Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga
There were many, many frustrating moments during my job search coupled with the overwhelming stress of keeping the bills paid. And then there were the nut jobs.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JESSICA LESLEY
One month out of teacher training I was the epitome of that old adage “all dressed up with nowhere to go.” There I was, sitting on my couch with my certificate, my outfits, and my play lists — just waiting for someone to put me in the game.
As the weeks went by, my excitement was rapidly morphing into anxiety. I had used up most of my money on additional trainings, liability insurance, marketing materials etc. It was time to reverse the revenue flow.
Historically, when I need a job I would post my resume to a website or two and then wait for my phone to ring.
Finding positions as a yoga instructor is a whole other animal.
Craigslist, wierdos and creeps
There were many, many frustrating moments during my job search coupled with the overwhelming stress of keeping the bills paid, had it not been for my fierce determination not to work another desk job as well as my whole-hearted love for the practice of yoga, I do not think this path would’ve been a long one for me. The process was a huge lesson in trust and persistence and has shown me just how much we determine our own success.
Welcome to a brand new world.
Every day, I scoured the job listings on Craigslist, sending out a rapid fire of resumes. I reached out to friends who were already earning a living teaching yoga and set up lunch dates to pick their brains about how they got work. Most of the studios/ wellness centers I applied to did not respond (which I expected being as I was a newbie) but I was insistent and eventually a few responded.
After my website went up I got a few responses right away…from online weirdos and creeps! Somehow “Yoga Instructor” translates into “Mindful Exotic Entertainment” with sleazy men. You can imagine my disappointment when the first email to come in from my beloved yoga site wasn’t from studio owner offering me a job, a yogi looking for private sessions or even a mass marketing email? No – it was a creep asking could I send him video of me doing yoga – Ewwwww.
Yucky and yuckier
That email was followed by requests for autographed pictures (I can’t make this stuff up) and other random unsavory line items. They seemed to be crawling out the woodwork. My Facebook page filled with friend request from men who seemed to be “friends” with almost every female yoga teacher or yoga enthusiast in North America.
My curiosity got the better of me so I responded to them to ask if they were local and how long they had been practicing. They were at least forthcoming that they had never taken yoga; upon further investigation I would find that they just enjoyed the pictures.
I was frustrated that I had just spent thousands of dollars (that could have been used on some awesome vacation to a foreign land) only to garner interest from yogini groupies than actual practitioners and studio owners.
And then, at last, my first job!
Empty rooms and sub lists
My first teaching job was at a brand new studio with absolutely no foot traffic so I ended up coming to an empty room most days. But it was a start. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere. I could find the gratitude. I think it’s because of that – appreciating the little wins that my next opportunity came. Talk about coming full circle, I was hired to teach yoga at the big time movie studio that had just fired my ass a few months earlier!
Ahhhhh, the turning of the tides.
When I worked at said studio I spent most of my free time at the employee gym, which also offered yoga. Just days after they laid me off, I asked to be put on the sub list. They did better than that — one of their instructors had to give up a class and so they asked me to take over. The excitement of getting work was almost overshadowed by the fear of having to go back to the same place that fired me. It was under different circumstances, of course, but still a bit… weird.
Networking, persistence and putting in the hours
And then, as if by magic, I started to see some returns on my investments.
People started responding to those countless Craigslist jobs I emailed about. Some of those yoga-pal lunch dates turned into interviews as people were spreading the word of my job hunt. A friend teaching at a physical therapy clinic knew the morning teacher would be taking her maternity leave soon and recommended me to fill in.
I just celebrated my one-year anniversary from completing teacher training and feel blessed and grateful that people who want to take one of my classes can find something just about any day of the week. It’s truly an honor to now have a handful of “regulars” and an inbox filling with legitimate questions from yogis, offers to collaborate with like-minded business owners and, yes, still the occasional nut job.
Super sweet and super smart, Jessica is quadruple certified in yoga and in fitness! Trained in anatomy, asana and positive practice, she’s experienced in supporting her students as they get present to their challenges with compassion and courage. When you visit her website jessicalesley.com be sure to read her surprising and powerful personal journey. Watch for Jessica’s adventures in teaching column monthly in The Magazine of Yoga!
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.