Being a yoga teacher can be very rewarding: connecting with students, making a difference, and sharing life lessons. It can also come with all sorts of doubts and force you to look at aspects of yourself. When I first started teaching, I sometimes wondered why some students didn’t return. But over the years, I’ve learned not to take this personally and have observed the things that keep students coming back.
Here are 8 of my favourites:
1. Be Your Unique Self
Be who you are. If you’re new to teaching yoga, this will develop over time as you further your studies, find out what you enjoy about teaching, as you grow and go through some hiccups and get inspired by your classes and students.
Cater to all levels (giving modifications and various options within a pose) but keep the essence of you. Perhaps you like to bring humour into your classes, or perhaps your voice is soothing and calming – expand on that.
Our motto is – the world needs your voice. To expand on that – the world needs your essence. Some people will not be drawn to your vibe but others will and those are the ones you want to teach to.
Be confident in who you are and what you offer.
2. Learn Your Students’ Names
There’s nothing sweeter than hearing our name but most importantly being seen.
Yes, it may be challenging to remember everyone’s names. Usually, if you have regulars in your class, it becomes easier to remember their name. Perhaps repeat their names a few times in your head and then repeat it back to them in a conversation. Associate something about the person to their name, so it becomes imprinted in your mind. Look at your class roster before going into the class or stay up at the front desk so you can see their names as they sign in.
3. Get to Know Your Students
Apart from just learning their names, get to know your students personally. Start small – know what their interests are, do they have kids or have a job? If your memory’s poor, then record it.
Refer to something they said previously the next time you see them so you can keep the communication going (for instance, if they tell you they were having dinner with friends, ask them how it went). Some people are great at holding conversations, if you’re not one of those people, then don’t worry. The more you get to know your regulars the more you and them will probably start to open up about things.
4. Build a Community
Some people like to come in and do their yoga and leave. Some people like to connect with others. And on another level, some of us may feel awkward, but when we get chatting with other people, we feel uplifted.
As a teacher, it’s great to introduce students to each other. You can even introduce your students to other teachers. When teachers compliment each other, it creates a beautiful vibe within a studio (never downplay a teacher or studio – it’s just not classy).
Chat with your students before and after class. Invite students to ask you questions after class.
5. Be Creative in Your Classes
There are 2 types of people – those who like routine (wanting to do the same yoga poses and sequences) and those who like different sequences and learning new poses. If you like teaching the same routine, then you’ll probably be attracted to styles and studios that want that, and so you’ll attract those students.
In most cases, people want routine but also need a little bit of creativity. Be playful and creative with your sequences. If you become stale or your energy feels low, do something to feed your soul again, so you can keep your classes fresh.
Be creative in other ways – add quotes, inspirational cards, hand out gifts, have face cloths, or add essential oils (just be careful with the scents and allergies).
6. Give Love
Have a genuine deep care for your students. Touch each person in your class in some way – this can be through a smile, an assist (verbal or physical), a genuine compliment or a quick hi.
Some Don’ts: Never talk down to your students, don’t judge them based on what they’re experiencing in yoga or life. Don’t get frustrated if they cannot understand what you’re asking them to do.
Be humble and genuinely care for them as a being.
7. Keep the Conversation Going
Make yourself available for them to ask you questions. Have boundaries though around your safety and time. Always honour and respect the student-teacher relationship.
If a regular student of yours has disappeared, then reach out to them or ask the studio to do so. Ask them if everything’s ok and if they need help in any way.
8. Pay Attention to Your Students’ Yoga Practice
Get to know your students and their practice. What positions do your students find restrictive, how can help them to modify it? If they’re feeling low in energy or going through something, how can you support them by giving them extra care?
Sometimes things come up that causes your students not to return. For instance: they move, they’re sick, or have an injury. Or perhaps they just don’t connect to your style or vibe, and that’s fine. Or maybe they move onto a new teacher based on a change in their needs.
If someone doesn’t come back, you never know if you perhaps planted a seed that later they will remember how you touched their heart.
Share any other ways you feel will keep students coming back in the comments below.