Should Every American Citizen Be a Yoga Teacher?

Many also teach for very little money. Part of that is cultural: Discount or donation-based classes help attract new customers, and they also fit into the spiritual ethos. At Dharma Yoga Center in New York, for example, teachers in training learn that offering donation-based classes can be a blessing on their path to “the total surrender of ego.”

But it is also a result of a glut of teachers: According to a survey from 2016, there are two people in teacher training for every existing yoga teacher. (According to that same survey, 33 percent don’t even teach as a vocation, but rather as “a hobby which makes me feel good.”)

CorePower used to ask its teachers to work for free, not just as teachers-in-training, but also at the front desk in its posh in-studio boutiques, where expensive merchandise ($98 Lululemon leggings, for example) is sold, according to a 2011 lawsuit. It now pays teachers for this labor.

The pinnacle of corporate yoga, CorePower nevertheless dresses itself up as a friendly family, calling its thousands of employees a “tribe.” On paper the job of the instructors is to teach. But whether they get raises and promotions often depends on how well they recruit.

In a video tutorial, the company teaches its staff that in order to sell trainings, they must single out students to talk to after class:

“You’ve been coming to my Monday night class for two years. It just blows me away,” says a soft-voiced instructor in the video, sitting with her legs crossed in half lotus pose. “This will be the next stage in your evolution.”

“Me, really?” the surprised student pantomimes. “I don’t know if I would be a good teacher.”

The teacher disagrees, promising to send more information, but the video makes no mention of the program’s cost. “Keep it open ended,” a caption reads. “Praise validates and encourages your students.”

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