Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Yoga Instructor

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Is your character a yoga instructor? We've researched how character personality and talents will impact the story and writing

Occupation: Yoga Instructor

Overview: A Yoga instructor (Yogi) is someone who specializes in helping others create a harmonious union between the body and mind through breathing exercises (pranayama) and postures (asanas). They help clients become more flexible while strengthening their bodies, and to develop a more balanced, peace-seeking mindset through visualization and meditation. While teaching classes (at a studio, health center, spa, in a natural setting, on a retreat, or in a private home), a good instructor will pay close attention to the needs of their clients and design a program that is tailored to them. A class for pregnant women, children, or senior citizens will require specialized stretches for example, just as special evaluation and customized programming will be necessary for individuals recovering from a surgery, injury, or other vulnerability. A yoga instructor must pay careful attention to each client to avoid injuries.

Yoga instructors also will put considerable time into the business end of their practice (accounting, time management, promotion, client outreach, etc.), choosing what specialties to teach (Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Kripalu, to name a few), creating playlists and routines the group will enjoy, building relationships with clients, evaluating progress to best decide when clients are ready to move onto more complex postures, and being available to answer questions and guide clients toward meditative solutions that may help them through personal struggles.

Necessary Training: There are many schools and programs that teach the philosophies and history of yoga and certification in a variety of practices. After becoming certified, many will develop specialties (in specific styles of yoga, spiritual/meditative schools of thought, and working with clients such as pregnant women, seniors, and other vulnerable individuals who will have specific challenges to ensure yoga sessions are safe). These will all require further education, and for devout practitioners, continuing education remains a steady focus throughout their career.

Those wishing to take up this practice must be careful when seeking education as while there are many accredited and respected programs, there are many that are just there to make money off eager students.  

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, basic first aid, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, high pain tolerance, hospitality, making people laugh, promotion, reading people, regeneration, strong breath control, throwing one’s voice

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, affectionate, calm, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, diplomatic, disciplined, empathetic, enthusiastic, extroverted, friendly, generous, gentle, happy, honest, honorable, hospitable, idealistic, industrious, inspirational, kind, loyal, mature, nature-focused, nurturing, optimistic, organized, passionate, patient, perceptive, persuasive, philosophical, quirky, socially aware, spiritual, supportive, talented, uninhibited, wholesome, wise

Sources of Friction: balancing studio sessions and private clients (and finding a work-life balance), needing to travel to multiple locations each day (teaching at a studio, at client’s homes, running classes at gyms and community centers, etc.), illness, a car breakdown, or an injury that puts one out of commission for a period of time, private clients who cancel or ask to reschedule with little notice, clients who assume one yoga instructor is the same as the next, misunderstanding a vulnerable person’s challenges and them being hurt during a yoga session as a result, clients not being upfront with conditions and injuries that make certain maneuvers dangerous, attendees who join for the wrong reasons (hoping to meet a romantic partner, etc.), creating a practice that creates a steady income and livable wage, being a poor business person and neglecting that aspect of the practice (creating financial or even legal troubles), struggling with the “popularity” aspect with so many teachers in the industry and worrying over keeping clients, having less-qualified instructors undercut one’s pricing and market share, working at a studio that doesn’t properly support one’s needs (a regular schedule, proper equipment, cleaning the space, etc., helping to promote classes, offering insurance coverage, etc.), having clients who repeatedly ask for help (to better their health, improve their mindset, etc.) but then fail to follow through on advice

People They Might Interact With: clients, studio owners, gym management, community hall employees, other instructors

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: If the character was unable to find clients with similar ideologies and a true desire for embracing becoming someone more is in tune with themselves and the world around them (and instead doing yoga because it was fashionable, for example), disillusionment may set in. If so it could deplete the character’s own psychological and spiritual energies and make them question if this work was truly their calling.
  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who struggled to maintain a steady practice because of too much competition, being undercut on pricing, or other economic factors, may start questioning their own abilities in this field.
  • Love and Belonging: Yoga instructors may need to put in long, unpredictable hours in that can impact the ability to form and nurture loving relationships, leading to a void in this area.
  • Safety and Security: It can be very hard to make a steady income and living wage, which could lead to financial struggles.

Common Work-Related Settings: backyard, beach, community center, cruise ship, fitness center, gymnasium, living room, park, spa

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:

Yoga instructor characters don’t have to always fit into the “young and beautiful” category. Consider how an older character who teaches will not only reinforce the idea of following a passion–they will also have valuable insight into life and may offer a more balanced outlook, which can add something special to the story. Some occupations are more about personality and mindset that physical features, and this is one of them.

Fad yoga practices (like Goat Yoga) may date your manuscript, but if you want to make your character’s practice unique, consider a instructor that takes clients on retreats to beautiful foreign locations, on adventurous excursions like mountain hikes that end with a yoga session at the summit, a rafting trip that includes pulling over to do yoga and enjoy the natural scenery. or they specialize in something unique such as sunset yoga sessions.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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