Congratulations! You’ve done it: you’re a two hundred hour Yoga Alliance certified Yoga Instructor. The world is your oyster. Will you travel abroad and teach on the go? Will you set up shop at your locally owned studio, or perhaps you’re already on the path to teach for a more established network of studios.
No matter where you new skill set and brilliant mind will take you in this exciting chapter of your life, one things will be for sure - you will be around many different people.
The etymology of the word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” meaning to join, or yoke. So in the very basis of this ancient philosophy, yoga asks us to bring things together- in this case, people. This leads us to our main topic: building consistent attendance in your yoga classes.
There are many ways to go about creating a consistent community of students to take your class. Whether they are public, private, semi-private, or event based, there are several different approaches to maintain your student base in a fun, and genuine way.
Step 1: Identify who you are as a teacher.
As spoken by Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
One of the best ways to set you up for success as a teacher is to establish some basics:
- What makes you unique as a teacher? What do you do well, or what is your “niche?”
- What formats are you confident teaching? Are you certified and confident in multiple formats? Never risk teaching without confidence in your current knowledge base- your students can see right though it. If they don’t trust you, they will not want to come back. Always lead with honesty and Satya (truthfulness).
- Identify if you have any special skills: Do you play an instrument or sing, or know someone who does? Adding live music to your classes can be a nice added perk for students, and you can schedule it in advance to give them something to look forward to. Do you have a background in physical therapy? Use that in your sequencing and cueing to share your knowledge.
If you are authentic in your teaching, your students will feel it and respect the vibe you put out. When your students know what to expect in your class and you are your most true self, they will be more likely to come back.
Avoid the pitfalls of putting on a “yoga persona,” and know that you can’t please everyone- so make a commitment to do your best, and to be your best self.
Step 2: Identify your student base.
The second thing to think about is where you want to teach.
- Who do you want your students to be? Are you comfortable teaching all ages, lifestyles, and students with different abilities and limitations? Do you want to tailor your teaching to a specific group of people such as those with disabilities, athletes in training, or children? This will affect the jobs you look for, how you market yourself and your classes, and will help you build your brand.
- Where are you willing to teach? What is the commute like? Can you consistently arrive on time, regardless of your transportation means, so that your classes are taught in the timeline promised? Starting or finishing late does not abide by the yogic principle of Asteya (non-stealing) because are not respecting one of your students most valuable resources: time.
- What hours are you willing to teach? Are you an early riser, or does committing to that new 6 a.m. class pose a risk of you over sleeping? Will you do your best work at that new late night class?
- What class size are you looking to instruct to? Large classes give you the opportunity to be around more people, leading to potentially more money. Smaller classes often make it easier to connect on a more one on one basis, which can lead to private clients. Explore both, and play to your strengths - there are many different places around the world to instruct and find a home that matches your goals.
Step 3: Plan your class.
Always come to class prepared in your own way and wiling to adapt your plan to serve your students. Avoid the pitfall of trying to impress your students, and remember it’s your job to set them up for success and longevity in their practice.
- What postures do you want to teach? Make sure you are confident in instructing a well-balanced sequence that is accessible to all levels with a proper warm up and cool down to avoid injury.
- Create a series that falls over multiple weeks to keep people coming back; Like four weeks to handstand, or seven weeks, seven chakras. A specific body part focus per week for a month such as hips, spine, or core. A journey through the yoga sutras. Explore Ayurveda with a week for each dosha. While this will require more time and preparation from you as a teacher, it gives students something to come back to each week and look forward to. Make sure to share with your students that you are teaching a series so that it is not a secret and they won’t want to miss out.
Step 4: Build relationships with your students.
Of all the ways to build consistency in your classes, this could be the most important.
- Learn your student’s names and use them before, during, and after class.
- Learn your students’ goals so you can help them achieve them.
- Be visible during class and make eye contact.
- Praise your students for their efforts in an honest and individual way
- Are you confident with hands on assists for postures? Offering physical connection and assistance to a class can deepen the connection between you and your students and take your teaching to the next level. Note that physical assists are not required to teach a great yoga class; they just add on - like icing on a cake. (**Note always give students an option to opt out of hands on connection before class starts to respect their personal space if they wish not to be touched)
- Create a space for students to be themselves without judgment. Your students want you to teach to their unique selves, versus asking them to adapt to something that they are not. When they feel successful in their own bodies, minds, and lives they will crave more of your accessibility.
- How can you keep connecting off the mat? Offer a weekly or monthly event after or before class like a coffee or social hour. This helps students meet other students - thus growing your community, and allows them to take their yoga off the mat. Maybe you want to offer a weekly run, or a monthly hike with guided meditation.
- Build relationships through social media to stay connected when you’re not in the classroom. Be mindful with this, as you want your social media to mirror how you want your students to see you in your best light.
- Make an effort to remember your students week to week so you don’t have that awkward moment of introducing yourself to someone you already met.
- Show up to teach your classes, and avoid getting subs. The more consistent you are, the more consistent your students will be. The beauty of yoga is it brings people together. Not only are you building exposure to your awesome self and brand, but also you are helping connect the world something we will always seek and need as humans. If you lead from your heart, practice acceptance and patience, model consistency yourself, students will stick to you like yellow on bananas.