Filling your days with yoga, nourishing food and the odd Instagram of a sun salutation may have some of us dreaming of a career change, but while the life of a yogi may seem so zen, like all careers, it comes with its challenges. From fitting in classes to creating a productive work environment, we sat down with Annie Clarke, yoga teacher and creator of the popular Mind Body Bowl blog, to find out the reality...
Firstly – how did you become a yoga teacher?
Although most people might think it’s relatively straightforward, you have to complete 200 hours of foundation level courses in order to teach yoga, which some schools offer over a year or a few months, and others condense into 25 days. I chose intensive training at a school in Goa, India, and by the end of the year I’ll have completed my 500-hour Advanced level, which is really exciting! I think it’s crucial to stay inspired and keep learning for myself and for my students, so I’m always working towards the next goal.
Before training, I worked for Deliciously Ella. I was her first employee and did a bit of everything, which taught me that doing something varied, flexible and creative within the wellness industry was where I wanted to be, and yoga seemed a natural fit. I love that being a freelance yoga teacher allows for freedom and creativity in classes.
Is it possible to have a normal 9-5 while training?
It depends on how quickly you want to qualify – as I chose the intensive route, I pretty much switched off from everything else while I was there but was already running my blog and talking about my book by the time I did my training.
Can anyone do it?
Technically, yes, but don’t just jump into it. Training to be a yoga teacher is a significant financial investment (it can be thousands of pounds), which I think a lot of people don’t realise. You can spend a bit less or a lot more and that doesn’t necessarily mean the course is better or worse. If it’s your passion and you have the time and money, go for it.
Best part of your job?
No two days are the same, every class I teach is different and everything I do beyond teaching is so varied that I never get trapped in a routine.
And the most challenging aspect?
Being able to switch off – my work came out of something that I love, but it’s crucial to find a distinction between work time and personal time. I definitely need to work on setting clearer boundaries, but it’s hard when you do what you love. I find that fine-tuning my schedule, setting aside just four hours a day to get everything office-based done, works best for my productivity. I get the same amount done in a few hours as I would in a whole day if I know that’s all the time I have.
Do you feel there's a lot of competition in the industry?
Whilst there’s certainly no shortage of teachers or bloggers in London, I don’t see it as competition at all. I want to help people connect to themselves but I can’t do that for everyone all at once, so it’s great to know there are others around doing the same thing, too.
How do you make yourself stand out?
By being authentic and honest – the one thing I’m sure I can be best at is being myself. If you’re struggling with this just remember there’s no point worrying about what anyone else is doing, and people relate to you much better when you’re yourself.
Do you feel pressure to post on social media?
Absolutely – social media has become such a key part of the way in which the fitness world works, but I try to be sensible and remind myself that it is more important to be present than posting.
And what’s next for you?
I’ve just announced lots of new retreats in London as well as further afield in Europe and Thailand. Plus, I have a couple of big project ideas in the pipeline, so stay tuned...
A Day In The Life Of Annie Clarke...
6am: Most mornings I’m up by six with an alarm, but there’s something refreshing about waking up naturally – it sets the day off on the right foot, so whenever I can (and have the time), I try to do so. And as hard as it is, I’m trying to break the habit of looking at my phone first thing, if I find a magic solution, I’ll let you know.
6:30am: I’ll throw on my gym gear (always Lululemon – it lasts forever, performs well and makes me feel great) before heading to the kitchen for breakfast. In the winter, I start my day with a bowl of porridge but as the weather warms up, I love a smoothie bowl made with plant-based protein, frozen berries and almond milk.
7am: I teach early classes three days a week, which is a significant cut-back from when I first started teaching. I used to think you had to teach as many classes as possible to be a good teacher, but I quickly burnt out as it’s just not sustainable. If I’m not teaching first thing, I’ll head to the gym – I try to incorporate boxing, spinning and running into my routine.
1pm: Lunchtime – this is almost always at home with my boyfriend. I’ll have been working from home for a few hours by this time and usually pull together a big, colourful bowl of whatever we have in the fridge. Tip: this a great way to use up leftovers.
6pm: After working on my blog and other projects, dealing with emails and updating social media, I head out to teach early evening classes three days a week, but will often head to a class myself around this time. I really believe that in order to be a good teacher you have to be a student, too.
7pm: I’ll cook something simple like a veggie stir fry or curry for dinner before settling down for the evening. This usually involves a few episodes of Prison Break, which I’m obsessed with at the moment.