The Best Jobs in the World: Yoga Teacher

I am writing a series called The Best Jobs in the World. This series is dedicated to people who have rare or super cool jobs. My aim is to give options, hope, or motivation to people who don’t feel the need to get a regular nine-to-five. 

Today, I got to speak with my old roommate and friend, Anca Monnig. Anca is currently a yoga teacher at CorePower Yoga Short North and CorePower Yoga Easton Gateway. Her website is www.ancamonnigyoga.com.

EC: How long have you been doing yoga? And how long have you been instructing?

Anca Monnig: I’ve been doing yoga since 2009, and I started instructing in 2010. I started practicing and teaching it at Wright State University.

EC: How did you get into yoga in the first place?

Anca Monnig: I was looking for fun electives in college, and I always wanted to try yoga. So I took it as a class for credit. We had to do minimal research on it for that class, so I was instantly interested in the philosophy of yoga, the perplexing idea of meditation).

The physical practice itself was challenging for me at the time because I was out of shape and had a hamstring injury. I noticed the more I practiced the more my hamstrings started to heal, so I kept taking it at the studios and gyms in Dayton and researched it on my own.

I always thought of myself as flexible, but there were so many poses out of my range of ability at first, which actually motivated me to practice more. I eventually signed up for level one training and it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made.

EC: Well, it’s great it worked out like that! What’s your ultimate goal?

Anca Monnig: My ultimate goal teaching yoga is to inspire students to live their lives authentically. Most people come to yoga for the physical practice, but I think the real benefits show up later through clarity of the mind.

I’d like to own my own business and learn as much as I can about the practice itself and explore as many disciplines as possible. It’s a lifestyle of learning, as prescribed in one of the eight limbs of yoga. I’ve managed to work full-time yoga gigs, and I consider myself extremely lucky for this reason.

While I lived in NYC, I taught yoga to middle and high school students, some who had learning disabilities. That experience in itself was really significant for my career as a yoga teacher. It impacted how I understand and teach my students.

EC: Do you have an endless supply of yoga pants?

Anca Monnig: No! I don’t have an endless supply, but I definitely have a lot of them.

EC: Can yoga replace cardio and weight training?

Anca Monnig: Absolutely. I teach Yoga Sculpt which is a mix of HIIT (high intensity internal training) weight training, Pilates, and yoga, ending with restorative postures. Under a teacher’s instruction, yoga can replace both cardio and weight training.

I practice Ashtanga yoga in my private practice, which I think strengthens my muscles better than weight training ever has in the past.

EC: This makes me want to give yoga a real try.

Anca Monnig: You should!

EC: What’s the hardest part of teaching?

Anca Monnig: Different gigs have had their own specific difficulties. The biggest challenge for me right now is to fine tune four different class formats with their own teaching rhythms and clear language. I’m in love with my current job, and I’m beyond grateful that I landed a position where I can express my creativity and study yet another style of instruction.

EC: I can really tell you’re passionate. If you weren’t doing yoga, what profession would you be in?

Anca Monnig: I can’t imagine doing anything else at the moment.

EC: Well, what did you want to be before you discovered yoga?

Anca Monnig: (Laughs) I had a lot of ideas like being a fashion designer or going to law school, but I became hooked on the practice of yoga from the very beginning and haven’t looked back.

EC: Have you seen anything hilarious in class?

Anca: Nothing too extreme; but, if you’re not familiar with this small bit of yoga knowledge…

Opening your hips and deep stretching can release different emotions throughout class. Once in a while I get students who burst out laughing for no reason, or they laugh at something I say that probably seems way funnier than it is if they weren’t feeling so vulnerable.

EC: Isn’t laughing yoga a thing? And isn’t it good to release?

Anca Monnig: Yes and yes! There are all sorts of yoga classes. You just have to find the one you vibe with the most. My favorites to practice are bikram, ashtanga, and yin yoga.

I still like to run because I love the outdoors, and yoga takes away the tightness in my joints and muscles post-run.

EC: How much does the average class cost per participant?

Anca Monnig: It depends where you go. It’s usually between $15-$30 per class at a studio. Private classes are much more; I charge $90 for a single class. There are also monthly passes or class packages you can purchase which lower the price per class.

EC: What pay range can a new instructor expect to make in a year?

Anca Monnig: A new instructor will not make very much money their first year. I’m talking poverty level income here. This is why it’s so hard to make a career out of teaching yoga. Most studios or public gyms pay instructors $20/hr (or class) but this number also varies on location. The more experience you have, the more you can ask for hourly.

EC: What advice do you have for someone who wants to become an instructor?

Anca Monnig: I would tell them to go for it and trust that their passion for the practice will take them where they want to be. Trust your skills and be authentic because your students will show up to your classes again and again.

I had a hard time starting teaching because I was nervous to be in front of class, but now it’s not even something I think about before I start. Also, do your research and invest in a teacher training that supports you and welcomes you in their yoga community.

EC: What separates you from the next teacher?

Anca Monnig: That’s a really good question, Eric! I think my diverse teaching experience sets me apart from my fellow teachers. I’m also willing to take on challenges and step away from the familiar when others won’t. I have to keep reminding myself to cultivate an open mind and simultaneously keep moving towards my goals with ease; that’s the hard part.

Also, I’m excited to announce that I’m part of our teacher training team at my current studio where I will be helping brand new teacher hone their skills.

EC: That’s awesome! Whenever I’m trying to learn something, I always look up to teacher with a wide range of experiences.

Can we expect a book or video by you anytime soon?

Anca Monnig: Yes, I hope so! I’m trying to put more time into my writing, which is a series of funny and/or serious thoughts about yoga and my daily introspective practice. I don’t know if anyone would be interested in reading this stuff, but it brings me a lot of pleasure to write it. Once I let go of my perfectionist tendencies or fear of making my work public I’ll be happy to share it.

EC: We all look forward to reading it. Now for a random question, what’s your favorite movie right now?

Anca Monnig: I haven’t seen any good comedy lately, but that’s my favorite type of movie. I like anything with Will Ferrell in it. I started watching the show Mozart in the Jungle and that’s really good, too!

EC: Thanks for answering all my questions, Anca.

Anca Monnig: Thanks for interviewing me, Eric. It was fun!

Stay tuned for the next interview in my series The Best Jobs in the World.

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