In today’s yoga marketplace, students have their pick of literally thousands of yoga teachers to lead them in their practice. Virtual classes are more popular than ever, even as students are returning to smaller classes in the studio.
For professional yoga teachers, the industry has never been more competitive. You must create a loyal student base for your classes if you want to keep working in this rewarding field. But how?
The answer is a concept known as the “signature moment.” This service-oriented effort permeates many industries as a goal of offering that extra something that makes the experience pleasantly memorable. Think about times when restaurants gave you a free, surprise treat at the end of your meal or those boutiques with employees who serve as personal shoppers, fetching sizes and encouraging you to try on different looks.
A signature moment can (and should!) happen in a yoga class, too. It’s what your students take away with them as they roll up their yoga mat. It’s what makes them excited for your next class.
A year ago, you could invite a signature moment through luxurious relaxation assists in savasana with cold towels, shoulder massages, or essential oil on temples. But with health precautions putting touch on at least a temporary pause, yoga teachers now must be more creative.
Here are 10 ideas to stay competitive with the ultimate signature moment.
Examples Of Signature Moments
1. Meaningful Meditation
Yoga teacher Joanne Bianco will never forget the class she took while visiting Kansas City. Her teacher led a guided meditation that connected the upturned corners of her smile to her shoulders and her heart. Not only did she remember it as she packed up her mat, but she now shares it in the classes she leads.
Most yoga students are still developing their meditation practice, and many appreciate guided meditation to help them feel more comfortable. Take five minutes at the beginning or end of your asana class to encourage students to meditate with a creative visualization.
2. A Special Playlist
I love music, so it was never hard for me to come up with playlists that were special for my class. I’ve made many soundtracks, including ones that were in sync with particular themes. As a result, I could teach a flow that included special moments of both stillness and fast-pace movement.
South Florida yoga studio owner Mary Veal teaches weekly “Rock and Roll” yoga classes with mixes featuring popular artists. There’s always a fun point in class where someone can’t help but sing a line out loud. Sometimes the signature moment can be just the right musical vibe.
3. Sweet Scents
Burning some palo santo or sage before students enter is a nice way to clear the energy of a studio room, and many teachers light a stick of incense as everyone gets set up. Scent can trigger powerful memories and emotions, and a distinct scent can “smell like yoga” for your students.
Tread gently, however. It’s easy to overdo smells, and some people are particularly sensitive. Before you integrate an essential oil blend in a diffuser in class, check in with your students.
4. Inspiring Quotes
It’s possible to build an entire class theme around one poignant quote. Introduce the quote at the beginning of class, as everyone is first getting centered on their mats. Explain why it is meaningful to you on a personal level, perhaps relating something that happened during your week to make you think of the message.Repeat the quote at choice times throughout your class. Help students focus during especially challenging yin-style poses by encouraging them to meditate on the quote. Bring it up at the end as they are slowly emerging from savasana.
5. Give Props!
What if everyone grabbed a block today? If you’re leading a studio class, distribute clean blocks once all the students have arrived. Then, integrate the block in every pose. Props are an excellent way to improve alignment and create that special signature moment.Students love it when their teacher shows them something they’ve never done before. Have you taught surya namaskar with a block in between the thighs for internal rotation? Try bridge pose with the students’ tailbones supported on blocks. Show your students there’s no shame in the block (or bolster) game.
6. A Formidable Challenge
During my teacher training, one of my teachers Scott Feinberg announced to a packed room that we were all going to attempt Dragonfly pose. We looked around nervously; only a couple people were confident. But when the flow finally rested on the peak pose, we all tried. (I fell down – and laughed!
A challenging pose as a signature moment encourages your students to expand what they think is possible for themselves. Handstands against the wall, even for two seconds, can be more of a handstand than a student had held in the last decade. Be sure to prepare with many opening poses so you can set them up for success first.
7. Simple Handout
The best way to ensure a student remembers the signature moment in your class is to provide them with a tangible takeaway associated with it. A simple, half-page, black-and-white photocopy handout is more than most teachers offer, and it will help you stand apart.
Your handout could be a list of heart-opening poses, a daily challenge for the week, an in-depth look at the theme you presented, or a quick overview of a particular pose you introduced that day.
8. Sanskrit Stories
Depending on your training, you may always or never share the Sanskrit name for poses or breathing techniques with your students. But as one of only two languages with a spiritual resonance (Hebrew being the other), you can create a signature moment by keeping this dead language alive.Whenever I teach Hanumanasana, for example, I share the story of the monkey god leaping across the ocean to save Ram’s wife Sita. Explaining the meaning behind the Sanskrit can make the pose more meaningful and the class memorable.
9. Yogi Jokes
Why do Hare Krishnas have such clean hands? Because instead of singing “Happy Birthday” when they wash up, they sing “Hare Krishna.” That song never ends!
There’s no need to be so serious in class. Have fun! Share a joke at the beginning of every class, and the smiles (or eye rolls) will be your signature moment.
10. Card Offerings
If you own a deck of oracle cards that you enjoy, bring them to class. You can place a card at the top of every student’s mat to give them something to consider during their practice. You may be surprised at how this personalized touch is exactly what some people need to strengthen them during a difficult time.
Whatever signature moment you chose for your class, make sure that it is authentic to your teachings. This isn’t about adding a gimmick to get students; it’s a goal of enhancing, deepening, and creating better experience for everyone.