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yoga teaching

Why I Wrote The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga

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Why I Wrote The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga

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In 1999 Molly Fox, a prominent fitness and yoga teacher invited me to co-lead my very first yoga teacher training in Brooklyn, NY. I was a new teacher, but Molly somehow had faith in me and took me on to help lead her group. In the years that followed I met a dear student, Anne Libby, who took part in one of my  trainings.  She was well versed in business and we often mused about the sometimes flakey and unprofessional reputation of yoga teachers, and other yoga world issues.

We were trying to figure out why Anne and her fellow graduates were having such a hard time finding time slots to teach yoga.  I shared that shortly after I started teaching, I had to turn down offers – so, we wondered, why was it that in only 3 years time it had become so challenging for new teachers?

Anne astutely pointed out that this new problem was because of a dearth of yoga teachers in the city caused by the increased popularity of yoga teacher trainings.

It never occurred to me that I and countless other trainers were contributing to the overall ecology of New York yoga by effectively “birthing” new teachers into the community through our trainings.

Instinctively, I had already stopped offering large teacher trainings in favor of Immersions, and eventually began offering teacher training in much smaller groups. And yet, in that moment sitting with Anne, I knew that I needed to write a book that would help yoga teachers thrive in a crowded market and help them to take the yoga profession more seriously.

Part of writing this book was guilt, since I seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and as a result, never had a tough time finding work. But my heart broke for my students when they graduated and couldn’t make ends meet!

And even though I do not have kids of my own, the teachers I’ve trained have always been my hatch, so to speak, and therefore, like a mother, I felt responsible and protective. So I went about studying business and marketing as diligently as I had studied yoga philosophy and applied it to my own career, until one day I felt ready to share what I’d integrated with others.

With the expertise and help of my partner, Taro Smith, PhD, I shared this body of knowledge as an online course in 2010, called 90 Minutes to Change the World, which is still available today.

The course became a game changer for yoga teachers as it turned out! Our graduates have gone on to grow their classes by 42%, publish books, teach at major events, and increase their earnings dramatically.

It was the course that became the fodder for the book, and the rest is history!

If you teach yoga or are thinking about teaching yoga, we hope this book helps nourish your career, and makes it possible for you to serve and give back wholeheartedly to others through yoga.

To get a copy you can now order on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble!

Q & A about the Book

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Top 5 Tips for Marketing A Beginner Yoga Series

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Top 5 Tips for Marketing A Beginner Yoga Series

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As you may know, I recently launched a new online course: Build Your Following: How to Launch a Beginner's Yoga Series. And the success stories have been pouring in! Teachers are rocking it out with SOLD OUT Beginner's Yoga Series and waitlists. This means that even more people are getting on the mat and we are spreading the yoga love! Freaking awesome. Building a successful Beginner's Yoga Series from scratch isn't always easy which is why I created the course as a turn-key solution.

Whether you took the course or not, you still need to prepare and apply ninja marketing skills to spread the word, since new students could be anywhere and are not always easy to find if you are new to an area or live in a rural part of the world.

If you're planning a Beginner's Yoga Series and are struggling to find people out of thin air, here are my top 5 tips for marketing your series with success:

1.  Let your people know! Word of Mouth.

Announce the new series in classes (your own and other teachers). Email your current students, friends, family and everyone you know. Ask everyone to spread the word to their friends and family who are new to yoga - tell them all about the benefits of yoga and why your series will help them. Your current students are your best advocates for your teaching, but if you are new to an area, you'll have to start from scratch and do good old fashioned "networking".  Even if it means starting random conversations with the mail man!

2. Rock your social media skills!

Post regularly on your Facebook and Twitter accounts about your Beginner's Series. Don't be shy about posting every day! Remember: you might be seeing every one of your posts, but chances are, most people are only seeing a fraction of your posts. Also - be sure to reach out to other online communities in your area. Make a CTA (call to action) that specifically asks people to share, retweet and post about your series.

3.  Feature the series on your website.

Put your Beginner's Yoga Series info in a prominent place on your website, the studio's website, your Facebook Page and any other online outlet available.  And link to it, link to it, link to it!

4.  Link to your series in your email signature.

Even if you aren't emailing a prospective yogi, include a link in your email signature that promotes the course. You never know who might be your next student!

5.  Start marketing early and don't get discouraged!

Keeping a positive attitude and visualizing a yoga room filled to capacity with new beginners can make a huge impact on your outcome. Get creative, stay inspired and don't give up!

Get advice from someone who's been there!

The teachers who've taken Build Your Following: How to Launch a Beginner's Yoga Series have some great marketing tips to share, too.  Read on to hear their advice.

I hope that these ideas help you build an amazing beginner yoga series, and, ultimately, introduce more people to the benefits of yoga. The world needs you!

Here's more advice from fellow teachers like you!

KM:  Add a question to your the feedback form, what would it take to keep you coming back? Or a discount or freebie for their first punch card? Do the beginners return for another beginner series? Inquiring minds want to know!

YS:  Tried discounts but will try again (i.e. 10% if you sign up during the week following end of intro) and yes... quite a few take the intro again. This year offering 2 kinds of intros, one 4 week (4 classes), another 4 week (12+ classes :-)... hope one leads to the other.

Taro Smith:  Social interaction is the number one reason for coming back to classes yet it is the most underrated. Remembering names, having forums so students can chat with each other, asking questions of students, having them add value in some way to the class. You can also take it off the mat by having students connect with a FB professional page where you can keep dialog running.

KO:  Guerrilla marketing all the way -- I get 75% of my students by personally inviting them. Put a bunch of postcards/flyers in your purse and hand them out to everyone -- I invited the beer stock-er at my local co-op and he's now a devoted student -- loves it for remedying his back pain. Invite people to come --anyone (friend/acquaintance) who has ever expressed an interest in yoga -- send them a postcard with a handwritten note like -- I hope you will join me! Really, I grow my classes by appealing to everyone I know and it works. And, they love the personal invite. And keep inviting people -- I just perceive myself as a yoga class hostess and it is really working. My 4 classes are solidly at 10-12 people enrolled for 12 week sessions -- and growing. I am all about personal attention and people love it! I live in rural Wisconsin -- so its challenging yoga terrain. This approach is working great and 90 Minutes has helped me a lot.

KH:  How about leaving some flyers with your hairdresser? They see and speak to lots of people every day and can help spread the word....

NR:  Thanks! Hairdressers, chiropractors, acupuncturist, flower shops, colonics place, health food shops, ups store what have I missed? :-))

JI:  How about gyms (that don't offer yoga)? Dry cleaners? Local health-conscious restaurants?

LS:  Have you seen the bulletin boards in almost every STARBUCKS? There's a spot for us on those boards!

PS:  One simple way I market to teens is I list my age requirement for my adult classes as 14+ years old. I also teach Teen and Tween Yoga classes, which I market in their PTA newsletters and participate in any school-sponsored fitness event (for free with flyers in hand) to get the word out, like Family Fitness Night and I even did yoga for school volunteers before they had a planting day. I have sent constant contact emails to the athletic coaches and PE teachers at the middle and high schools in my area, and I hang flyers on any community bulletin board I can find. The most effective marketing though is through my best ambassadors... my own teenage daughters!

... And here are a few more ideas I found online:

Try a referral program, like “refer a friend” or “bring a friend to yoga class” with your current students – for Beginner Series, you could offer existing students a free class if they refer someone to your beginner series, and their friend could get a discount.

Some great ideas from http://www.ivillage.com/how-can-i-market-my-new-yoga-business/7-n-221241  include: - Volunteer to write a community newspaper column or do a local radio show - offer free workshops or talks at schools, college athletic centers, libraries, health fairs, sports expos, health food stores - Visit the athletic departments of schools and universities and let coaches know about your services.

A few more good ideas here: http://www.wikihow.com/Advertise-a-Yoga-Class such as: -Write a press release about the benefits of yoga, then send it to local television and print reporters. Follow up by calling to invite reporters to attend your class at no charge.

Have other tips to share?  Leave a comment below!

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