About Heather Hottovy
Heather Hottovy, who also goes by Feather, started yoga when she was only 10 years old at the YMCA. She’s been practicing for a long time and finally decided, she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others through yoga. She relocated to Colorado in 2013, and took her first yoga teacher training at Full Circle Yoga in Longmont, CO. Heather is able to impact many lives by teaching at festivals and conferences. She’s taught many studio classes, private sessions, and at festivals like Arise, Sonic Bloom and Rocky Grass. Today she has a wide range of knowledge and experience and a passion to share it with the world. We’re excited to have Heather on today so she can share some of her knowledge of how we can teach at yoga festivals and conferences.
You can learn more about Heather at http://www.heatherhottovy.com.
Let’s get into the interview!
Allison: Thank you so much for joining us today. I think conferences and festivals are a great way to reach a lot of people all at once. Would you like to tell us a little bit about your yoga journey or how you really got into teaching at festivals and conferences?
Heather: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to hopefully help some other people spread this awesome teaching of yoga in a bigger, more impactful way.
I’ve always been a little bit of a hippie at my heart. I’ve been going to festivals since 16 or 17 years old, and just really enjoyed them. I noticed that there was a big community in every single festival that I went to. And there’s usually yoga, workshops, music and everything. And as soon as I started to dive into the world of Yoga a little bit more and get my certification, I realized it opened up something that I’d been wanting to do without even knowing that I wanted to do it for a long time.
So I put my feelers out and started to contact people. I realized that one of the people that I knew through being a nanny, which I do on the side, was the manager and producer of Arise music festival’s, personal assistant. So I definitely had an in.
I went to Arise and taught children’s yoga at my first festival and that was a lot of fun. I taught children’s Yoga at a few more of those festivals before graduating to “grown up” yoga at different festivals.
If you’re interested in doing something like this and becoming a familiar name with the community that you’re trying to teach to then get your foot in the door any way that you can.
I was very lucky and I’m very, very grateful that it all fell into place the way it did. And it’s just been a self propelled thing since then. People now come to me and ask, “Hey, can you do this?” And that feels really amazing.
Allison: Yes. I find our personal network is so valuable. I often think that to find more clients I need to reach out on social media and Instagram and be in all these places online and turns out, I know a lot of people around me, why am I always trying to go and search out new people when there are people around me who are teaching at conferences and festivals? Why not network with them?
Heather: Yes, communication is key and I believe in the fake it until you make it saying. Just keep putting yourself out there and already be grateful when you put in those applications. Say to yourself, “I’m so grateful that I’m able to apply to this right now. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to perhaps share my gifts, my lessons that I’ve learned with this audience.”
Shauna: What specific skills have you learned from your experience working at these festivals? Is there any specific way that you organize your sequences for the large audience? What are some tips that you can share with those of us that have never had that kind of a teaching experience?
Heather: I think it’s really, really important to have a base flow. At a yoga festival, they could be anyone from the age of 1 to 101 and within a various range of fitness levels and experience levels. It’s hard to accommodate everyone. So I think that the most important things to come prepared with are that base flow and a willingness to change. Be able to see when something’s not working. When half of your class is going the wrong way you see that, make sure that everyone’s balanced on both sides, stop that flow and do something else that’s more attainable for everyone.
Yoga should be all inclusive. It shouldn’t be exclusive. And if you’re putting together a flow, if you have one in your mind and you’re thinking, ‘okay, today we’re going to do warrior three at the festival.’ And then you see someone doing something dangerous, you have to change your game plan and say, “okay, we’re going to hold this for one breath, not the 10 that I was planning on.”
You just have to be really flexible and teach to who is there.
I actually had an experience teaching 75 plus people. We weren’t expecting that many people to show up for the morning yoga so I didn’t have a microphone. Yelling the cues while trying to maintain this container of calm while sound check is happening was really, really difficult. I saw all of these things happening and I was like, ‘okay, and now we’re in our downdog shake your hips to the jam that’s coming on because it’s sound check now.” 🙂
So I think having a playful spirit when you’re in these situations is necessary too. You’re not in a yoga studio. You don’t have four walls surrounding you. You don’t have a roof. I mean I’ve even had a student running around being chased by a bee and that was a really a humorous little thing to experience halfway in a yoga class. But we all learned from it. As soon as that person calmed down the bee left. I’m pretty sure I even said something like, “See, calm is the key. “
Shauna: Can teachers expect to be paid for something like this, are you working for free or are you working for a trade for tickets to the show? How has that worked in your experience?
Heather: That is a great question. And something I really wanted to talk about today because I have been in a situation where it was strictly volunteer and I paid for my own travel, food expenses, everything to go out there. It was more of a passion project. It was something that I felt very, very deep about doing. And I’m actually going to be going back to the same festival to volunteer even more this year. So that is one side of the coin.
Another side of the same coin, you can get paid along with festival tickets along with free food, drinks, along with VIP sometimes depending where you are. I’ve been on one end of it and the other end.
And then there’s also times where it is just strict ticket trade.
And honestly figuring out whether or not this specific event that you’re being offered is worth what they’re going to offer you to come and perform there. It really has to resonate with you. It’s a give and receive and if it doesn’t feel like it’s balancing out for you and you have this gut feeling usually the answer should be no.
I have one time said yes when I wasn’t really jiving with the event. And it was the most difficult one that I’ve taught at because I wasn’t happy with what I was getting paid and I didn’t really enjoy it. So it was a very good educational experience for me. And now I know that I need to be getting paid what I’m worth. And I think every single yoga instructor, whether you teach at a studio, private clients, festivals, conferences, you need to be getting paid what you’re worth. Either that or it’s something you’re feeling super passionate about.
Shauna: Do you have any tips for teachers who want to get a little bit more noticed? Any tips for filling out those applications that might give us a little edge above others?
Heather: Great question. I definitely think there is an art to filling out applications.
First, have a good yoga teacher bio. You’ve been teaching for a while, you should have one written up. If you teach at a studio, you’re not going to use that same exact bio. The bio that I have for studios is a completely different bio than the one that I send out to festivals because it’s very similar to a cover letter. It’s going to be super specific to that event. You’re also going to want to have a more fun bio. If you’re trying to be out in the festival community, you can’t be boring. You need to be someone that’s attention grabbing. Perhaps your bio turns into more of a story then an actual biography format.
Also, be active in the community that you’re trying to teach to. Usually on social media you can find festival communities, such as Sonic Bloom Community. Be a social butterfly with the people that you’re trying to teach to. Not only will this make your classes more applicable to them when you do get the gig, but it’ll make people want to go to them. You’re not going to be teaching to just five people that just so happened to know that you’re going to be teaching at a certain time at a festival. You’re going to have a whole community so excited that you are there and you get to offer something that they perhaps have never had before.
Networking is super duper important. Also fun pictures. I know that everyone’s all about their yoga Instagram pictures these days but it’s not even about who’s got the best hand stand picture.
It’s who embodies the personality and the vibes that the crowd would jive with.
Allison: I love that you brought in the networking again because I think it’s important. Just because you have an Instagram and you have a yoga class doesn’t mean that people actually know who you are. You have to network, online and in person. Working that network is important. There’s no better way to really get your name out there.
Shauna: This is a great time to mention our Yoga Teacher Talk events, since we’re talking about networking. One of the best networks to utilize is other yoga teachers. Sharing this kind of knowledge that we’re talking about today, this experience, this wide diversity of backgrounds, experience and passion we can really support and utilize all of this knowledge when we come together. We’re starting monthly gatherings at rotating studios around Longmont and looking to happily expand. It just so happens that Allison, I and Heather live in Longmont. We have our first meetup on April 19th at 7:15 at Shri Studios in the Longmont Climbing Collective. We also have another date set for May at Verve Movement Studio in Longmont. This is a nice opportunity to get teachers together in one place, maybe see people you haven’t seen in a while, or meet new people. We will be talking about all things related to being a yoga teacher and supporting each other and having a nice Friday evening together.
Shauna: Heather, what’s been your favorite experience so far? Out of all the festivals and all the events that you’ve done what would be your top experience?
Heather: I have to say it’s a tie between that ridiculously awesome 75+ person class at Planet Bluegrass right here in Lyons, Colorado. Because that was the best energy that I have ever felt from a group of Yogis. Everyone was there to have fun. It’s one of the most happening festivals in this area that we all are located in. And there were so many people, it was amazing. I felt so ecstatic when I left that place.
But this one also is tied with Aloha, which I mean traveling across the sea, having the honor to teach in Hawaii with my friend TLooP a yoga musician. I believe that has given me a little bit of a niche to teaching with live music at these festivals.
I mean teaching yoga on the beach at a festival- it doesn’t get much better than that.
Shauna: Thank you so much Heather for sharing with us today. How can people find you and connect with you?
Heather: I am super happy to make myself available to any questions. I know that this is a really niche area to get yourself into and there may be a lot of questions that we didn’t go over today. So if you want to reach out and have some questions feel free to reach out on Facebook. Also, I teach Monday nights at Full Circle Yoga where I did my teacher training. And I do have a very awesome set of clients that I see every week, sometimes more than once a week. So I’m always taking new clients and always happy to work with someone.
Thank you so much Heather! Until next time,
Allison Rissel & Shauna Hylenski
Yoga Teachers of Colorado – President & Membership Manager