21 unconventional places where you can teach yoga

June 28, 2023 0 Comments

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Shortly after I graduated from yoga teacher training, I got a spot on the schedule at a new studio. I had to spend a lot of time and effort preparing my first series, and since it was an afternoon course, I had to navigate Los Angeles rush hour traffic to get to the studio. Still, I was thrilled to finally be able to teach!

On the day of my first class, I entered the studio early and waited for the students to arrive. Later I realized that no one was going to show. This in itself was disappointing, but since the studio’s payment structure was based on the number of visitors, I was not paid anything for my efforts. By the end of my drive home, I realized that these kinds of teaching situations would not work for me.

This experience made me think carefully about how I want to build my career as a yoga teacher. For me, that meant regular, reliable opportunities that allowed me to be of service to others as I found my voice and honed my skills. It was only when I understood this that I could choose possibilities wisely rather than asserting every possibility.

Soon after, I started teaching Ashtanga at several local Ys through a connection from my YTT. Over time, two classes a week became four classes. The setting wasn’t ideal, but I loved that I was able to make a traditional practice accessible to people who probably wouldn’t go to a yoga studio. And the reward was not great, but the teaching was stable. And when I eventually opened my own shala, or dedicated yoga space, many of my regulars from the Y followed and became my first members.

Where you can teach yoga outside of the studio

I advise anyone looking for a teaching position to avoid the newest, trendiest, and sometimes even the most famous yoga studios. Instead, I encourage exploring non-traditional places where you can expand your yoga reach and gain valuable experience at the same time. This applies not only to new teachers, but also to all those who seek to expand the scope of their studies.

There are many ways to gain teaching experience. Imagine if we could spend more of our time getting into the trenches and sharing this transformative practice with more and more people in the real world. It may not be glamorous, but it sure is fulfilling. And it gives us something important—the real-world experience we need to become effective teachers. Below are some of the places you can explore.

Stacks of books in the library
(Photo: Xu Wu | Getty)

Community centers

Because yoga has become so widely accepted, places like your local Y, libraries, community centers, parks, and recreation facilities usually offer classes for their members or the public.

The years I spent teaching at the Y helped me learn how to teach people who were completely new to the practice. It also allowed me to build a dedicated student base.


Teaching kids (and their teachers!) is another way to share yoga with people who can benefit from ways to focus and calm themselves. Again, this may require specialized training, but there is no shortage of yoga teacher training programs for kids.

If you’re a parent, you might want to contact your child’s school—preschool, elementary school, junior high, or even high school—to see if they’d be interested in offering yoga to kids (or adults!). I taught at a local charter high school in my early years and it was a lot of fun. I found that the teenagers in general had a hard time concentrating, but they brought great energy and playful humor to the class.


Shortly after YTT, I started offering weekly Ashtanga classes to my friends at a local park. I offered them as a donation because they were a way for me to gain teaching experience in a low-stakes environment. I also received the education needed to run a business. For example, I learned that it is very important to send weekly reminders and show up regularly, regardless of class size.

If you plan to teach in a park, beach, or other public open space, check to see if a permit is required. If the permit process is expensive or inconvenient, you can take the easier route and teach in your own backyard or that of a friend or family member. There are often people in our lives who have a desire to practice yoga; they just need time and space to show up with someone they trust. That someone could be you!

Women in therapy hold a group discussion
(Photo: ljubaphoto | Getty)

Health centers

Some acupuncture clinics, Ayurveda centers, massage studios, mental health counseling and therapy groups also offer yoga classes to help people meet many of their health needs in one place. Reach out to your favorite practitioner and offer your services as a yoga teacher. This could also be an opportunity to build a private teaching practice if you are interested in working with people one-on-one.

Vulnerable sections of the population

If you feel called to bring yoga to those who would benefit from the practice but cannot travel to attend classes, consider teaching at a treatment center, senior care facility, prison, or hospital.

I taught for several years at a center for women in recovery from eating disorders, and I still keep in touch with one of the students. During one of my classes, another student fainted. Fortunately, other students rushed to call for help, the student who passed out was fine, I adjusted what I was suggesting and we were able to continue with the lesson. That moment showed me that educating vulnerable populations comes with unique challenges. These students may have a history of injuries or physical conditions that may require them to move quite slowly or avoid certain movements altogether. It’s important to get specialized training when needed and always work with staff to make sure you’re meeting students’ needs.

When you start teaching, consistency is important. It is our duty to earn and maintain the student’s trust with the respect he deserves and to show ourselves in full humility and presence. Erica Morton Magill has been practicing yoga in prisons for 17 years, teaching and training other teachers in trauma-informed approaches to yoga.

“In non-traditional settings like prisons, schools and rehabilitation centers, the foundation of yoga is relational: we develop a sense of safety, strength, gentleness, trust, curiosity and community as a team,” Magill says. “These sessions are typically therapeutic, consistently centered around the unique challenges, needs, and limitations of the facility, the day, and the people in attendance.”

Gym with rowing machine and kettlebells and women working out
(Photo by Thomas Barwick | Getty Images)


Gyms are, of course, more fitness-oriented than a typical yoga studio. But many suggest yoga because of how beneficial the practice is for increasing strength and flexibility, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being.

Like a community center, a gym can be noisy with bright lights and mirrored walls—not the best environment for looking inward. But studying in a gym almost guarantees that students will show up for every class you have. And since students will have different body types and different levels of yoga experience, teaching them will give you valuable experience. Additionally, if you are a multidisciplinary teacher with experience in dance, pilates or other movement exercises, you may be able to teach these methods as well.

Corporate offices and residential buildings

These days, many people would like to incorporate yoga into their daily routine, but are too busy. To meet this demand, many companies are offering wellness experiences, including yoga, directly to their employees. The same is done in many urban housing complexes, so residents do not even have to leave the house.

After graduating from YTT, Jessica Kang taught abroad for three years. She went into a high-rise apartment complex and asked if they wanted to offer it to residents. They said yes. She has since founded Yogis On The Move, which offers yoga and other fitness and wellness services in more than 40 residential communities in Southern California.

“It creates some challenges, like sharing facilities, which are out of our control, but the facility teams are very receptive to our requests and concerns,” Kahn says. “Technically, we teach people at home, and the students who join us love that we come to them, which makes it very convenient and more affordable.”

Remember what teaching yoga is all about

Magill reminds us that teaching yoga is a privilege, no matter the environment. As she explains, the practice “tangibly changes everyone in the room.” How inspiring it is to take yoga to places beyond the usual confines of a studio.

About our contributor

Pranidhi Varshni is the founder of Yoga Shala West, a community-supported Ashtanga yoga studio in West Los Angeles. She is also the mother of two children, whom she describes as “courageous and wise little creatures.” A thread that runs through all of her work is a desire to build community and live from the heart.

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