Finished Teacher Training - But How To Start Teaching?
Fresh out of yoga teacher training, you might be brimming with ideas and inspiration, and keen to share your new knowledge. But how do you actually start teaching?!
As you’ll have learnt during your training, you’re at the beginning of a huge journey - you’ll probably learn more in these first few years of teaching than you did in training. Don’t be daunted by that prospect. The best way to consolidate your learning and start to develop your own teaching voice is to do just that - teach! Start gently, teach as much as you can (but not so much that you burn out), and keep learning from other teachers and from the students who come to your classes.
Here are some tips to help take those first steps.
The very first thing to do is to teach a few classes to willing friends and family so that you can get a feel for it. While you might have done lots of teaching practice during your training, teaching fellow trainee-yoga teachers is very different from teaching people who’ve never done yoga before.
You could also offer free or donation-based classes in local parks or community centres. Use these classes to practise teaching, to get to know what it’s like to work with different bodies, and to get to grips with structuring classes. You can put them on your C.V. too.
Lots of new teachers would love to get jobs at yoga studios, but the reality is that it rarely works that way. Good studios look for experienced teachers with solid teaching history and references for their regular classes. But, studios have cover lists.
Get in touch with your local studios - you could email or call, or drop in for a yoga class and have a chat while you’re there. Give them your yoga C.V. (it should include your personal practice history and the details of your training as a minimum) and ask them if they have room for new teachers on their cover list. If they do, they’ll probably want to audition you first - it’s not as scary as it sounds! You’ll be asked to teach a short sample class to one or two of the studio staff.
There are also lots of Facebook groups that yoga teachers use to find cover - search for groups in your area; i.e. ‘Yoga Cover Teachers [Your Town]’.
Once you’re on a few cover lists, say yes to as many cover requests as you can. The experience will be invaluable. When you’re covering at studios where you’d like to teach regularly, don’t be afraid to ask attendees to send the studio some feedback on your class if they liked it!
While you might not get a regular slot at a studio straight away, don’t be disheartened. Teaching independent classes gives you the freedom to teach the way you want to teach, and once you’ve built up a student base, you’ll make more money from your own classes than you would from a studio class.
Be creative about where to find spaces to hire! If you buy a set of yoga mats and blocks of your own so that you’re not restricted to fully equipped studios, there are plenty of options. Try community centres, theatre rehearsal spaces, schools and church halls. You could contact art galleries, cafes and museums - often, businesses that have periods of time each day when their spaces aren’t being used will be interested in the prospect of making a little income in those hours.
Show up to teach every week, regardless of whether you have one person or fifteen people booked in. And teach well; plan your classes, observe your students, help them to develop their practice.
The biggest challenge with running independent classes is marketing them, but my best advice for this is to be consistent. Show up to teach every week, regardless of whether you have one person or fifteen people booked in. And teach well; plan your classes, observe your students, help them to develop their practice. Over time, the word will spread and people will come. And in the meantime, get the word out as much and as often as you can: posters and flyers, Facebook sponsored ads, event listing websites.
Private and Corporate Yoga
It can take some time to build up a base of corporate and private clients, but start straight away and gradually, it will happen.
The key to start finding one-to-one students, or workplaces who’d like regular classes with you, is to use your contacts. Offer your teaching to people you know; you could send an email to everyone in your address book, and ask them to forward it to anyone who they think might be interested. And if you work or have previously worked in a corporate setting, use your contacts there too.
People who ask for private classes with you will often be people who’ve come to your public classes, liked your teaching, and want to learn more from you. So get some business cards made, and leave them by the door at the end of every class you teach so they’re easy for students to grab on the way out.
Never underestimate the value of building your own mailing list. Aim to collect email addresses from everyone you teach. If you’re covering at studios, ask the studio manager if they’d mind you bringing a mailing list sign up sheet. If you’re teaching independent classes, collect email addresses either through online booking, or with a signup sheet or contact form in class. If you’re teaching or assisting one-off workshops, do the same. When someone emails you to enquire about your classes, ask them if they’d like you to add them to your mailing list; and have a button on your website and/or social media pages so that people can easily sign up.
Every email address on your list is valuable, because these are people who are already interested in your work. So when you email them to tell them about your classes, workshops or retreats, they’re much more likely to click your links and attend your offerings than the average person who picks up a flyer.