As yoga teachers, one thing is a given, we need students. Without students, we can no longer fulfill our mission as teachers. When we move through teacher training, there’s often a misconception that when you graduate and start teaching, students will effortlessly flock to your classes and your yoga community will flourish with abundance.
Unfortunately, with the growing number of studios and teachers out there, it’s becoming more and more challenging for new teachers to get a foothold, uncover their yoga niche and establish a yoga community of supportive students.
That said, there are a few simple things that we can do to instantly set ourselves apart and ahead of the curve and in doing so grow our yoga community, both in-person and online.
First off, let’s clear something up. You cannot rely on your studio to do this work for you. Growing your student body is not the studio’s job, it’s yours. The studio’s job is to manage the business, schedule classes, plan events and monitor employees – they have too much on their plates to take on your marketing as well.
Take ownership of your yoga brand
That’s the first step to establishing a thriving yoga community around your teaching. Remember, the trajectory of your yoga career is 100% up to you!
Whether you’re teaching in a studio, at a gym, or hosting online classes or workshops, it’s super important to remember it’s NOT a numbers game. Whether you have 5 students or 50, you need to honor and appreciate every single one. The more you express gratitude for your current yoga community, no matter how small or big, the more you lay the foundation for exponential growth in the future.
Don’t underestimate the power of “networking”
In the yoga community, I feel like networking has gotten a bad reputation. People associate it with being sleazy or inauthentic. But, the truth is, networking is just about making connections with real people and building real relationships.
And, when it comes to building a business and growing your community, having solid business relationships is key. I can say from personal experience that some of the very best opportunities have come my way because of my professional relationships with fellow yogic entrepreneurs like speaking gigs, guest teaching opportunities, interviews, clients and more!
Never disregard the power of a personal connection.
And, one more thing before we dive into the community-building content, I want to express the importance of having an online component to your yoga business. (If you’re rolling your eyes, hang in there with me for another minute…). The reason I say that is because if you truly want to be a full-time yoga teacher, it’s essential to have multiple streams of income.
Relying solely on teaching group classes will burn you out and leave you with very little free time. Instead, I encourage you to think about creative ways to capitalize on your uniqueness (your “yoga niche”, as we’ve been talking about in my two previous posts) as a teacher and build your brand around that! Sure, it may not “look” like you thought it would teaching endless hours or public classes, but it will be endlessly more rewarding because you’ll be expressing your true self and sharing your teachings with countless more students!
So, quickly, what does a full-time yoga career look like?
It looks like teaching a handful of public classes, a few private lessons, hosting a weekend workshop every few months, sending out a weekly newsletter, running an online meditation course, selling e-books and videos, designing an online teacher training in your area of expertise, etc. Now, you can plainly see why it’s so essential to think both local AND global for your yoga brand, and why community building online is as important, if not more so, than community building in-person.
Okay, now for the fun stuff. Below, I’ve come up with a list of community building activities that’ll draw the right students to you.
First, we’ll cover some fun ways to meet the right students and business partners in-person:
- Offer a free yoga class at a nearby community center
- Speak about the benefits of yoga at your local library
- Substitute (sub) for another teacher
- Get on the sub list at another studio
- Guest teach at a teacher training
- Co-host a workshop with another (popular!) teacher
- Hand out “free class” passes to people who express an interest
- Distribute your business card
- Attend a yoga conference
- Speak at a yoga conference
- Visit local business owners that could refer your students & introduce yourself
And now for some ideas about how to network with the right people online and grow your online following:
- Set up an email opt-in on your website’s homepage
- Offer a “thank you” gift for opting in like an e-book, video or free training
- Encourage current students to forward your newsletter to others who might enjoy it
- Talk to your students via social media
- Guest post on other people’s yoga blogs (or pitch an article to Wisdom Times!)
- Offer to be interviewed on yoga podcasts
- Take part in a healthy living tele-summit
- Host a yoga speaker series and interview top yoga teachers that you admire
- Create yoga YouTube videos
- Design something share-worthy like a guided meditation, free mini-course, yoga sequence, yoga nidra recording, etc.