I fell in love with yoga.
I took Yoga Teacher Training.
I wanted to start teaching right away.
But, nobody came to my classes.
And, I was broke.
Is that your yoga teaching story?
This was Shayna Hiller’s yoga teaching story, but she didn’t stop there.
She thought about giving up, but just couldn’t.
So, she figured out how to make money as a yoga teacher.
She believed in herself and her ability to make money doing the thing that she loved the most, in less than two years from when she nearly gave up on teaching yoga altogether.
And now, she’s helping other yoga teachers build their yoga business as well through her YouTube videos, her free ebook, her online course, and her one-on-one business coaching services, Build Your Personal Yoga Business.
I recently came across one of Shayna’s amazing YouTube videos, so I asked her if she would do an interview with me to tell me more about how she built her yoga business and how she’s helping other yoga teachers.
Here’s what she had to say.
You can also watch our full interview here:
Tell me a little about your background. How long have you been a yoga teacher, where do you teach?
I have been teaching yoga for 15 years. I’m originally from New Jersey. I went to college, and then I found that I still just didn’t really find a passion.
And while I was in college, I got exposed to yoga. And I just fell in love with it, so I needed to figure out how could I learn more about this. Because I knew it was affecting me, not just on a physical level, but also energetically, emotionally, spiritually. And I was only 18 years old.
So I decided to do a yoga teacher training because my yoga teacher at the time was encouraging me. She said, “Listen if you have the time, go to Costa Rica.” So I did my training there. And, I’ve been teaching ever since.
I live in LA and I currently only teach at one studio. I teach only four public yoga classes a week. The studio is called The Yoga Collective in Venice Beach, Calif.
And this is new, because for many years, probably for the past decade, I have been teaching all over, at like five studios, sometimes up to 20 classes a week.
So, for me to actually be able to say, with joy, that I only teach four yoga classes a week, yes, it’s pretty awesome I have to say.
You also have an e-book and e-course on how to build your yoga business. How long have you been helping other yoga teachers build their businesses? How did that get started?
I’ve been doing that for about 2-1/2 years. I got started with that because after my yoga teacher training and after teaching for several years I got really steeped into yoga and meditation as a practice for myself and teaching.
And then, just by who knows what magical graceful energies, I was exposed to the idea of entrepreneurialism, and finding your purpose, and finding your voice, and all of this stuff about how I have some mission to serve.
I started investing in various programs for entrepreneurs or people who wanted to take their life and their career to the next level.
I must say that even though I was curious about it, I had a lot of resistance because in the beginning of my yoga career I was not comfortable with charging money for my services. I hadn’t learned anything about business. And I do not come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I just felt strange about it.
Yet there was still something here. I saw other people who were serving on a much bigger level and opening up to that flow of abundance.
So I had a really good friend who was also a yogi. And he’s also an entrepreneur, and he told me, “Listen, if you want to make more money, why don’t you start thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur instead of just running around to teach yoga at studios all the time?”
And I’m like, “Well, how?”
He goes, “Well you have information that people want, you’ve been making a living teaching yoga for the past 10 years, so why don’t you teach people how to do that and just give them something for free.”
So, I wrote the ebook and I started doing some YouTube videos and that’s how my business started in that realm of helping yoga teachers build their business. And, you could call it, their confidence. Because if you have confidence, you can do anything.
Tell me about what it was like when you first started teaching yoga and when you nearly gave up on teaching yoga?
Yeah, well going back to running around and teaching 15 to 20 classes a week, when I first started teaching yoga…
Some people do yoga teacher training and they don’t even have the intention of teaching or they just do it for their own personal growth. And they never teach.
But, I wanted to teach immediately and I started right away.
And nobody came to my classes.
I was teaching at a very small women’s fitness center and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was getting paid maybe $15 a class.
And because I didn’t have any formal business training, or understanding of really what my vision was, I felt like a chicken without a head. And it kind of just escalated. I was still living in New Jersey at the time.
I moved to New York City and I was teaching there, and taking the subway all over the city, teaching back-to-back classes, and not feeling inspired. And not being able to make ends meet.
I was living in a studio apartment with a roommate. Literally, our beds were two feet apart and I loved her and I loved the apartment, but I mean, that’s all I could do, you know?
I was sharing a studio and I was like alright, this is it, this is the life of a yoga teacher. And I subscribed to that. I believed that. It was kind of a dead end street for me and it I was very close to giving up, because I was like, this path cannot move me to abundance and I have to create something else.
And then I just chose to pivot and even if I didn’t know how it was gonna look, I felt like because I was exposing myself to other modalities of career, understanding abundance and purpose.
I’m like, but I’m good at teaching yoga, I like it. So how can I make this more lucrative?
I knew that if I gave up, I knew it intuitively, I couldn’t give up actually. I couldn’t. I wanted to.
I started looking for jobs at retail stores. It was getting to that point, but I knew I needed to figure out a way.
And that’s where I started using my resources, using tools, reading books and started taking action, which was scary.
So then, how were you able to turn your career around and start making money? Is it just luck?
A lot of people, a lot of clients, say, “It’s just luck.”
I say there’s no such thing as luck.
We all have an intuition. We all have some sort of inner intelligence and guidance that we can either listen to, or not.
And listening to it usually will require some sort of an action that we normally don’t take.
It’s kind of like being in a yoga class when an instructor is like, “All right, it’s time for inversions.” And I’m like, I’m gonna go to the bathroom now, right?
Go into it even if you can’t do a handstand. You still are going to go through and experience what that’s like — whoa, this is scary. I’ve never done this before. Or, wow this is exciting.
The way in which we relate to it is unique and personal.
But just because it’s scary does not mean it’s bad.
So for me what really shifted things is, I had always had this dream of moving to California, moving across the country. I was like, how am I ever going to afford that? I used to get caught up in the logistics of things. How am I going to get yoga teaching jobs?
And call it grace, call it timing, I don’t know what it was. But something came in, and I just chose. I figured it out, and I used my savings.
I found a six month lease in a studio apartment that was much less money than what I was paying in New York City. And it was my own.
Was it glamorous? No, but it was right in the heart of Venice Beach, where I wanted to be.
I contacted one yoga studio. I told myself, even though I can’t pay my rent on one yoga studio, I contacted them. It was somehow aligned, and they said, “Yes, when you get here let’s have a meeting, we’d love to have you teach for us.”
And to me that was like a grounding cord. I’m like, I’ve got a place to teach, and I’m going to trust the rest.
And I shipped my car and within 10 days I moved to LA, and I’ve been there ever since, and it’s been five years.
It’s grown, and it’s evolved. And I think through meditation and trusting in the unknown, but taking that leap of faith based on intuition, not based on greed, not based on fear, but really based on, I need to do this for my health.
And that’s what I teach. I think it’s important to guide people into making sure that it is their intuition and being okay with one step at a time, nothing abrupt.
I did it in a very step-by-step manner. But ultimately, I did go into something that I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. But, if I didn’t do it, I would have regretted it.
That’s what turned things around.
And, choosing to see myself as an entrepreneur.
I think a lot of yoga teachers are very attached or at the mercy of a studio.
But, you’re not necessarily an employee, you’re an independent contractor.
And we’re kind of desperate to get classes and desperate to sell. At least I was, so I know how that feels.
It wasn’t until I started seeing myself as, “I’m a business,” “I have a say,” “I can say no to things,” and “I can name my price.” And whoa, that’s kind of crazy. And I started to own that.
I started to gain the confidence around that and it started to align what I wanted financially, and energetically.
Is it really possible for yoga teachers or yoga studio owners to make money and have a thriving business?
One hundred thousand percent yes.
One million percent yes.
To the extent that you believe that’s true, absolutely.
And studio owners as well.
For studio owners, obviously, having yoga teacher trainings as part of your program or workshops is probably crucial, depending on where you live, and how much your overhead is, and thinking outside the box.
For yoga teachers, yeah, that’s what I teach.
I teach people how to be creative, how to think outside of the box.
Yoga teaching is not limited to a studio.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t teach in the studios. It’s a wonderful way to gain exposure, to share your skills, to even find your voice so that you can develop the confidence to perhaps offer corporate programs, or workshops, or retreats, or work one-on-one with clients privately.
I’ll give you this little tidbit, but yoga is not just postures right? As we all know, yoga is life. And if you study yogic philosophy it’s everything from your food, to your self care, to meditation, your breaths.
And so, as a yoga teacher you can offer life coaching. I don’t call it life coaching. You can call it wellness coaching, because yoga, and life, and wellness, and health are all in the same umbrella.
Now, I think it’s important as a leader, as a yoga healer to feel comfortable enough to share your magic in that way, which is why it’s important to do training.
It’s important to do even business training. It’s important to continue building yourself so that you have the confidence.
And that’s why I start by sharing things for free. I have a YouTube channel. I build loyalty. I build trust with my people. And that’s a beautiful exchange.
Let’s talk about marketing. What kind of marketing do you as a yoga instructor? Social media, blog, paid traffic, word of mouth?
As a yoga teacher, these days, I don’t really market myself other than I teach yoga. I don’t even put my schedule up, since I only teach at one studio.
I used to, and for new yoga teachers, I would recommend to choose two social media outlets. Unless of course you happen to be passionate about four, and you can somehow have the energy and time to tend to all the social media outlets.
But I don’t. In fact, I’m even getting away from Facebook a little bit unless it is paid ads, which I only use for retreats and sometimes workshops.
I also create events and I’ll invite people to events whether it’s a retreat or a workshop.
But if you’re a new yoga teacher and you’re teaching at the studios, it’s nice to put your schedule up so people know what you’re doing, but make sure you’re consistent about it.
I have a Facebook business page, which I don’t use as much anymore, but I did.
I feel like there are phases for marketing. And for yoga teachers it’s important to know that, so that you can use it, but not start feeling like you’re forcing it because things are gonna flow and change.
And so I’ve gone mostly to Instagram, and to Instagram stories for marketing things like retreats.
I primarily do my four public classes, monthly workshops at local yoga studios, and retreats abroad.
In the beginning of my career I ran retreats that not only did I not break even, but I had to pay. I lost money. And I wanted to quit. I was like, what the hell, this doesn’t make logical sense.
And gratefully, I had my own business coach at the time that says, “You know what, this is actually the beginning.” Being okay to not make money, but have an experience and learn. And I actually needed that.
I needed to actually run a retreat and figure out all the kinks. And then from there I kept going. And I quadrupled my attendance the following year because I stayed the course.
And then for my yoga business program, YouTube is owned by Google. So, I started a YouTube channel.
I actually did a Google keyword search to figure out what people were looking for.
And people are looking for how to make money teaching yoga, for how to become a yoga teacher, for how to succeed as a yoga teacher.
Because I know for myself I struggled.
So because I went through it, I feel like we can only teach what we have experienced.
And you’ll experience more, we’re all growing in our lives.
But there is probably a hurdle that you’ve overcome. And I was trying to figure out what that was. And I was trying to figure out something super glamorous.
And I figured out how to go from wanting to give up on teaching to making enough money to live in Venice Beach, Calif., on my own you know? And having free time and traveling, and all of this magical stuff.
So, I decided to create an info product for that, but I started with YouTube.
And I have to say that, I’ve grown my mailing list. I’ve been selling product purely from YouTube. It’s magical. So if you are willing to put yourself out there, and you have something to offer people, it works.
I do have my ebook, which upsells to my course. It’s a really powerful tool.
Occasionally I do paid ads, but I’m not big with that right now. I probably could be but not yet, not right now.
What’s been the most effective marketing method for you? Why do you think that is?
YouTube for sure.
YouTube and word of mouth I would say are probably the most powerful because they have a big reach.
Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. And getting out there with physical human beings and going on a coffee date.
And doing workshops or whatever it is, because especially with all the social media and technology, it’s easy to hide behind the screen.
And while that can be effective, your energy is the most effective, your physical presence.
What about blogs? Have you done much in the way of blogs?
Yes. I mean I have a website. I was writing regular blogs on my regular Shayna Hiller website.
I don’t really do it for my yoga business, but my blogs have shifted more to my YouTube channel because I feel like I’m better at speaking on video than I am at writing. I think we all have a modality that works.
A lot of my business coaching clients, when I present the opportunity, hey, why don’t you do a YouTube channel, it’s like a hard no. It’s not gonna happen.
And I felt when I was blogging that I was forcing myself to do it. And it would take me so long. But I felt like I should, so for many years I forced myself.
I’ll blog for other companies sometimes just for cross promotion.
But I think that my blogging these days goes more into my captions for Instagram.
I write poetry. And my blogging comes in the form of poems these days, so again, on that note of flow and evolution, I think that our voice and our message comes through in different ways.
For some people it’s blogs, for some people it’s videos, for some people it’s poetry, for some people it’s dance. For some people it’s a beautiful piece of art. For some people it’s a meal. You know? So I don’t blog as much anymore.
There’s a subtle energy I believe. If you’re forcing something, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put forth effort.
What kind of content do you share with your audience (on social media and/or blog)?
I am a certified health coach, in addition to being a yoga instructor, so I share a lot about self love. And that’s really my mission right now.
So through the body, through nutrition, and I share through poetry, I share through images of food, self care and self love.
Now as a yoga business coach, I share a lot of the problems, and the issues and the blockages that yoga teachers are facing such as finding their voice, confidence, the potential blocks to being able to make more money.
I have about 50 or 60 videos on YouTube that happen to cover topics such as how to weave spirituality into a yoga class. How to adapt your yoga classes to meet the needs of your students. How to hold space literally, the blocks to self confidence, gaining a healthier relationship with money.
People from all over the world are emailing me every single day saying, “Hey I’m having this problem, what happens when a student is doing their own thing in class and I’m trying to hold space but they’re kind of blocking the energy, how do I deal with that?”
“How do I market my own retreat or even start to figure out what my truth is so that it can differentiate me from other yoga teachers?”
How to avoid competition, all of this.
So, I go very detailed with the yoga business.
And as a yoga teacher, really what I share in my content is what inspires me and that inspires others.
I also share my struggles with my eating disorder in the past and how I overcame that.
And how yoga has actually helped me improve the quality of my life, my business, my relationships. You know, it’s all connected.
I try to share from personal experience as opposed to, hey I know this. You know what I mean? Like I know more.
But people want to know why. Who are you? So I share from experience as well.
I love all the value that you’re sharing. You’re not selling all the time, right? You have to give value, you have to help, you have to come from a place of wanting to help before you can sell.
That is so important.
And I remember the first time I heard that.
I’ve taken several business trainings as well, and the first time I heard that, I got pissed.
I was like, what? I don’t want to. I don’t have time.
How am I gonna have the means to create free products? That’s a waste of time.
And I wanted to get right to the product. I wanted to get right to the selling.
And I was proven that, that doesn’t work.
And I invested thousands of dollars into a website, and I was going to create all this stuff. And it was like crickets.
Like, why isn’t anyone coming? Because I had no free content.
And I actually didn’t really care. I was actually, at the time more concerned with myself. And now I’m not.
I’m more concerned with helping people, because all it takes is truly helping someone and having that reflected back.
“You helped me. I was able to gain five private yoga clients based on what you said.”
Or, “I feel more confident, and I was feeling anxious and now I feel hopeful.”
That’s the fuel that keeps me doing this.
And the money, I can truly, honestly swear, say, is secondary.
It’s like a bonus. I find, oh my God, I made a sale. Wow!
But I get more excited when I find an email coming in from a client telling me about a success that they had.
You probably have more money coming in because of that attitude that you have and because of that focus on just wanting to help.
Yeah. Because there’s value, and energy, and prosperity come in so many forms.
And you know, these are things that I heard of course. I had heard them in the past, they inspired me, but still there was this disbelief or something.
They’re like, sounds good, but give me money you know?
But it’s very subtle. And this is why I think it’s connected.
So much to yoga in general and the path of yoga, and non-attachment, and service, and karma yoga, and finding your passion, and alignment.
I believe that we all have a unique mission.
And it doesn’t have to be that I’m the next Gandhi. It doesn’t have to be this big out there.
It can be very subtle and in the background.
And I feel that through meditation and self care, it can help support that trusting in that deep inherent knowing of what we’re meant to do.
How does sharing information, or even, DOES sharing information on your social media pages, or blog, or your YouTube channel, bring in new clients?
Yeah, it always does.
I used to post offers more directly, saying things like, “Hey, by the way I offer health coaching sessions, and I have package rates, and contact me for more information.”
I probably haven’t done that in five years because on your Instagram or Facebook profile, you put what you do. And if you post enough, people are going to be interested enough to click on you and figure out, she’s a yoga teacher, or she’s a health coach.
So I don’t post, “come and be my client,” but I’ll post things on eating, or where I’m teaching, or an upcoming retreat, or just things I’m doing with my life that people will ask questions.
They’ll say, “Hey, what was that food you were eating?” Or, “What was the recipe of that?” And I’ll give them the recipe.
Or I’ll tell them the answer, and I’ll also say, if you want to know more I’m happy to talk more.
And sometimes people will ask very intricate questions that I literally don’t have time to answer. Or they’ll ask a question that’s specifically geared towards them, and I don’t know enough about them, and my response would not be adequate to them.
So I’ll say, “Listen, you know, you should sign up for a coaching session with me because I won’t be able to answer this unless I know more about you.” And rarely would someone say no. They’re like, “Oh really?” Because it’s a personal invitation.
And YouTube especially because what I share on YouTube is valuable information and it’s also segmented so it’s partial and it’s connected to my ecourse or private one-on-one business coaching.
What are your top tips for yoga teachers who might be struggling financially, or who are just getting started and trying to bring new clients in?
Top tips — watch my YouTube channel, because it’s free. And I’ll give you 50 tips on that.
One is, just try to meditate on or envision what you really want to be doing with your career. Instead of getting lost in desperately trying to find yoga classes.
Another is, start to see yourself as an entrepreneur, as a business.
Do things that make you happy.
Do things that inspire you.
In a market, in a business, that has to do with serving others and healing, you yourself have to. More so than someone who’s sitting in a cubicle all day working for someone else.
As someone who’s going to be out there serving others to stay inspired, you have to stay inspired.
Self care is even more imperative for a yoga teacher.
And it’s so easy, I know from experience, to skip that part. And then all of a sudden I’m like, why am I not inspired to teach anymore? And that comes through.
Be willing to ask for help.
Be willing to get a coach.
Be willing to start healing your relationship with money because you deserve to make money for what you’re doing because money is an energy.
These are some tips. There’s many others, but hopefully that’s enough to get the ball rolling and to get you thinking in a different direction.
And none of this will take away from the spiritual component. In fact, it will enhance it.
I thought of myself to be a certain type of person for many years. I used to teach for free because I thought that money was dirty and I shouldn’t be charging because this is yoga.
And it’s like whoa, I’m a different person now because I opened up to that flow.
And it has actually grounded me deeper because money is our root chakra.
And if we’re not going to get down and dirty, and connect with that, it’s hard to sustain in this society.
If you want to go move somewhere and become a monk, sure, don’t ask for money, it’s fine.
But know that there’s so much more abundance. And abundance comes in all senses of the word. For you, for your clients, for your students, when you open up to it.
How can people find you to get more info?
Facebook: Shayna Hiller
YouTube: Build Your Personal Yoga Business
Lessons Learned From Shayna
I had an amazing time interviewing Shayna and learning from her experiences.
Here are a few key points I think are the most helpful for yoga teachers, or other health and wellness professionals as well, who may be struggling.
- Listen To Your Intuition: Shayna had to look inside herself and determine if being a yoga teacher was really what she wanted to do. She knew she loved it, but was that it, or was it something else? Look inside yourself to determine what you really desire. Meditate or envision what you really want to be doing with your career.
- See Yourself As An Entrepreneur: This was a turning point for Shayna, when she she realized that she wasn’t an employee of a yoga studio, but she was a business herself, as a yoga teacher. She could ask for the rates that she wanted. She didn’t have to work at places that she didn’t enjoy. She had choices and a voice.
- Be Willing To Take Risks: Shayna decided to move to California from New York on a chance because that’s what she really wanted and felt moved to do. She took a risk to do something that she loved.
- Think Outside The Box: Figure out what you can uniquely provide to your students or to a yoga studio that you would like to teach at. Provide life coaching, wellness coaching, health coaching, in addition to yoga teaching. Think about what makes you unique and create a new offering that other yoga teachers aren’t.
- Choose Two Social Media Outlets: Don’t spread yourself too thin on social media. Choose a couple that you like to do and stick to those.
- Provide Valuable Content To Your Audience: Whether you’re doing YouTube videos like Shayna, or you’d rather blog, share Instagram stories, or post updates on Facebook, make sure that what you’re sharing is valuable to your audience. Don’t just sell. Offer free information first before you try to sell anything. If you provide value first, the selling will come easily, without much effort.
- Be Willing To Ask For Help: Whether it’s from a business coach, like Shayna, or by outsourcing your marketing or content creation, or just asking a friend or another business owner for advice, be willing to ask for help, if you need it.
Watch The Full Interview
Asking For Help
If you do need more help creating valuable content for your yoga or health/wellness business and reaching more of your dream customers, I would love to talk to you!
I help health and wellness businesses consistently bring in new clients every month using Omnipresence Content Marketing.
If you would like your yoga, health, or wellness business to become Omnipresent to your dream customers, let’s schedule a call today.