CategoryPractice

A Yoga Teacher Marketing Toolkit: How to Promote Yourself

A Yoga Teacher Marketing Toolkit: How to Promote Yourself

Being a yoga teacher is a great job. You’re doing something you love, and teaching other people to love yoga as much as you do. But there’s a lot more to being a yoga teacher than just teaching yoga.

Students don’t just turn up by magic – sadly. In order to get students through your door, and then keep them coming, you need to do some marketing. Which for some yoga teachers is a thing they love to hate.

If you have a background in marketing then congratulations, you’ve got a big advantage! But most of us don’t, and have to learn from scratch how to keep our classes full. So here’s a basic ‘how-to’ of yoga marketing, just to get you started. And who knows, you might even start to enjoy it!

Your Yoga website

Some teachers maintain that they don’t need a website, and use Facebook and other social media to get their details out there. Others think that having a website means that there’s a more structured way that potential students can search for you and find out information. It’s up to you, but as a way of controlling and updating your ‘brand’ image, as well as coming up in Google searches, having a website is very helpful.

It’s worth bearing in mind that having a website is an extra cost, as you have to pay an annual fee for the domain name, the site, and fees for other ‘add ons’ (for example, you opt for an email address to go with your website).

Squarespace and WordPress are popular website platforms, but there are loads of well-designed platforms out there that make it easy to build and maintain your website. Wix and Mailchimp are also currently offering a free website-building service – although it’s worth noting Mailchimp’s offering is pretty basic at this stage as it’s not their core product (see Mailchimp Emails, below!).

The key is to keep it simple. Look at other yoga teacher’s websites that you admire, and take notes. Keep your home page uncluttered, clear – and don’t forget to keep it updated.

A Yoga Blog

A regular blog is a great way to keep your students engaged, and it should also mean that your website goes higher up the Google search list. The key is to keep it regular though, so once you’ve decided to write one, think about how often is realistic. For example, publishing a monthly blog can fit into most people’s schedules. It also means you’re not filling up the inboxes of your email list.

Mailchimp Emails

And talking of email lists, Mailchimp is a pretty essential marketing tool. It’s also free up to a certain amount of people. Find a way of collecting every student’s email address. For example, you could use a medical form that you give to every student who attends your classes. As part of the form you can ask for their email address, just make sure to add a clear paragraph about them agreeing to be sent information, in line with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that came in in 2018.

You could also add a landing page to your website, perhaps offering something for free in exchange for an email address. That way you can grow your mailing list from online sources.

Use your Mailchimp email list to notify students and prospective students about upcoming workshops, or send out your blog to your students before posting it on your website. Regular contact using high-quality content will keep you in mind and mean that they’re more likely to get in touch.

Taking Online Bookings

The current crisis has highlighted our reliance on the internet, and this is set to increase, especially as cash is being avoided at the moment. As up-to-date yoga teachers, it’s worth working out how to take online bookings for your classes.

In order to set up online bookings for regular lessons, you can use scheduling apps that link to your website. Many yoga studios use Mindbody as an external booking system for the classes. Or, using Paypal or Stripe, for example, you can set up a ‘products’ page on your website, so that people can pay for each class separately.

Posting on Social Media

The main social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each one is used in slightly different ways and attract different users.

Starting your own Facebook page is a useful way of reaching out to local people, Instagram is about the yoga community, and Twitter is more about interesting info on the subject.

Once you get into posting on social media this is when the small job of marketing can consume your every waking hour. It’s helpful to pick a platform that you feel the most comfortable on – being aware of your target market too. For example, if you’re going for slightly older students, then Facebook is probably the platform.

Once you’ve decided which one to focus on you can start to get organised, using a scheduling tool such as buffer. Due to the algorithms that these platforms are run on, you have to keep up a regular stream of posts in order to come high up in people’s news feeds.

However, there’s a balance. Some experts would have you posting twenty times a day, but personally I feel this would make me come across like some demented egomaniac. Be consistent, engage with your audience, and make sure you believe in the content that you’re putting up; quality is important.

Leaflets, Flyers, and Posters

This may not be relevant just yet, but once we’re out of lockdown, people will be out and about again and possibly desperate to get back to in-person yoga (when it’s safe to do so, and when you’re ready). This is when good old-fashioned flyers can do the trick, especially if you’re hoping to get new students in your local area.

Keep your posters, simple, colourful and with only the KEY information – don’t write an essay, no one will read it and it will distract from your eye-catching image.

To design your poster you can use apps such as Canva and Adobe Indesign in order to give your finished piece a professional look. Canva in particular is a great tool for non-designers, as it’s extremely easy to use and comes with lots of (free) templates.

Images

Before you do any of the above you’ll need to have some good images. You can, of course, buy high-resolution images (please don’t use low-res pixelated images on your marketing material) from websites such as Shutterstock (as well as some good free ones on Pexels), but having some great pictures of you in action will be worth the money.

Check out images of other yoga teachers that you like and ask them who took their photos. It’s helpful to find a photographer that specialises in yoga photography as they’ll be able to guide you on the shoot.

Have a wide range of photos taken in different outfits and with different backgrounds. If possible, having a few with a plain white background is very useful for flyers and as background pictures.

Word of Mouth

Marketing is important. But it’s also about putting the time in. Once you’ve been teaching regular classes for a few years you will find that you’ve developed a yoga community of your own. You will have regular students who tell their friends about you, and suddenly you’ll find that you haven’t had to do a hard marketing push for a while.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s time to rest on your laurels. There are always reasons why people stop coming to yoga, and you’ll always need new students coming through your doors.

Poppy Pickles

YogaLondon Teachers’ Lockdown Classes

YogaLondon Teachers' Lockdown Classes

Do you miss our teachers as much as we do? Here’s how to stay connected with them during the lockdown.

 

ABI BARBER

Banish any yoga nerves and step on the mat with Abi, who is offering classes every day of the week: everything from Morning Movement & Meditation; Slow Flow, a gentle practice suitable for everyone; and Vinyasa Flow, a more dynamic practice with plenty of room for wobbling and laughing! Suggested price £5-10 depending on duration. Find out more: www.abibiyoga.co.uk

 

ALICE TROW

Her style a mixture of strength and softness, Alice is live-streaming classes on YouTube every Monday morning and Tuesday evening. No need to book – just turn up and she’ll be there, leading you through varied and creative sequences to help you find your flow. Price is £6 a class, £20 for 4 classes or £35 unlimited for the month. Find out more: https://www.alicetrowyoga.com/classes

 

ANAIS MANIAVAL

Anais, YogaLondon’s French Fox, is making the most of her bilingualism by leading a Gentle Flow in French on Wednesdays and a Vinyasa class for all levels in English on Thursdays. Suggested price £5-10 or free for anyone who has lost their job because of the pandemic. Find out more: www.anaisyoga.org 

 

CORRIE MCCALLUM

Our Captain, Corrie, teaches an empowering and fluid style, free from those standardised alignment cues. She blends osteopathy, pain science, somatics, sports science, pilates, psychology and dance to tailor her classes to students. Vinyasa Flow classes and workshops running Tuesday to Thursday; price £6/£10. Find out more: www.stretchbreathesmile.com

 

FRANCESCA SANLORENZO

Philosophy guru Francesca shares her highly experienced teaching that places emphasis on the breath-work, enabling students to develop strength, flexibility, focus and balance both on and off the mat. She offers sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, which connect body movements and breath. Donations accepted as payment. Find out more: www.bunow.co

 

JESS LEITCH

Jess currently offers 5 classes per week online, a mix of slow flow, flow & restore and restorative. All classes are taught with the intention of exploration, growth and self-understanding. Jess is also offering workshops and an online course on emotional resilience. YogaLondon students can sign up to her newsletter for a free class as a thank you for their support during this trying time. Price: £8 for 75 minutes. Find out more: shakeyourbuddhi.com/online 

 

JO HARRIS

Join Jo’s classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Rise and Shine is an open level Vinyasa flow class to energise and get you started for the day. Slow Flow is a moderately paced mindful flow. Pregnancy Yoga is suitable for women from 14 weeks onwards. Price: £8 for drop in or £25 for a 5 class pass. Find out more: www.joharrisyoga.com  

 

JOSHUA LECLAIR

Get ready to play! Joshua teaches high-energy classes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. They’re led by alignment, presence, a sense of play, and encourage students to invite balance into their lives while pushing their boundaries as a yogi and an individual. His passion for theatre and dance merges with yoga to fuel these playful classes. Come prepared to play, find your edge, try new things, and not take anything too seriously! Find out more: yoga.joshualeclair.com

 

LUCINDA BEATTY

Restorative yoga expert, Luci, offers Vinyasa Flow sessions for all levels, as well as Restorative Yoga. Classes run every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and on alternate Fridays. Linking to the breath throughout, the attention is drawn to different parts of the body – finding balance by awakening lazy muscles and relaxing those that do too much work. Suggested donation: £10, feel free to pay what you can. Find out more: lucindabeatty.com

 

SANDRA PATERNOSTRO

Our very own Cheeky Yogi, Sandra, is leading classes on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, offering different flows and variations for all levels. Prices range between £8 and £12 and you can enjoy a free taster class with code YOGALONDON100! Find out more: www.yogaflowsandra.com

 

Have you joined one of our teachers’ online classes? We’d love to see the pictures! Tag us on instagram 🙂

Admin

YogaLondon’s Guide to Lockdown Yoga in the Capital

YogaLondon's Guide to Lockdown Yoga in the Capital

London is in lockdown and the once-bustling streets, shops, and cafes of our beautiful city have fallen quiet for the first time in our lifetimes.

Along with a lot of other businesses, yoga studios all over the capital have had to shut up shop for now too. But out of adversity comes creativity, and many studios have adapted their lessons to online delivery.

Using Zoom, YouTube and other social media platforms there are a whole host of yoga studios offering a tempting array of online lessons, so rather than there being less yoga in your life in lockdown, if anything there could be loads more! And, as well as keeping your yoga up and running, you can also support yoga studios to get through the current crisis.

Here’s YogaLondon’s guide to some of the wide range of studio yoga classes on offer at the moment:

The Shala

Based in West Norwood, this small, independent yoga studio has moved all its classes online using Zoom, which is the online platform that most closely resembles a live class. They are keeping class sizes small so teachers can easily see all the students in the classes for a more intimate experience. Styles of yoga on offer include Flow yoga, Restorative yoga, Dynamic yoga, and Post-natal yoga. They are offering several price packages, but you can do a trial class for free to make sure it works for you. www.theshalalondon.com

Light Centre

With three of their Central London studios all closing their doors, the Light Centre have taken their extensive timetable of classes online, offering Power yoga, Yin yoga, and Mandala Vinyasa yoga, among others. They have an introductory offer of 7 classes over 7 days for £7, and classes are free for NHS staff. They are also offering workshops including an online yoga workshop for better sleep. www.lightcentremonument.co.uk

YogaWorks

Set in the leafy South London suburb of Wandsworth, this small studio’s goal is to provide yoga classes from all levels from the absolute beginner to the more advanced yogi. They have moved a large selection of their classes online including a Gentle Beginner’s yoga class for those unused to stretching and Vinyasa and Yin yoga for all levels. They have an introductory offer of £20 for 4 classes to be used over a month. www.yogaworkslondon.co.uk

Essence of Good Health

With a real belief that no one should be exempt from the benefits of yoga, Essence of Good Health Yoga has been providing free hatha yoga classes in the southeast of London for over 15 years. They have continued this offering during lockdown, with all their classes available for free via Zoom links on their website. They’re even offering Saturday morning yoga for kids if yours are starting to bounce off the walls! www.freeyoga.co.uk

Yogarise

Set in trendy urban spaces in cool London areas like Brixton, Yogarise has attracted a loyal following over the years. They have moved their classes online and have adapted their price packages accordingly. Prices are per household, so the whole family can join in if they (or you) want – prices start at £7 per class. Styles of yoga available are Ashtanga, Jivamukti, and Vinyasa yoga classes, and they are hoping to add more. www.yogarise.london

Triyoga

Not exactly a small yoga studio, but they are a London stalwart and have been providing top-quality yoga classes for twenty years. They have now moved their impressive array of classes online so that you can still enjoy a class with your favourite London teachers, as well as adding to their workshops with ‘visiting’ yoga luminaries from abroad. Their most popular payment package is a 10 class pass for £70. www.triyoga.co.uk

The Yoga Hutch

A small but perfectly-formed studio in Surbiton, The Yoga Hutch are running Zoom classes including a Guided Ashtanga class and a Mysore-style led practice, which is suitable for more advanced Ashtanga yogis. They are keeping classes small in line with their usual practice. Prices start from £10 for a drop-in class and £30 for 5 classes over 7 days. www.theyogahutch.com

Flex Chelsea

This is a relatively new studio set in Fulham with a dynamic timetable to keep toned yoga bunnies busy. Power Flow is a strong vinyasa flow, which promises to be as much a cardio workout as it is a yoga class – rigorous practice with longer holds and the introduction of more advanced postures. If that sounds too full-on for you there’s also Slow Flow, Chill Flow and Yin yoga. Prices include a package of 10 lessons for £50. www.flexchelsea.com

Sangye Yoga School

Formerly Jivamukti Yoga London, this studio, based in Ladbroke Grove, has moved a selection of its Vinyasa and Jivamukti lessons online.  Sangye means awakened in Tibetan, and their yoga classes will definitely wake you up with ‘vigorously physical and intellectually stimulating’ classes on offer. They have an introductory offer of £40 for 30 consecutive days of yoga… Well, what else are we doing? www.sangyeyoga.com


YogaLondon is also offering free Vinyasa flow and Exam Sequence practice sessions to graduates and students this May.

 

Poppy Pickles

The Definitive Guide to the Mudras

The Definitive Guide to the Mudras

Where would we be without our hands? We do so much with them.

They express our innermost feelings even when we ourselves aren’t even aware of it, the opposable thumb and index finger give us the fine motor skills that differentiate us from most of the animal kingdom (bar the monkey family). Our hands are used to stroke our children, communicate, write, shake hands in greeting, and also as weapons when curled into fists.

mudra jana yoga meditation
Image Credit: Syed Bukhari via Pexels.

The hands are also important in yoga, and nowhere more important than in the practice of mudras, meaning seal, mark or gesture. Most mudras (but not all) are gestures with the hands and are specific positioning of the fingers, thumbs, and whole hands. Historically they are used in religious ceremonies and rites to symbolise different meanings.

But what are they? Can they actually benefit us, or are they just symbolic gestures used in ceremonies and rituals?

The Mudras and Prana

Mudras are not just symbolic hand gestures, they are so much more. This becomes clearer when we factor in prana – or subtle energy. The goal of the yoga postures is to prepare the body for pranayama, or control of the breath. When we practice the mudras, this is another way of influencing the dispersal of prana throughout the body.

In Mudras for Modern Life Swami Saradananda writes:

Since ancient times, Indian philosophy has taught that how the fingers move and touch each other influences the flow of prana, the life-giving energy within the body.

Mudras are so effective because they help to clear energetic blockages, which impede the flow of prana through the body.  This is because the energetic pathways (called nadis) mostly either start or finish in your hands or feet. So working with your hands is a particularly effective way of cleansing these subtle channels of any impurities, and directing the prana in healthier directions.

Mudras and the Chakras

The mudras also affect the flow of prana through the chakras. The chakras are particularly important to clear because they are points where the nadis intersect with the most density. The seven main chakras are located along the spine, moving up from the root, lower abdomen, solar plexus, heart, throat, forehead and the crown of the head. But there are also other chakras, such as the ones in the hands. These are also essential as they are directly linked to the heart and transmit a flow of healing energy out from the heart centre.

For example, Anjali Mudra (or Namaskarasana), which is the joining of the palms and bringing the base of the thumbs to the base of the breastbone, aligns the hands with the heart chakra.

The Mudras and the Elements

mudras earth element yoga
Image Credit: Bartosz Bąk via Unsplash.

Each finger and thumb relates to one of the five great elements.

  • the thumb relates to fire
  • the index finger relates to air
  • the middle finger relates to ether
  • the ring finger relates to earth
  • the little finger relates to water

So, mudras that focus on the different fingers and thumbs have a different set of elemental, energetic and emotional benefits.

Some Important Mudras

Some mudras come up with more frequency and are perhaps more important than others. Jnana Mudra, for example, is traditionally used in Siddhasana (Sage Pose) and during pranayama. B K S Iyengar gives this clear description in Light on Yoga:

Stretch the arms out straight and rest the back of the wrists on the knees. Join the tips of the index fingers to the tips of the thumbs, keeping the other fingers extended. (This position or gesture of the hand is known as the Jnana Mudra, the symbol or seal of knowledge. The index finger symbolises the individual soul and the thumb the universal soul. The union of the two symbolises knowledge.)

Sanmukhi mudra is another important mudra, which is often used to prepare the body and mind for pranayama and meditation. San means six and mukha means mouth. Sanmukha is the name of the six-headed god of war, also known as Kartikeya. This mudra is also known as Parangmukhi Mudra (facing inwards), as the student looks within himself to find the very source of his being.

Sanmukhi mudra is when the hands are placed over the face shutting out the outside world. The ears are blocked by the thumbs, the index fingers and middle fingers rest over the eyelids and the ring fingers and little fingers control the breath. The senses are turned inwards, the sound of your own rhythmic breathing calms the mind, and there is a feeling of inner peace.

Some Non-hand Mudras

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, not all mudras are to do with hand gestures. Khechari Mudra – literally ‘roaming through space’ – is a tongue mudra, and is NOT to be tried at home. Described in the religious text Gheranda Samhita (3:25 – 28), it is described as cutting the lower tendon of the tongue and moving the tongue constantly (aided with the addition of fresh butter) and drawing it out with an iron instrument. Once achieved the practitioner will experience no hunger, thirst, fainting or laziness…we’ll pass on that one, thanks!

Maha Mudra – the great seal, is a whole-body mudra, or pose, which also encompasses the three main bandhas, Jalandhara Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and Mula Bandha, in order to seal prana within the body.

The Benefits of the Mudras

In order to feel the benefits of the mudras, you need to practice regularly, preferably daily, and for a decent amount of time. But if you are prepared to put in the time, regular practice can help to:

  • ensure prana moves freely to keep your body and mind well-balanced and healthy
  • increase flexibility and mobility of your hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders

    meditation yoga man seated mudra
    Image Credit: Spencer Selover via Pexels.

  • improve technique if you play an instrument or hand-intensive sport
  • boost mental acuity and concentration
  • ease symptoms of common ailments
  • overcome emotional difficulties, from anger to grief
  • purge your sub-conscious mind of negativity
  • develop a regular meditation practice
  • encourage inner peace and a sense of oneness with the universe

However, there are a couple of mudras that you can do, which will give you an immediate result, such as Bhairava Mudra. Place the left hand in the lap and rest the right hand in the palm of the left, cradling it. This mudra is for when you find yourself in a situation that you find scary, and will bring you an immediate sense of peace.

Poppy Pickles

Perfect Poses to Prep for Headstand

Perfect Poses to Prep for Headstand

Headstand is one of my favourite poses. A headstand demands much. It requires strength AND flexibility, but that is not all. Turning upside-down and balancing on your head takes courage. And self-belief. A headstand is a mental and physical challenge that, once mastered, continues to be a highlight of time spent on the mat.

Though many of us effortlessly stood on our heads as children, it seems that it is a skill lost to us as adults. So often life robs us of the physical attributes and self-belief that a headstand demands. For me, a headstand requires four things – four things that can be relearnt and woven together to become the joy that your first adult headstand will be. And it is truly a joy.

So What is a Headstand?

A yoga headstand is usually salamba sirsāsana or sirsāsana 1- ‘the king of all poses’ and one of the twelve original poses of hatha yoga.  Here the weight of the body is supported on the forearms and head, with the legs in line with the body. Having said that, there are a whole host of variations to headstand – sirsāsana 2 (tripod headstand); mukta hasta sirsāsana (no hands) and any number of leg positions from padmāsana (lotus) to garudāsana (eagle) legs. The world is your oyster.

Preparation Pathway

The journey to a headstand is a long one path paved with many smaller goals. It is a wonderful journey – full of achievement and self-awareness. For me, it took two years. Twenty-four months of patient, mindful practice, then one day it just came together and there I was upside-down. Have I persuaded you to step on to this path? I hope so. And this is how you can get there.

1. LONG HAMSTRINGS

To be able to get into a headstand you need a whole lot of length down the back of the body. Particularly in the hamstrings. Short hamstrings draw the pelvis forwards from their ideal position directly over the shoulders and head before you lift the legs. This forward pelvic position makes balancing incredibly hard when you lift the second leg.

The solution? Working on hamstring length within a practice before attempting the pose can work if your hamstrings are nearly long enough.

forward fold yoga headstand prep
Image Credit: Jen Armstrong via Zenarmstrong.

But for most of us, it will be a case of working on hamstring length over weeks or maybe months before you can achieve that ideal of hips over head. My favourite poses for this are parsvottanāsana (intense side stretch), janu sirsāsana (head to knee pose) and every version of uttanāsana (forward fold).

2. SUPER SHOULDERS

While balancing in headstand, the forearms are actively pushing down into the mat to allow the body to grow upwards from a firm base. All of the muscles around the shoulder blade are engaged to stabilise the actual shoulder joint. It takes time and effort to build enough strength in the right places to achieve this action. This is where arm balancing poses will help – adho mukha śvānāsana (down dog) and any plank variations are a great place to start. As your shoulders strengthen up move on to ardha pincha mayurāsana (dolphin) and maybe bakāsana (crow) as they will really reap further benefits for your upper body strength.

3. CORE CONTROL

Headstands need core strength in spades. Your core is what provides the stable foundations from which you can lift your legs. It is what gives the inversion stability and balance. Core strength can even compensate for lack of hamstring length or upper body strength.

plank core prep headstand yoga
Image Credit: Li Sun via Pexels.

My favourite core strengtheners are side planks and planks in any variations you like. They are great for static strength. But what about the dynamic strength needed in the core as the legs leave the ground and float overhead? For that, you need a dynamic workout. I use forearm plank into dolphin and back. Repeated 5, 10, 20, 30 times – starting with just a few reps and gradually building up by adding one or two reps each week. As a strength and conditioning workout this exercise is best done on alternate days – not every day. It is fabulous at getting a strong and toned core – what’s not to love?

4. COURAGE

For me, this is the keystone of any inversion. You can have all of the physical elements of a headstand in the bag, but if your head won’t let you turn upside-down it will never work. It takes nerve to balance on your head. It is natural to fear toppling over and hurting yourself. So how can we work to build the courage up to try our first headstand?

Spend time in dolphin – stay there for a few breaths at a time. Try lifting one leg at a time to get the body used to the action needed to get into headstand in the future. Try using the headstand arm and head position in a variation of dolphin and walk the feet towards the head to work on getting the hips over the shoulders. This also helps you to get used to being upside-down. One day you will feel a delicious lightness in the body as you reach the point of balance. Here is where leg lifting is possible. If you find this point – practice lifting one leg at a time in line with the body into one-legged headstand. And when you can do this you are almost ready for the full expression of the pose.

prep headstand yoga inversion
Image Credit: Dane Wetton via Unsplash.

But most importantly – imagine yourself floating into the perfect headstand. Picture yourself poised on your head as you breathe deeply. Explore how it will feel and what you will see in your mind’s eye. Did you know that imagining an activity actually lights up the same parts of the brain that we need to physically do an activity? This sets up the neural pathways needed to succeed. It makes that activity familiar and altogether less scary when you try it for real. Isn’t that amazing?

Bringing it All Together

The path to a perfect headstand is not always smooth. You may find some of the elements come easily but others elude you for months. Be patient. Do not rush. Headstands are worth waiting for.

And of course, not every yogi will be able to achieve a full headstand. Injuries may make it impossible. Headstands are traditionally contraindicated for folk with high blood pressure or hiatus hernia amongst other things. I would also add that anyone with neck problems should think carefully before attempting the full expression of the pose. This is where a headstool still might be worth considering if you want to invert but not put pressure on your neck.

I really hope you enjoy your journey to headstand as much as I have enjoyed mine. It has been one of the most satisfying yoga poses I have, as yet, accomplished. I wish you happy headstand-ing!

Sally Schofield