There is no magic to being over age 55, it just happens to be when I started my yoga teaching. Yet it has occurred to me that there are some great advantages to starting at this age, or at least later in life. Sure, I wish I had started practicing yoga more often when I was younger. But practicing and teaching are related but different, and coming to yoga teaching with life and work experience provides many advantages.
My first class was just over 20 years ago. I dabbled in yoga at most on a weekly basis as part of my gym membership where scheduled classes were offered along with other fitness classes. It was not until age 51 when I started practicing very regularly, at least 3-4 times weekly, at a local yoga studio. If I had started practicing when I was younger, I assume there would be many benefits in terms of what my body would able to do and the breadth of advanced postures I would be able to experience and now demonstrate as a teacher. My knowledge base would also be far greater had I started regular yoga practice and teacher training 20 years ago. However, for those who are older and thinking about taking this step and think it might be too late, I want to highlight the top 5 reasons for launching your yoga teaching at 55+:
At 55+, you will have presumably been working for at least 30 years. My career in market research began at age 25 after I completed a masters in statistics and started work at BBDO (a major advertising agency, referred to in the popular “Mad Men” TV series) in New York City as an analyst within their marketing sciences department. I have had a very successful career progressing within this industry and am still working full time in it today. No matter what the specifics of your career, most will have worked many decades by the time they are 55. By this point in life, you will most likely have earned and saved some money and be in a reasonably well-paying job, certainly one that pays more than what you will earn just starting out anew as a yoga instructor.
Taking yoga teacher training courses is not cheap, also the amount you will earn at the initial stages is very low especially when taking into consideration the additional unpaid time associated with class preparation, travel to and from, and the need to arrive before to greet and to stay after for questions. For those of us age 55+, the course fees will likely be far less of a burden and you can best support your yoga teaching by continuing with your current work. It is far better to build a teaching business when you don’t have the pressure of having to earn enough from teaching to pay the rent, the mortgage, the car payment, and all else.
We expect by 55+ that we have obtained a certain level of maturity by this time, certainly on average far more than when we are in our 20’s or even our 30’s as we are still trying to find ourselves, experimenting, and the like. For most of us, those years are ones where we are trying out different types of work, changing jobs, sorting out relationships, starting a family and developing interests as adults. We simply have a lot more life behind us by the time we are 55+, thus making us clearer about our interests, more balanced in our approach, and better prepared to make choices, changes, commitments, etc. This applies to our yoga teacher training, as we likely know ourselves better by this time in life and are clear and confident regarding our decision to do teacher training as well as embark on a teaching career.
The experiences in our work and personal lives can have a great bearing and benefit to our yoga teaching career. In fact, most business careers and work careers in general include presenting to an audience, whether this be pitching ideas or solutions to internal colleagues or to prospects or clients outside your company. Many careers are associated with a regular responsibility of standing up in front of an audience or at least interfacing with customers or other stakeholders on a regular basis such as customer service, teachers, retail, and other occupations. The bottom line is that our work and life experience up to 55 will likely have included many opportunities to be in front of an audience, to present, to interact, and to try to persuade or just share information. These skills and experiences prepare us for the challenges associated with teacher training, as we are expected to begin practice teaching almost immediately when the yoga teacher training programme begins. Of course, there will be unique challenges associated with the newness of the yoga teaching language – cues, Sanskrit, transitions, and the like – but those 55+ will likely have less fear, more confidence, and in general be less distracted by the basic requirement of standing up and speaking and moving in front of others.
Developed Affluent Network
At 55+, most of our friends are also our age or often older. Age differences also seem less significant as we age, so at 55+ we are apt to have a big range in both directions, that is friends who are anywhere from 35 to 75+. With a more mature network, this means that those around us are more settled, have more means, and are likely thinking about their own longevity and quality of life long term. The likelihood is that your friends will have the interest and means to help support your yoga teaching career.
Preparation For Later Life
By the time we are 55+, we are thinking about what we might do in our later stages of life. For most of us, we are unlikely to continue with a high-pressure career and at the very least will want a change from what we have been doing for so long. Most of us will no longer need to work full time, so we are seeking part time work that will provide more flexibility in our schedule. We are also experiencing more challenges with our own body, as we are more prone to injuries later in life and our recovery periods tend to take longer. We are also dealing with our own mortality so are considering those activities which can help us live longer and better. Yoga and yoga teaching fit all of these needs very well.
If you are 55+ and are considering yoga teaching, go for it … as it is far from too late and you likely have many advantages vs. doing it when you were much younger.