Tagyoga community

How to Build a Yoga Community

How to Build a Yoga Community

One of the worst things about this current crisis and the lockdown, is the loneliness.

Loneliness is one of the number ONE factors in deciding life expectancy and can shorten a person’s life span by around 15 years. This extraordinary fact shows how social interactions are not only pleasurable but essential for life.

Part of our job as yoga teachers is to offer a regular place for people to come together with others who are like-minded; to feel part of a supportive community. And, during this crisis, this role is more important than ever.

Why yoga teachers are well-placed to build community

As we become established yoga teachers, we notice the effect that it has on our yoga students. Hopefully, they will start to cultivate their own home yoga practice. You can see the instructions you give them going deeper, making sense in their bodies and not just their minds.

It also starts to become a more and more important part of their life, as they realise the benefits it brings. They see their yoga classes as a sanctuary, a place where they can be themselves and spend time with like-minded people.

This sense of community is a valuable and beautiful thing to cultivate, and as yoga teachers we are perfectly placed to add a real sense of belonging to our students’ lives.

What is a yoga community?

A community is a group of people that have the same beliefs and needs, or a unified body of individuals. This last definition is a great one, as yoga literally means to join, to unify – and of course, the body is how we do that.

As a yoga teacher there’s a lot we can do to encourage a sense of community and it has many benefits. And while it has many benefits for your students, it is also beneficial to you, because if your students feel like they belong to a community, they’re much more likely to be loyal to you and your class. Building brand loyalty is one of those marketing holy grails!

Practical ways to build community

Let’s start with the basics, the first thing is to know all your students’ names! This can be a real stumbling block for some, but there are memory games you can use to help if you struggle to remember names. And at the moment if you’re teaching on Zoom, you should be able to see everyone’s names on the screen. It might be worth reminding them to make sure they log in with their names, and not ‘iPad’.

When we get back to in-person teaching, there are lots of ways to encourage community. You can encourage students to come to class a little earlier and start a conversation from the front of the class – making sure you include everybody, and drawing everyone in.

This can be applied to online live-stream teaching too. Make sure you’re online in the meeting space in plenty of time and encourage students to be in gallery mode with the microphones on if they want to chat (not if they’re just banging around and ejecting the cat).

Do things together – Karma yoga

This applies more once lockdown is finished and we can get back to in-person teaching. But even then, we don’t know how yoga teaching is going to be. It may well be that we won’t be able to teach in a small space for quite a while. But there are other ways to get together to build your yoga community.

Karma yoga is the yoga of selfless actions. Encourage a sense of giving and shared community within your student body. If you run a yoga studio get them involved in the upkeep of the building, in return for a nice lunch or free lessons.

While we’re still social distancing you could suggest a yoga lesson outside, where it’s safer. You could even suggest a mindfulness ‘yoga walk’ once we’re allowed to meet in larger groups.

Be generous!

There are a lot of yoga teachers out there, and if you want to keep your yoga students loyal to you it’s worth going above and beyond. Plus the more you give, the more you get – that’s just a good old fact of life.

So, what about giving out bespoke home practice sequences to your students? Write a regular blog to help them establish a home practice, and ask them to let you know how their home practice is going.

If you’re confident enough to teach workshops, ask them what workshops they’d like to do, so that they feel included in your decision-making process and to highlight the fact that you’re there to guide them on their yoga journey.

Keep in touch with them over email and if they’re usually a regular student, check in if they miss classes to make sure they’re ok.

Create a supportive community for yourself too

As a yoga teacher you also need a support structure! So make the effort to keep in touch with your own teachers, as well as spend time with other yoga teachers. This is such a great way to discuss issues that you might be struggling with.

Practice with other teachers and make the effort to go to other teacher’s classes, you’ll be surprised at what you might learn. At the moment this could be done on Zoom, or just by practicing at the same time and then having a chat afterwards to share how it went. Did we mention we’re running free Saturday and Sunday sessions at the moment?

Use your social media accounts wisely, follow other yoga teachers who inspire you (but don’t make you feel rubbish about yourself), and reach out online to create a sense of belonging to the wider yoga community.

However…

Remember that there’s a fine line between being someone’s teacher and someone’s friend. Yes, it’s fine to have friends in your classes. But when you’re teaching, you’re the teacher and they’re the student. They come to class to be taught, not to be your friend.

It’s also tempting to give too much as a teacher. You are not their therapist or carer, the primary focus is to be their guide on their path to yoga.

Poppy Pickles

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! (more…)

Poppy Pickles

Getting Ready for Yoga Teaching After Lockdown

Getting Ready for Yoga Teaching After Lockdown

The global pandemic has changed all our lives – there will be BC (Before Coronavirus) and AC (After Coronavirus)  – and it may well be that the way we teach yoga will be altered for a while to come. Rather than being depressed or concerned, we can be prepared for this new way of working. And just as teaching online has given us a whole new skill set, as well as some surprising advantages, there may well be some pros to easing back to in-person teaching.

As our European counterparts start to come out of lockdown and pictures of Italian squares being filled with people emerge, we are currently awaiting announcements from the government as to how and when social distancing restrictions will be lifted. Normal life will resume, but not quite as we know it.

To help you prepare for getting back to in-person teaching, we’ve put together some best-practice guidelines, aka handy hints and tips, ahead of studios re-opening.

Safety First

When it comes to a pandemic, the motto is safety first. Our yoga students, employers, employees, and the people we hire our spaces from – we want to make sure that getting back to teaching is with the health and safety of our whole yoga community in mind.

This means that, just because the government says that we can get back to work, it doesn’t mean that we should. It’s worth thinking about the risks before you agree to go back to teaching in person.

  • Does the place where you teach adhere to any new government-issued health and safety requirements?
  • Will you be able to ensure that the yoga studio is kept properly clean?
  • Will your students’ health be put at risk due to the space in which you teach?
  • Will your own health be at risk?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, then you might want to think carefully before committing to in-person classes again.

Plan your Return

Before planning in-person classes again, you should be clear on what the government guidelines are. We’d also recommend checking with your insurance providers, to make sure you’re covered for teaching in-person classes before you make any plans.

We’ve now spent six weeks adapting to lockdown life and, within a few weeks, we could be getting back to teaching in person. Instead of finding that you’re caught between the two, have a plan of action.

This plan could include checking with your students whether they’d be happy to return to classes yet. Also, check with the studios or venues that you teach to see what their plans for re-opening are. If you have your own yoga studio then make sure you’re completely aware of the health and safety guidelines published by the government or by the World Health Organisation.

A Phased Return

This could be the approach that many yoga businesses take. Instead of rushing from all-online to all-in-person, a gradual return to physical classes could be a safer and more considered way of doing it. By bringing back half your classes and keeping the rest as live-streaming or online classes, then you can reduce the number of students per class, which will help keep social distancing measures in place.

Practical Safety Measures

Social Distancing – In all likelihood, social distancing measures will be in place for a while to come – some scientists have been saying till 2022! So it will be worth thinking about keeping student numbers down to a level where 2 metres between students can be maintained. For smaller venues, this will be very challenging and could mean that it’s not financially viable to go back to teaching in-person yet. To help keep control of numbers, it could be worth taking advance bookings only and avoiding drop-ins for now.

Props – At the moment it would be a good idea to restrict the use of communal mats or props. As an Iyengar yoga teacher, I usually lug a huge bag of bricks and blocks to each class. Post Covid-19 I will no longer be doing this (internal cheer) as I will be asking all my students to bring their own. That way, the risk of cross-contamination is greatly reduced.

Class Plan – if your classes involve a lot of student movement, it may well be worth reducing this for the time being – keeping students to their mats to avoid students going near each other’s equipment or getting too close by mistake. Think about poses that need a lot of physical adjustments; you might want to avoid those for now or think of other ways to do them.

Payment – by keeping your bookings to advance bookings only you’ll reduce the need for cash payments, which aren’t a good idea at the moment. If you haven’t set up online payments yet then you could try using PayPal or stripe on your website. If this is too technical for you, you could get a website designer to add them for you for a small fee.

Records – it’s always been important to keep clear records and registers, but even more so now. Make sure your registers are kept up to date, so that if a case of COVID-19 is reported you can immediately notify anyone else who was in the same class. But don’t forget privacy laws – don’t name the person without their permission.

Cleanliness – this is doubly important now. Ask your students to regularly clean their yoga equipment. Ask them to wash their hands before coming into the class. Make sure you wash your hands (for the regulation ‘Happy Birthday’ x2 length of time) before and after each class.

Face Masks – the UK still seems to be in two minds about whether face masks are a good idea or not, but other European countries are making them compulsory in public spaces. If government guidelines recommend them, you’ll need to decide whether you want to teach a class wearing a mask. It might be that you ask students to wear masks to the class and outside while waiting, and then take them off once inside. You will need to be clear on what the guidelines are for this. (Our marketing team here is thinking of creating colourful designs for our teachers… Face masks, the new fashion accessory?! Let us know on instagram if you’d wear one of ours!).

If YOU Get Ill – have a back-up plan in case you’re taken ill. You can’t take any chances, even if you think it’s just a cold  – and remember, it’s also YOUR health that you’re protecting. If you’re self-employed, your health is your business and you can’t teach if you’re ill.

Reviewing your Classes

Once you’ve made the decision to teach in-person classes again, it will be worth reviewing how things are going a few weeks in. If student numbers are very low, and the restrictions are affecting your ability to teach yoga properly, it might be better to go back to online teaching. As we said earlier, just because you can go back to teaching in-person doesn’t mean you have to.

On the other hand, it might be a lifeline for those students who haven’t been able to use online technology to keep their yoga going. For those people that live on their own, the social aspect of yoga classes is what keeps them coming week after week, and if you’re able to provide even small classes then it might be worth the financial hit.

Poppy Pickles
For inspiration

6 Bad Reasons Not to Become a Yoga Teacher

6 Bad Reasons Not to Become a Yoga Teacher
Image Credit: Contemporary Jewish on Flickr.
Image Credit: Contemporary Jewish on Flickr.

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and signing up to do a yoga teacher training course, there will be a multitude of doubts, excuses and fears that arise in your mind. As yogis, we’ve already thought, felt, and experienced them all — so let us metaphorically take your hand and lead you through them and out the other side. (more…)

Poppy Pickles