The Truth About Teaching Yoga – You Need To Stand Out
With so many yoga teacher training schools pumping out new yoga teachers literally every week, teaching yoga in today’s crowded marketplace is not easy. How do you stand out – how do you differentiate yourself from the teacher down the road, at another gym or at the same studio?
Why would people come to your Ashtanga/Restorative/Yin/Hatha class (or whatever style you teach) rather than someone else’s?
Do you believe you can teach yoga to “anyone?” (I sincerely hope not! I, for one, would be a massive disappointment to students who are looking for strong, vigorous and fast flowing styles – and I haven’t a clue how to teach the Ashtanga series!)
The reality is your students aren’t so much coming for yoga, but what they believe yoga will give them and how the class will make them feel.
And how the class makes them feel is down to one person – you. You came to yoga for a reason. What was that reason? Might there be others who had similar challenges which they hoped yoga might solve? They are more likely to connect with you. These are the students who you can most help. They are also, more than likely, the students who you would have the most fun teaching.
But, teasing out what your unique offering might be may not be easy or immediately obvious to you.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
I know a teacher who suffers with fibromyalgia – which means she regularly suffers with pain. She’s young, but it has taken its toll, and she started yoga hoping it would help. It did. She is uniquely positioned to help students who suffer with some form of health issue, which means they live with chronic pain. Vigorous ashtanga is not her style. Could she teach it? Possibly. Would her teaching resonate as much as her teaching of gentle yoga and meditation? I doubt it. Everything she teaches will be through this prism of her experience – that is where her strength lies.
The second example is me.
I am no spring chicken! I am almost 66 as I write this – and I freely admit having a sense of dread and disbelief that I am only 4 years to 70 – which seems scarily ancient! I have lost loved ones who not only grew older – but sicker. I have friends of similar age who are plagued by the common diseases of old age. And this has given me a deep-seated desire to want to grow older, but not sicker. (Some souls don’t have that privilege on this planet).
I can also honestly say that, as you might expect, having been around for a while I have had my fair share of life’s ups and downs – and yoga is the one thing which has kept me sane.
The students I feel most drawn to serve are those who feel like me. Who are noticing the signs of ageing, who may be stressed because they are not only handling family, but ageing parents, who already have conditions such as diabetes, or are recovering from cancer, sciatica or back pain… the list goes on.
I want to inspire them to see they do not have to conform to the expectations of the road signs for old people – and grow shorter and hunched and use a stick! I want them to come to a class where they are not surrounded by 20-somethings who are jumping around like crickets with a teacher who makes no allowances for the fact they don’t know the moves, or they maybe can’t hear the instructions that well. I want them to see that, no matter where they’re at, yoga can help them.
I promote my classes as “Yoga over 45.” No style – no jargon – but those who read my website or my ads get a sense immediately that what I teach is either for them – or not!
These are my “tribe.” This is my “niche.” It’s like coming home. It feels comfortable. I taught 40 years ago – then stopped when career and family meant there was no time/space left in my life to teach. Whilst I did OK as a teacher then, it was pin money, and I had no success attracting students to classes outside of a gym.
Now it feels so much more fun and I’m actually far more successful in terms of attracting students because I’m so clear on who I serve.
I believe there are some students you were meant to teach.
Students who will just love your style and personality, and for whom there is a resonance and a deep sense of connection because of your unique story.
No one else can copy that. That is your niche.
Honestly? Finding your niche is probably one of the most important things you can do if you want to be a yoga teacher who stands out from the crowd and who attracts and keeps students who are fun and massively rewarding to teach.
Actions you can take:
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