When I first started practicing yoga, I remember thinking, “Everyone should be doing yoga!”
…a typical evangelical thought of the newly converted.
But I have to admit that I still think this 28 years later.
However, more often now I think, “More people should be in this class right now.” It’s heartbreaking to me when there are only two or three people in class—especially if the teacher is really good.
Yoga teachers are notorious for not being very good at promoting their own classes—leaving it wide open for the trendy, cool studios to pull a big sweaty, swath of the marketplace.
If you aren’t part of the latest yoga trend, don’t feel left out. There are still lots of yogis and yoginis of all shapes, sizes and ages who want what we have to offer. We just gotta find ’em!
Here are 10 no-brainer ways to build your classes…they have all worked really well for me:
1. Offer a free intro class regularly.
When we first opened Yoga Hawaii in Honolulu in 1999, we held a weekly free intro class to introduce yoga to those who were interested. This was our single source of new students over the first few years when we had absolutely no budget for advertising. You don’t have to do it every week, but at first you might want to. Then change the frequency to fit your needs.
2. Offer a cheap ($5) first class.
This offering built on the free intro class; someone attending that class could come to their first official class for only $5 bucks…such a deal! And we had a very high rate of returning students because, well, ummm…see #10.
3. “Bring a friend, get a free pass.”
This one worked famously in my classes…I had one student who brought every friend she had so she could collect her free passes. She single-handedly filled my classes in the early days, and never paid for class herself. And I loved having full classes!
4. Hand out your business card with a free class offer on the back.
Same idea but a nice touch because people will hold onto your business card and it’ll remind them to visit you.
5. Build an email list of everyone who comes to your classes.
If you’re not yet doing this, start now. Send out special promotional offers or post them on your Facebook page (don’t have a Facebook page? do it now!) This suggestion deserves its own article, so stay tuned!
6. Announce what you’ll be covering in your next class.
Be sure to set the expectation that they’ll be returning to class by announcing what you’ll cover. This forces you to plan ahead so that you can communicate with enthusiasm what’s coming up. People will start looking forward to class and that will draw them magnetically back. In this way, you are advocating for their continued practice, something that helps them, helps you and uplifts the entire planet.
7. Add a uniquely personal touch to all your classes.
One of my trademarks was to walk around after class with my “magic bag,” filled with all my favorites quotes, sayings or sutras, having students pull one for the day. People were always amazed that they got the perfect message for them. Get creative and you’ll find lots of ways to make your classes special and unique.
8. Surprise them.
Your students like to think that you’ve put energy in making their experience special, so surprise them from time to time. It could be a little treat on special occasions (like a Halloween sticker or chocolate Easter egg), or a new chime you play in class or a new pose, chant, saying or concept. It doesn’t matter, really. But keeping your classes fresh will keep you fresh and that will keep the experience alive for everyone.
9. Live your yoga.
Be an exemplary presence everywhere you go. Live your highest and best life and people will be drawn to you. This requires you to really know yourself (swadhyaya) and that you aspire to practice the eight limbs of the yogic path with your whole heart. As you build your energy through yoga and learn to direct it towards your highest truth, people will want to know what it is you’re up to…then they will follow you to class.
10. Teach your very best class.
Word of mouth is the #1 source of students for any teachers. If you’re teaching your most awesome class each and every time, students will return and they’ll tell their friends. How do you know if you’re teaching your best class? Ask for feedback, trade practice classes with another teacher, work with a mentor, put some time into learning more about teaching methodology and study the teachers you personally like. I have done all of these tips myself and have grown as a teacher. (I put all my findings in my ebook, Transform Your Yoga Teaching.)
There are more yoga teachers and yoga studios than ever before. Building your classes requires a combination of creative marketing and becoming the very best version of yourself possible. Great yoga teachers will always draw a solid class, no matter how many other teachers and yoga fads there are.
Live your yoga, believe in what you have to offer and keep honing your skills to teach your very best, most inspired, uplifting class possible. Your students will find you.
This article originally appeared in elephantjournal.com under the title “Forget Yoga. Basically, Anyone with a Business Needs to Read This.”