• Anna Varis

(Un)sustainable career choice?

Can one make sustainable career out of teaching movement? In the long-run, how sustainable choice it is? For the bank account, for the bodymind or for the free-time?

Is it smart? Is it sustainable? To want to live by doing what you love? I do not have full answers for that. I don’t know yet - but will share some thoughts about my experience by far.

Few years ago I graduated from my master studies, in the field of international business and well, fits the topic, sustainability. Rather than looking for a full time job in that field, I packed my things and my friend drove me from Hamburg to Berlin - exactly one day after graduation. I wanted to focus on teaching in this wonderful, exciting city already full of studios and teachers. Clever, right?

Ever since I’ve been doing different jobs part-time, to finance of being a yoga teacher. Yes, you read it right. Finance yourself to work. Sounds crazy when you think of it, right?

For many of us that is often the start. Maybe you rent a room to teach in, or maybe the hourly pay for the classes you give in the studio will not be super high, or maybe you teach in different locations around the city in random hours and lot of your day goes by just going from one place to another, or maybe the class you teach will be empty and you will not get paid? Latest terribly big change to industry has of course been COVID-19. As beautiful as it is to be able to connect online in the moments like this - lot of income from movement teachers vanished to air. Online world was and still is exploding with cheap offers, completely free events and subscriptions options. Bigger events and retreats where one could’ve been booked no longer existed. Uncertainty has been holding many back for making future plans. (I don’t wanna cheer too soon but now it looks brighter!!!!!)

So - for sure in the beginning it is not sustainable for your bank account. I think I can speak for many teachers when I say that we do love to share our love for movement so much that we bend forwards and backwards just to teach. We are so excited, money does not matter! We offer easily classes and events for free - even forgetting ourselves that we did and do invest lot of money and time for our education as well as planning the classes. In the beginning of the month you might pay the room rent and at the end of the month you can be happy if you end up with zero and not minus. If I have other teachers reading this out there, I might see you nodding you head? It takes time to be able to give up on all the other jobs :)

But hey - you might be able to start finding many places to teach in and find loyal students who keep showing up! Cool! And then… through that we get to think how sustainable it is for the bodymind? Two years ago, I was teaching much less than now. Yet I noticed how spending time even a few times a week in spaces where you share a lot of different energies can be oh so good, yet also oh so draining! Word self-care got an entire new meaning in my world. More quietness, baths, self-massages and other rituals are here to stay to keep me going.

Is self-care enough? Well, as every athlete, dancer, performer and every movement teacher - especially if you do the job full-time - we are scared of any pain anywhere in the body. If something happens it quickly takes away weeks or months of being able to teach. The circle travels back to sustainable finance! You got to have some savings to have sick-leave or even a holiday; there will be no support from anywhere else.

This is a topic I could continue elaborating in many direction. But for now, I will end it here and conclude it to the most important discovery. Personally. I can only speak from my experience. The choices I have made have brought something that I would name sustainable happiness. I absolutely love to work at random hours. I love to move as a profession! It gives me so much joy! It has given me opportunities to travel and stay in lovely places!

And you learn as you go. You learn to ask yourself what you must do to keep what you do sustainable for your bodymind. You learn to know how much your work is worth. And you get new ideas and opportunities; at the end of the day: no sustainable career was born in a day, I assume. When you give time, effort, nourishment, respect and trust for your choices - being a movement teacher might turn out to be sustainable career choice. If not in fat bank account maybe in everyday freedom.

I don’t know yet - I will update you in a few years again! x

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