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Did you know that it’s possible to work remotely teaching yoga online? In this series of interview posts, we will be talking about different ways to make money online. Today, the marvelous Whitney Reynolds tells us what it’s like to work remotely as an online yoga and meditation teacher!
We’re probably all familiar with in-person yoga classes, but when so much of the world went virtual earlier this year, it didn’t even cross my mind that yoga and meditation classes could be taken online too! Whitney is one of the first teachers that I saw offering virtual classes and I love how this option makes high-quality wellness instruction available to everyone, no matter where you’re located!
I met Whitney through Instagram and I loved seeing her adventures around the world! We connected over our shared enthusiasm for blogging and over the years, I’ve enjoyed exploring her mindfulness resources. She also gave me advice before I taught my first Outschool class, which we’ll discuss more during the interview!
When she launched her virtual wellness business, I knew I wanted to chat with her about how it all works.
If you’ve ever wondered how to teach yoga online, this one is for you!
Online Yoga and Meditation Instructor
Whitney is a world traveler & yoga and meditation teacher. She runs the wellness website and travel blog, Moon Wandering, to inspire people to wander with wellness!
Tell me about yourself! Where are you from and what do you do?
Hi Nic! Thanks for the interview! I’ve been a big fan of your work for a few years and I’m super happy to be here. (Yay!!)
Originally, I’m from Indiana. Midwest, born and raised. As an adult, I also lived in Florida, where I got my teaching degree. I was teaching in Thailand in 2016, when I heard the word, “digital nomad” for the first time. In 2017, I became one.
Since then I’ve traveled to several countries while teaching English with VIPKID and building my wellness website, Moon Wandering. Teaching English pays the bills, but my real passion is teaching yoga and meditation.
Technically, I’ve been teaching yoga and meditation for years, but I’ve never considered it my full-time job. Just earlier this year, I made the transition to earning 100% of my income teaching yoga and meditation and I finally feel comfortable calling myself a yoga and meditation teacher.
Short answer? I’m from Indiana and I’m a yoga and meditation teacher!
What exactly does an online yoga/meditation instructor do?
I like this question. When I first envisioned this job, I expected to be working with 20-something-traveler types. I thought I would be leading yoga retreats in exotic places and creating a passive income stream through digital courses. While that may still be in the cards someday, right now, my day-to-day life looks a little different.
It looks like: a lot of zoom meetings.
Most of my work comes from Outschool. I’m not teaching twenty-something-traveler types. I’m actually teaching 8-12 year olds. I have a variety of class offerings that involve kids yoga and mindfulness. My most popular class is called “Full Body Yoga Workout” and I teach it 5 times a week.
Here’s exactly what I do:
I open my Outschool classroom and welcome my students (12, if fully booked). I give them a quick introduction to the class and explain the expectations. Then, I mute everyone and play some music. We go through about 15-20 minutes of yoga flow. After that, we do some bodyweight exercises, like pushups, situps, etc. Then, we cool down with a few minutes of light yoga stretches.
I stay on camera and demonstrate everything for them. I ask them to stay on mute unless they have a question and I check in with them every 5-10 minutes to make sure they are following along. It’s super basic and gets in the cardio that most yoga classes are missing for a well-rounded workout. That’s what parents are looking for when they are searching for fitness classes on this platform.
My favorite class to teach is called, “Mindful Mondays” and it’s just a quick 15-minute class that meets every Monday morning. We meet and greet each other and then I explain a mindfulness exercise (i.e. breathing, affirmations, etc.). We practice the technique one time together and then I lead them in a short guided meditation to do it on their own. I encourage them to practice the technique throughout the week and check back in with me! It’s slowly growing, but for the few kids that have been through it, it’s been really impactful.
What made you decide to become an online yoga/meditation instructor?
When I was still in the process of building Moon Wandering, I always had the goal to quit teaching English and make my full-time income from teaching yoga and meditation. My plan was to create passive income through courses and recurring income through yoga and meditation classes/workshops. Eventually, I would scale that to in-person yoga retreats!
Since then, I’ve launched one online program and hosted numerous online classes and workshops, but I haven’t been able to make a stable income from it. When I heard that Outschool allows teachers to teach any subject (including yoga!), I jumped at the opportunity because it’s more aligned with what I really want to be doing.
How did you first get started teaching yoga initially?
I began teaching yoga shortly after my certification program in 2014. I taught in-person classes in a couple of different studios around town. I loved it and I always wanted to make it my full-time income, but I never fully knew how.
It took me 6 years to make that transition.
What kinds of qualifications did you need to get started?
To teach yoga, you need at minimum a 200-hour training that is registered with the Yoga Alliance. Most studios or insurance companies will only hire or insure a yoga teacher if s/he is registered with the Yoga Alliance. If your training is not certified through the Yoga Alliance, it can be considered invalid.
**There is also a second certification that you can get to teach specifically to kids. This is a 95-hour requirement by the Yoga Alliance.
Currently, there is no certifying body to teach meditation. Technically, anyone can do it. I taught and practiced meditation as a component of my yoga teacher training, so I felt qualified enough to lead meditation in my classes.
Given that, if someone reading this wants to become a meditation teacher, there are plenty of programs out there (online and in person) that are willing to give you a certificate to teach meditation. This piece of paper means nothing unless you actually have the skills, knowledge, and ability to lead others in meditation. Leading others is very different from having your own practice. Though it’s not required, I definitely recommend some training and practice.
When the meditation side of Moon Wandering started to grow, I completed a 30-hour certification course specializing in meditation and meditation coaching. Continuing education is so important when you’re a teacher. Just because it isn’t required, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
How long did it take you to get up and running?
It took me six years to quit teaching things that didn’t inspire me. I first became a yoga teacher in 2014 and I told myself (and anyone who would listen) that I wanted to teach yoga full time.
It wasn’t until 2020 that I finally made the transition, thanks to Outschool. It took about one month for my Outschool classes to take off. I taught my first Outschool yoga class at the end of April and I taught my last VIPKID class at the beginning of June. ???? (2020)
What are some of the best platforms for teaching Yoga online?
90% of my work comes from Outschool. This is an online learning platform that allows teachers to teach any subject. It has been fundamental in my transition to teaching yoga and meditation full-time.
Moon Wandering has a variety of smaller income streams. I imagine this is how most online yoga and meditation teachers make it work.
- Insight Timer
This is a free library of meditations for most people, but did you know that Insight Timer actually splits 50% of its income with its teachers? I didn’t either! I started creating guided meditations for Insight Timer and now I get paid monthly for them.
- Affiliate marketing
If you’re in the blogosphere, you’ve probably heard this term before. My favorite affiliate programs are Digital Yoga Academy, Yoga International, YogaDownload, Book Yoga Retreats, Amazon, and Etsy. I link products and services on my website and I get a small commission when people make a purchase.
- Lessons.com or Thumbtack
These are (essentially) job boards where teachers can create a public listing of services. Clients who request those services, get put in touch with your profile. I haven’t had much luck with Thumbtack, but I have gotten private clientele through Lessons.com.
How many hours do online yoga/meditation instructors usually work?
Great question! I’d imagine yoga and meditation teachers can work as little or as much as they want. We are freelancers, after all.
For myself, I typically physically teach yoga online 3-4 hours per day. Then, I spend another 2-3 hours working on other things, like scheduling and creating classes.
Since starting with Outschool, my work with Moon Wandering has dropped off quite a bit, but I used to spend at least 3-4 hours a day working on my website, writing blog posts, researching affiliate programs, taking courses, and connecting with potential clients. Plus, an hour or two a week teaching yoga and recording meditations.
I’m hoping that I will be able to balance my work with Moon Wandering and Outschool in the coming months. I spent a lot of time creating/scheduling classes at the beginning with Outschool, but now that I’ve set my schedule, I see it running on autopilot while I work to scale Moon Wandering.
As a personal rule, I never work more than 10 hours in a day.
How much can an online yoga/meditation instructor earn?
I believe the sky’s the limit with this field. Given the variety of sources- retreats, online programs, live classes, workshops, one on one coaching, etc.- one can realistically make upwards of 8-10k/month. This would require some time and effort to scale, but just within my first couple months, I’m making already seeing ~1k increase a month.
With VIPKID I made about $1200/month. In one month with Outschool, I exceeded that. My second month with Outschool, I doubled it. In my third month, I’m set to make over 3.5k. And, I only see it growing from here.
With Moon Wandering scaling up at the same time, 5-8k months are very realistic.
What does a day in your life look like?
Tuesdays are my favorite. On Tuesdays, I wake up early and bike to a local yoga class in downtown Victoria (where I’m currently living). After my 6:30 flow, I stop at the coffee shop on the way home and grab a Flat White. I bike home in about 5 minutes, shower, and then sit down to finish my coffee with my morning journaling practice.
Around 9 or 10 I make breakfast and I usually eat while checking my emails. I respond to Outschool parents, make transfers, and prep for my afternoon classes. Then, I clean up and take my dog for a walk.
My first class starts at 2pm. It’s a 50-minute Stretch & Create class (Yoga & Art). Then, I follow that up with 3pm Full Body Yoga Workout. At 4pm, I teach Calm Evening Yoga. I like this schedule a lot, because I feel like I get the whole day to myself. I work a few hours in the afternoon, and I have plenty of time for other projects.
In the hours in-between and after classes, I usually work on things like blog posts, guided audio meditations, social media content, and completing online courses. Plus, day-to-day things like laundry, cleaning, groceries, etc. I usually go to bed around 10-11pm, completely exhausted but also very fulfilled.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about teaching yoga online?
My favorite thing about working as an online yoga and meditation teacher is the freedom to set my own schedule. I know many people who work for themselves who say the same thing. I couldn’t imagine working for another person and having a “boss” again after having a job that makes me feel so empowered and free.
My least favorite thing about working as an online yoga and meditation teacher is the self-promotion aspect. With Outschool, this isn’t as much of a problem because it’s a private marketplace and the company promotes the classes. On the Outschool search engine, ranking toward the top can happen quickly and easily using a couple of good keywords and getting a few positive reviews.
Moon Wandering, on the other hand, no one knows about my business and what I offer unless I tell them about it. That means I have to spend (what feels like) an exuberant amount of time on my blog and in my social media outlets trying to get the word out about my programs, classes, and workshops.
Trying to rank for Google can take months of intense SEO marketing and research, and even then it’s hard to see results. Promoting myself and my services is by far the most uncomfortable part of my business.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start an online yoga business?
If you’re comfortable working with kids, I recommend getting hired with Outschool first. That way, you can easily meet your base income needs while working on other projects. As an Outschool teacher, you can have a yoga and meditation business with just your teacher profile and a selection of high-quality class offerings.
To take this a step further, I recommend getting a website. This becomes your “home studio” in the online world. If you are a yoga teacher at a brick and mortar studio, I still recommend having a website.
I personally believe all yoga teachers should have their own websites because even if you are working for a yoga studio, you are still an independent contractor and your “clients” aren’t actually your clients. They are your studio’s clients.
If you have a website, you can direct clients to see your private offerings and online yoga classes, courses, and workshops. You can grow your online yoga studio however you want!
Also, don’t forget to have an email marketing platform! You want to be able to collect emails. Once a client signs up for your email list, they’re yours.
Make an enticing opt-in form to get people on your email list and then market to them when you have new classes, courses, or coaching packages! This is the best way to stay in touch with clients in the online space.
One final word of advice? Niche down.
General “Yoga and Meditation” doesn’t entice anyone. Build a “brand” around your classes and offerings so that you attract your most ideal clientele.
For any readers who might be looking to hire an online yoga or meditation instructor, what services do you offer?
Currently, I have one online course available called the Root Chakra Healing Kit. It’s an online course using yoga and meditation to feel grounded, stable, and strong during times of uncertainty. It comes with a membership to the private facebook group Earth Moon + You, where I go live every week with personalized guided meditations for the group.
I also offer private sessions! You can schedule a yoga or meditation session with me through my website, where I will send a “deep-dive questionnaire” to learn how I can support you. Then, depending on what you choose, I will create a fully personalized yoga or meditation practice for you. This practice can be delivered in a live-format face-to-face call, or pre-recorded and sent to you to practice in your own time.
If you are still in the “I only do free yoga and meditation classes” phase, I totally get that! I was there for a very long time and still dabble with free content too. Here are my options for you:
- Free guided meditations on Insight Timer
- Monthly moon ceremonies at moonwandering.com/studio. Check the studio page for the next date!
Teaching Yoga Online Job Summary
- Requirements: Minimum 200-hour training with the Yoga Alliance, Additional training to work with children and teach meditation
- How To Find Clients: Outschool, Lessons.com, Thumbtack, Insight Timer, Personal Website
- Pay: New teachers make around $2000/month and grow from there
- Hours: Flexible, 3-4 hours a day teaching classes. 2-3 hours a day preparing lessons
Learn more about Outschool!