helped me in my job. Within three months of starting yoga ten years ago, I lost 20 pounds, and have since kept that weight off. During the week, I am usually tired from a long day of work and often feel like going straight home. I somehow motivate myself to go to yoga, and the energy I gain from a yoga class from the improved circulation is amazing. I feel a lot healthier and fit, which in turn gives me a lot of energy and focus on my job.
I use yoga as a tool to improve my life off the mat. The real challenge of yoga is what happens the rest of the day after you leave class, which in my opinion, is more important than any asana. The meditative aspect of yoga has helped me to deal with tough situations at work and in working better with others. Yoga is a perfect balance for my job, as it has turned me into a more calm, understanding, and patient person.
Everyone has different goals in their lives, but I would have a very tough time recommending anyone to give up a professional career if they enjoy their jobs. You will have to teach multiple classes to make up for the loss in income. On the other hand, I know instructors who have given up their professional careers to teach yoga, and they are very happy.
If you want to open a yoga studio, make sure you go into it with your eyes wide open. There is a lot of competition out there, and I feel that if I open any kind of business, I would want it to do really well financially and not just barely make it. But if yoga is your passion and this is what you want to do, why not? “To each their own,” and I respect the ambition. Others will respect this too, as you will be making a positive difference in their lives through your love for yoga.