The ABC’s of teaching private yoga

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I feel so honored to be apart of the Yoga Teacher Blog Tour. 30 Yogis from around the world share their skills behind teaching private yoga! This blog post is one in a series of the #yogateachertour, a blog tour for yoga teachers looking to up-level their impact by teaching one-on-one private yoga sessions and creating a sustainable business around, powerful individual work.

I must say, at first I was hesitant to be apart the tour. Writing isn't really my thing and I teach my private classes to people through my online courses, Empower with Home Yoga, so I felt I might not be the ideal expert on this topic. After speaking with Kate Connell (the organiser of this OMazing event), I realized so long as I speak from the heart, I can't really get it wrong and my wealth of knowledge in teaching individuals online would definitely benefit others. So I came up with my ABC's of teaching private yoga. Enjoy!

A is for availability
When working with people from all around the globe one needs to be available. Sounds straightforward huh?! I realized though, managing my time around people in Europe, Canada, the States, Russia and New Zealand was a challenge. I was trying to manage the different time zones, how to fit people in around my classes and life - it got all too hard. That is until I found some simple appointment scheduling software (I use Timetrade, but there are many more to choose from). This did it all for me. All I had to do was enter in my availability send it to my students and they would find a time that suited them!

B is for Block it out!b
When running your own business it's great to work when you want, but more often than not, it can be an endless supply of to-do lists followed by hours on websites, facebook, twitter, pintrest, etc ... before long your business is ruling you and working when you want just isn't an option anymore. Blocking time out in your calendar for set things is a must! I have blocked out every morning my own practice. If I have to leave at 5am my practice is shorter but it always happens before answering emails and checking social media. Blocking out time for family and friends is a great practice and assists with a greater work/life balance but I also find blocking out time for all the other things that need to get done a profound time saver! Scheduling set time to answer emails, to check facebook, to write blogs etc. gives power. One can take control over their schedule and rather than reacting to whats in front of them, consciously acting on what has been planned. Now in saying this, there are always exceptions to the rule, however I find something magical happens when I know I have 20 mins twice a day to answer emails, they miraculously get done!

C is for consistency
So we all know consistency is a must in our practice and it's just as important in our business too. Here are the reasons why -
Consistency allows for measurement
Until you have tried something new for a period of time and in a consistent manner, you can't decide if it works or not. How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn't performed consistently? By consistently being there for my students, sharing ideas and providing them with valuable tools I can see the benefits in my message and how home yoga can really enhance ones life. Seeing my students, time and time again succeed and be empowered shows the success of my business.
Consistency creates accountability
Being consistent in my classes, my teachings, my responding to emails, answering calls, etc. brings accountability. It reminds me what's important, where I need to focus my attention on and how to go about it.
Consistency maintains your message
I am all about developing a home yoga practice. Taking what one has learnt in a class or on the mat and incorporating it in everyday life. I teach this in my classes, my courses, my retreats and workshops, it maintains my message of empowering people with their home yoga practice.

D is for dates with yourselfheart
You know that feeling you get when you meet someone you like and you go on a date with them. Perhaps this hasn't happened in many years, or maybe it's happening right now ... The feelings of excitement, apprehension, endless possibilities, enhanced awareness, joy, love etc?! Well it might sound a little corny but you can have these feelings when you go out with yourself (maybe not in the extreme, but they can definitely be present). Making dates with yourself is an empowering and sacred practice. Why might one do this you may ask? Well, why not?! If you think about it, the deepest most intimate relationship one can have is with oneself. Getting to know yourself, sending time with you, loving and cherishing all there is about you ... who better to build a relationship with, other than yourself! So what do I do on dates with myself? What I enjoy. I love lighting candles, incense, putting on some soothing music and having a bubble bath. I also enjoy going to other yoga classes, walking along the beach and eating breaky out, doing my Vipasana meditation, having a massage. Whatever speaks to you. It doesn't matter what you do, so long as it's with you.

E is for education
Something I've found with yoga is the more I know, the less I know! This paradox is a common one. I am constantly bamboozled at the wealth and depth this ancient system has to offer. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. This is why I think education is so important. The need for continual training is paramount when teaching. Your students benefit, it sparks your enthusiasm, keeps things fresh and you grow as a teacher and a member of society. As teachers and students of yoga, we never stop learning. So go ahead, book yourself in for some more education and see you teachings flourish!

F is for features versus benefitsq
My invaluable mentor Chris King helped me understand the huge difference between features and benefits. I was telling my students the features of Empower with Home Yoga rather than the benefits. Yeah it's great that my course includes a comprehensive yoga class, pranayama practices, yoga nidra, facebook group, one-on-one skype call, daily emails etc. But what will students actually get from these things? Their own personal home yoga practice that they can do whenever they'd like, wherever they'd like and in whatever they'd like to wear! This gives empowerment and freedom, to be able to communicate this makes it much more appealing than just stating the features.

G is for generating
The light bulb. bubble wrap, iPod, facebook ... these inventions, products and business all started with an idea. Everyone has ideas, generating them, useful ones, is a skill that truly adds value to your teaching. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Generating ideas moves the business along, it keeps it fresh, alive, charged and prana infused. First tip is to carry a notebook (so you don't forgot your brainwave ideas), then listen to your students, ask them what they want, get in nature, be inspired and do something new. Generating ideas allows you to get creative and expand your horizons with teaching.

H is for humanness
When relating to any business, be it a small yoga business or a large corporation, people love humanness. To be able to relate, to talk to a real person, to feel valued and appreciated. These are qualities and traits I aspire to and in my eyes they take one's business and teachings to the next level. Being real, down to earth ... a human, it's what your students want. Show them the true you to open up and deepen your connection by far!

I is for invitationwelcome
This might feel a little awkward at first but you have to invite people to work with you. For years I wished students would just ask to join my online courses. I sent out a monthly email with a sidebar listing my online courses, so I was telling them about it right?! Wrong. People often don't hear what you have to offer in an email, sometimes it actually takes a little more communication - like face to face, on the phone or a personal note. This doesn't need to be a hard sell, your not trying to push them into anything or doing some sleazy marketing ploy. Instead you're providing an opportunity, a space for discussion, questions and for your student to see whats on offer. Showing them the benefits and how private sessions or online courses can take their practice to the next level, to truly empower them. Who wouldn't want this?!

J is for journaling
Journaling is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to accelerate your personal development and business. By getting your thoughts out of your head and putting them down in writing, you gain insights you’d otherwise never see. Journaling allows you to break free of the brain's sequential thinking and examine your thoughts. You can see things in black and white. How they really are. It helps to solve tricky problems, gain clarity and verify your progress. What are you waiting for, grab a pen, a notebook and begin!

K is for knowledge
Most of us have heard the phrase “knowledge is power” - whilst it's one thing to gain knowledge, using it is another. When it comes to teaching privates through my online courses I work closely with people. Sometimes I am privy to personal information I wish I didn't hear, but none the less, I understand that this knowledge is useful. Generally it helps me to empathize with my clients a little more. It gives me the ability to sculpt their practice to suit their needs, address their concerns/limitations/desires and in essence it provides me with the opportunity to be more powerful. More powerful in my teaching and more powerful in relating to others. The best advice I was ever given about gaining knowledge was ... be teachable. Yep, that simple! Don't assume to know, be open to learn. Even when I think I know, I try (I'm not perfect at this) to be open to the possibility that I don't know. With a clear and receptive mind I learn so much more.

L is for listslist
Lists, lists and more lists! Making a list helps you to be more organized, productive and efficient. It reduces anxiety, boosts brain power and improves your focus. Need I say anymore?! A bit like journaling, getting it out of your head and onto paper gives perspective. From this point it's easier to prioritize and give appropriate time frames. If you haven't got a list, whether it be a to-do list, a planning list or a wish list don't delay, begin today!

M is for message clarity
Message clarity is so important! Students need to know what you offer and so do you! I made lots of mistakes when I first began to market my online home yoga courses and the main reason? I wasn't clear in my message. I knew it would benefit my students and anyone who wanted to accelerate their practice, but I didn't know how to share this. I'd stumble along telling students the course would be great for them, but I didn't know what else to say! After some reflection I learnt that people don't know what's on offer unless it's communicated clearly, I first needed to get clear and then I could be clear with others.

N is for nicheniche
I really battled with the idea of a niche and honing on in a specific target market. For me yoga is all inclusive so I wanted to serve everybody, literally. In affect I was serving nobody (or hardly anyone)! Having a niche doesn't mean you can only serve that type of client, it instead means you have a specialty area. Rather than restricting this enhances your offerings enabling your ideal students to hear you above the others.

O is for offerings
When giving time, love and support to my students it can be easy for my offerings to get blurred. Having boundaries and being clear on what is provided is critical in maintaining a healthy and professional relationship. I always like to understate and over deliver. This way I feel as though my offerings exceed expectations ... everybody loves unexpected bonuses! In saying this, I've learnt what an appropriate amount of energy is to give. This has taken lots of trial and error. I find it quite natural to take on others peoples problems as though they were my own, then go out of my way to try and help them solve their problems. Two main issues with this ... me trying to be Mrs. Fix-it and me taking on board other people's stuff. I'm not a councilor, I'm not God and I definitely can't try to be. When I notice this wonderwoman hat coming into play, I know to take a step back, breath and provide the most I can within the boundary of my offering. Be clear, professional and save yourself the heart-ache of loosing yourself and giving too much.

P is for practice what you preach
For me this is a must. How can I possibly be teaching one thing, swear by it, wholeheartedly say it works, and then do something else?! For sometime I felt inauthentic because my message was my ideal, not my reality. I learnt that my students want to hear my experience - the good and the bad. The more honest and open I am with them, the more real and accessible I become. This is where practicing what I preach and living what I teach, unifies. I feel good within myself and my students know it's real.

Q is for qualityqual
I want my students to rave about the Empower with Home Yoga Course! I want them to tell their friends, their family, the guy next door ... everybody, what a great program it is and the profound difference it has made in their life. For this to happen the standard and quality of my courses needs to be high, really high. My offerings need to dazzle my clients, to give them what they paid for at a degree of excellence and to satisfy their needs. To reach this level I've needed to iron out any kinks, address issues as soon as they arise, be approachable and actionable and most of all, ask for feedback and invite my students to give their suggestions on ways the program can be improved. I clearly state that I want my courses to be the best they can possible be and encourage/reward any input others have. The result has been delightful. The quality of my offerings increase and I hear over and over again the profound results my students receive from taking the course.

R is for respond
Respond rather than react. This can be tough especially if you're on the other side of the world leading a retreat, people are trying to buy your course online and your website goes down! Stuff like this happens! Action needs to take place quickly but when we act in that state of emotion and impulse, things are bound to go wrong. Simply using our practices - taking a breath, pausing and blending logic with emotion, we can mindfully take action and solve problems in a calm and effective way. As with everything, we get good at what we practice, practice responding!

S is for summitprofile
Earlier this year I ran my first 'Home Yoga Summit!' My list build went from 200 to over 1,000. It was an amazing offering to give to my students and the world. I learnt so much about myself, overcame many fears and broke through lots of barriers. The experience 'priceless!' Can't wait to launch the next one later this year.

T is for time management
Yoga offers some great insights and reminders to help us with time management.
* Mono-task - when confronted with a large to-do list, we tend to ‘multi-task’ – taking on more than one activity at the same time. Just like in balancing poses we need to stay focused on standing on one leg, to finish and complete the tasks at hand we also need to stay focused on one thing at a time.
* Satya - When we set goals, we need to keep the value of “satya” (truthfulness) in mind and only strive for achievable, realistic goals. By being truthful to ourselves and to others, we can stay stress-free and time efficient.
* Discipline - It can take a LOT of discipline to establish and maintain a daily home yoga practice. It also takes a bit of structure. In the times I’ve been the most successful at accomplishing my tasks, I’ve done it by being structured and disciplined in my work. The mind will kick up a storm but regardless, just like my practice, I do what's in front of me and allow the thoughts to go on flowing.
*Ahimsa - We need to recognize that by striving to ‘over-achieve’, we are actually hurting ourselves, both physically and emotionally. By keeping the value of “ahimsa” (no harm) in mind, we can prevent physical injury and emotional stress.
* Take breaks - by taking breaks we allow time and space for answers to come and the mind to rest, this encourages greater productivity and efficiency.

U is for urgency
I learnt this lesson from the renown book “habits of highly effective people.” Simply using the below table to work out which task are actually worth my time and energy makes things super easy to prioritise!

urgency

V is for value
We will only buy something if it is valuable to us. I'll repeat - we only buy something if it is valuable to us. It needs to fill a desire, need or problem, to give us something worth having. Understanding this has been of great help in marketing my online home yoga courses. I have filled them with value and communicated the value. The result … more people seeing the benefits a home yoga practice. More people wanting a home yoga practice. More people doing the courses and enhancing their lives!

W is for websiteweb
By golly, this is a never ending project. Super rewarding but never ending! Having a very small budget to begin with, I virtually built my website myself. My number one tip here is to have a clear direction. When establishing my website I didn't know what I wanted it to do, I just knew I had to get one and to make it great! Literally thousands of hours spent on pages of content that today I am culling and deleting. I've learnt that having hundreds of asana, pranayama and meditation techniques listed on my website is great and provides lots of value but to make that value consistent and meaningful my website needs to collect names and email addresses for my database.

X is for xenophobia
Xenophobia is the fear of strangers or their culture. When working with private students from all around the world I come across many different backgrounds, beliefs and understandings. Sometimes I notice resistance or uncertainty in myself when a student goes against my views or says something that doesn't feel right for me. The fear that arises often comes from a place of protection and provides me with an opportunity to explore what is really under the surface. Using the yogic tools, our vivek (discrimination) and jnana (knowledge), we can decipher if working with a particular student is of value to us or not. It can be a difficult thing to see, especially if you have a similar desire to mine, 'to empower everyone with their own home yoga practice!' I've learnt that there are just some people that aren't compatible for me to work with, to honor myself and them, I let them know.

Y is for you timetake-time-for-you
This is crucial! I wholeheartedly mean this. So many times I've thought I was super woman and could manage my schedule and whatever was given my way. I didn't need 8 hours sleep, a day off, a night out or to sit down to eat. The Truth … in order to live a life worth living, I DO! I am not a robot, I can't sustainably go, go, go. Even when I kid myself into thinking I can just do one more thing, the people around me suffer. Today, even though it is sometimes soooo hard, I take time for me. More often than not I cherish this time. Over and over again I see that I'm much more productive and can respond rather than react!

Z is for zip
Get some more zip in your practice, your teaching and your life is a must! That vigor, oomph, pep and sparkle ... it's contagious. As we know like attracts like so just by giving some gusto and pizzazz you'll' be generating more and more. Getting zip, zest and zing in my teachings and life makes me feel more drive, spirit and prana, the result ... Ananda - BLISS!

 

Make sure you check out yesterday's Yoga Teacher Blog Tour--by Wendy Weymann 5 ways daily meditation practice can help you be an awesome private yoga instructor: And check out Kendall Covitz's blog here for tomorrow's #yogateachertour goodness!