The one word that could transform your yoga business

As a yoga teacher, you’re likely working in some pretty casual environments. The office uniform is leggings and a tank top. When you want to talk to your boss, you send a text. There’s a lot of freedom and flexibility, on the mat and off. There’s not a ton of structure, which as a yoga teacher, probably appeals to you. But what happens when a lack of boundaries equals text messages in the middle of the night? Or accepting classes that overcrowd your schedule and have you running all over town? Or continually bailing on plans with friends and family to help a studio out?

That’s where you run into trouble. And that’s where my favorite two-letter word comes in.


No. No. Nononononononono.

How does it make you feel to see that word in print? How about rolling it around in your mouth, or speaking it aloud several times?

Maybe it feels harsh, prickly, rude, or just plain mean. Not too surprising! As yogis, we naturally tend toward positivity, optimism, and acceptance. And those two little letters might seem to shut all of that down.

Well, that depends on your perspective. As a yoga teacher and a business owner (yes you are!), NO is an incredibly important word to have in your vocabulary.

Here are three reasons to consider saying NO (and saying it often).

  • Saying NO sets clear expectations. Have you ever known someone who says “We’ll see,” when what they really mean is “No, thanks?” The person saying “We’ll see” is undoubtedly doing it to be polite, but unclear language sets up a situation that is confusing at best and disappointing at worst. It’s usually more helpful to say no and let everybody move on.

Here’s an example: Your yoga studio is hosting an open house and needs teachers to assist students in the room. You respond with something vague like “I’m not sure if I can make it.”

Just to be clear, that isn’t the same as saying no. What you’re actually saying is that you haven’t made the decision yet, and that something (checking your calendar, thinking about what else you have to do that day) needs to happen before you can commit either way.

The result? Your studio isn’t sure either, and they might be waiting to hear back from you. It might seem like you’re sparing their feelings by not committing, but you’re probably adding one more item to the manager’s to-do list, because now they have to follow up with you to get a straight answer.

  • Saying NO leaves space to call in other possibilities. Teaching yoga seems to be a competitive market. Everywhere you turn, you’re surrounded yoga-lebrities (wish I could take credit for this word) on Instagram, folks with a bazillion hours of training who seem to teach every style of yoga and healing modality out there, and a crop of fresh, bright TT grads just waiting to nab your class times. Take a deep breath. You are unique and have a ton to offer your students.

But this feeling of competition sometimes makes us desperate, and we think we should be grateful for any opportunity that comes our way. So we say yes to class times that are inconvenient for our schedules, or to extremely low rates, or to taking on other responsibilities that don’t actually excite us.

When you crowd your calendar, you don’t leave any space for something new to come in, both in terms of time and in terms of energy. Accept only good opportunities that align with your vision for your teaching career, and gracefully decline what doesn’t fit. Remember that a good opportunity has to be the right offer and come at the right time.

  • Saying NO to others is a way of saying YES to yourself. Most yoga teachers have a schedule that looks dramatically different from the typical 9-5. You could be teaching at 6am or until 8:30 at night. Your day off might be Tuesday. As a result, it can be difficult to hold space for yourself in your schedule.

This could look like getting asked to pick up a permanent class on your off day, or getting a last minute sub request when you have dinner plans with a friend. In the moment, you might think that the most important thing is to say yes to these opportunities. Usually, that’s driven by fear. Maybe you’re afraid the studio will lose interest in you or stop offering you classes if you don’t say yes every single time.

But let’s go deep for a moment. When you’re a much older yogi, looking back at your life, what will matter more: That you taught a few extra classes here and there, or that you spent quality time caring for yourself and being with the people you love?

I know what I would choose.

When you ground yourself in the reason for choosing NO, saying the word itself becomes much, much easier. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to say it politely as well ;)



P.S. If you’re looking for more content on setting boundaries and saying NO, check out our FB group.