I have been happily working as a holistic/complementary therapist and meditation teacher for the last 10+ years – and the truth is… well, like anything, there are many truths to what it is like! And there are many things I wish someone had told me about working in this growing holistic health field.
As I get many questions regarding this, from clients and from people I meet, I thought it was time to put down some of the tips and honest insights of what to expect – not just from my own journey, but also from working and sharing with others who work in the same field.
Do the research first and find an accredited course…
There are many therapies and types of yoga out there. It can be overwhelming to start at just one place. The key is to use the therapy or practise the yoga that you are interested in first – try it for a regular period of time, see how it has worked for you. And you will soon know whether it is what you want to learn and share in future.
And with all these therapies and yoga branches, there comes a whole heap of courses to choose from! Please take your time with this. Or, like many (and my Self!), you might find that you have invested/completed a course – only to be told that it is not valid for insurance (to work with members of the public) or for the place you want to work in. Very frustrating!
Seek accredited courses and do your research on local legal policies as to what is required. The best place to start is by finding an association of your therapy or yoga and they will usually have links/advise on professional accredited courses that are widely accepted internationally.
It may be your passion – but it is also a business…
When you have done your course, you’ll most likely be fired up to get going. This is your passion after all! And it’s a blessing to be able to make this a daily job… because it doesn’t feel like one when you love it that much 🙂
Be prepared to learn many new things to expand your business. Doing your therapy work or teaching your yoga/meditation classes is not usually enough to get you ahead of today’s competitive industry. There are many skills you will learn as you embark on this journey – and it’s exciting! It made me realise how money is a form of energy flow… it’s a wonderful tool to create more out of what you love and do.
But while we are on the topic of competition, I was once told that you will attract the right clients/students for your unique services… I call this healthy holistic competition. Don’t worry if there are others offering the same things as you nearby, just be you! This was proved to me many times when I swapped clients and covered sessions in the past with another therapist – same therapy, but it was clear each client chose each therapist for a reason. So, work on what energy you put out there… find out what you stand for, how you work best and you will attract the business that suits your services/gifts. Be known for the quality of your work and people will come back again and again!
You will find your Self working harder than your 9-5…
Unless you have a contract or agreement of steady work/income with a 9-5/regular-timetable layout (like with some spas/hotels as part of their staff), most therapists and yoga teachers work many different hours. This often means fitting it around the day job to begin with. The peak times tend to also be evening and weekend hours, when clients/students have time to go to their sessions/classes. So, be prepared to work these out-of-office hours – and to work your day job also in the beginning.
Paperwork is part of the job…
It may not be an office job, but paperwork is part of the process. Important things like filling your accounts, tax, insurance and other paperwork need to be done. Keeping reliable records of your progress will not only help the tax man, but will help you to keep track of your practical habits… And to help you celebrate your progress when you finally see that all your work is brining in more income! 🙂
Self care is vital!
This is SO IMPORTANT. Put it this way: The more energy you give out to the world, the more you need to recharge your own batteries to keep a good energy flow. I can’t tell you the number of times I meet friends in this field, meet clients or have experienced times when this area is lacking and we feel the pinch. Often, those who care for others (in their personal and professional life) are guilty of forgetting to take care of their Self too.
Be your own client/student – If in doubt, remind your Self of what you would advise a person in a similar position.
Know how many clients or classes is your limit each day/week – Some teachers and therapists can easily work for hours non-stop and not feel drained. Others, will feel it after just one class or client. It’s not a sign of weakness… we all just work differently. So know your limits as part of your own Self care. Protect your own energies, this takes time and practise but it will help you stay grounded too.
Spot the early signs of burn-out – I don’t know where to start with this topic! It is a huge one. In simple terms, keep your awareness in how your energy levels are all the time. Early signs of burn-out could be that you feel drained more and more after each session, you feel unmotivated to do your work, you take on more responsibility for your client/student than they do, your emotional boundaries are being crossed etc (I will do a blog post on this topic soon). One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to take care of your Self.
Create your own Self care rituals before/after seeing your clients/students – An easy positive habit to put into place is doing what you feel keeps your flow of energy strong and clear… for example: Doing a grounding or white-light protection meditation before each session, keeping crystals around to neutralise energy, to make sure the energy of your space is cleansed (you could simply spray a mix of water/essential oil to set the tone)… whatever works for you! And then to release your client’s/student’s energy afterwards. Rituals helps create heathy spaces to work from and positive energy to be shared 🙂
Develop positive working habits from the start…
Following on from the last 2 points, if you get some healthy habits flowing in place from the start, it becomes easy and second nature to keep it up as you expand your work. I see it as part of the larger investment… each positive habit is there to support you, your work and your clients.
At times, it can be stressful!
This may surprise many people… we get an image of yoga teachers and holistic therapists floating in the room with a relaxed vibe but… Yes, we can be just as stressed as in other occupations!
There are many times when you might not be feeling 100%, yet your aim is to make sure your clients/students walk out of your sessions feeling amazing. That’s not easy. Especially if there is a lot of stuff going on in your own personal life, as real life is like that sometimes.
Sometimes, a session or day doesn’t go to plan… it can throw you off balance temporarily but that’s OK too. Just breathe deeply and let it pass. If you are having a dodgy day, you could try to practise visualising your personal energy being left a the door. Work on meditations or rituals to do before your session. Use positive affirmations to remind your Self to keep your energy separated from your work. And again, make sure you take care of your Self too 🙂
You have to set healthy boundaries from day 1…
Keeping healthy boundaries between your work and personal life can make things much easier. It’s also professional to keep it that way as much as possible.
it’s also important not to be attached to clients/students. A common example: You may have a faithful student in your class for years and then suddenly, without warning, they no longer come. It’s nothing personal, there may be many reasons why they no longer are present – but you’ll realise that it’s nothing personal. It’s natural to be fond of your clients and students (building a strong positive professional relationship), but know that there is a a healthy boundary to be kept.
Boundaries also means to value your service. It may be tempting to mark your price lower than others in your area or even do things for free – but I think people may relate that to it’s value too. If we relate to the concept of money being an energy flow… there needs to be flow in exchanges for your services too. It doesn’t have to be money as such, it could be a swap of services, volunteering for a good cause or donations… just making sure that your energy is two-way and valued (by your Self and others). Don’t sell your Self short! 🙂
Marketing and researching is a daily positive habit…
Speaking of positive habits, it’s good to do a little marketing and research every day. We live in a time of information and sharing – so keeping up and sharing your work with others will keep that flow going.
Get creative with it! It doesn’t have to be boring… watch how others do theirs. Usually, the things you love to do naturally can be your best marketing tool. For example: If you like writing, write articles for magazines or blogs and include a link to your website/details. If you like music and festivals, apply to local festival places for a stall or to host a class/session.
Like any business, it takes time to build a healthy client base…
I was told at the very beginning that it will on average take 2 years of solid hard work to get a flow of steady regular clients. This proved to be true for me. Everyone is different – and it depends on many factors (how many hours you work, location etc).
With time, you will also develop your own skills and confidence in how you work… this will shine through!
Hang in there, work hard and soon a stream of regular clients will come – maybe think about packages or tell-a-friend promotions to get things moving, it did for me 🙂
The possibilities of work and how you work are endless!
This is a growing and expanding field – and I don’t think it will stop any time soon! With this, comes the endless possibilities of how you choose to work. You need to be clear with your Self about what you want…
Some reflection questions:
Do you prefer to work near home? Or in town/city?
How many hours do you want to work?
Do you want to travel for work?
Do you want to be completely independent or be part of a holistic community (yoga centre, holistic clinic, etc)?
Is there a certain type of client you would like to market your services to? (creatives, corporate, students etc)
Do you want to teach practitioner courses in future?
Do you want to run your own therapy or yoga space one day?
Get a clear picture in your mind of what you would like to aim for – positive visualisation, vision boards, being inspired by other people’s work and networking can get you to feel inspired to focus on your goals! You could have a folder or book to keep these ideas together so you have a place to collect and reflect.
All in all, it can be a curvy ride to get to what/where you want… but I personally would never change anything! I encourage anyone who is interested in taking this journey to explore and see where it takes you 🙂