Photo by Danielle MacInnes

Tips and Tools for New Yoga Teachers

Being a new yoga teacher is simultaneously exciting and scary. It takes time to find your footing, develop your style and clarify the message you want to share with others. I recently relocated from the US to Norwich, UK, and have been working on exploring the yoga culture and establishing regular yoga classes. I have experienced ups and downs, but I have also learned a lot about myself and my yoga practice.

Below are 7 tips for anyone starting out anew, whether you are moving to a new place or trying to establish yourself as a teacher.

1. Set Goals

It is easy to sum up goal setting as a way to keep an eye on the prize, hanging like a carrot in front of your face. Generating short-term steps to achieve long-term goals is a way to create a path of action. When you start something new, you may feel a bit off, shakey or unsure. This is natural, and having clear goals can help refocus your attention. So set your goal according to the SMART acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. I relied on this framework when I first created a new class.

I developed a Specific idea to start teaching an open-level community class at the local library, with a Measurable goal of getting a minimum of 8 students per class.

I made sure this was Achievable based on my time and ability to market the class. I observed that students preferred to practice later in the day or in the evening, so I scheduled the class at 5:30 PM to keep it Relevant to the local community at a popular time. And finally, I gave myself a Time-frame for advertising the class for 3 weeks. I am happy to say that it has gone well, but hasn’t always felt certain or easy. Be kind to yourself- being in a new place is hard, and taking a step forward takes courage. And the biggest step is getting started.

2. Use Self-Affirmations

I used to think self-affirmations were hippy-dippy nonsense until I tried them. I found them to be especially helpful as I acclimated to my new home, where it was easy to feel down from the weather and socially isolated without close friends nearby.

Of course, we all tend to be self-critical at times, but self-affirmations provide an opportunity to honor yourself rather than criticize.

Simply taking a few minutes every day to remind yourself that you’re great will help you sustain challenges on your goal path, as well as foster healthy self-love. Try speaking the affirmations aloud or writing them out every morning right as you wake up. Tailor them to your needs- I enjoy using “I am” followed by qualities I hope to have that day. You may also want to try a sentence, such as “I will live this day with courage and focus.” Self-affirmations affect you by promoting kindness and self-care, as well as allowing for a shift in perspective to feel empowered and take action.

3. Connect with the Community

A huge part of moving to a new place, whether it be a physical relocation or a mental one to a new job, is putting yourself out there and becoming a part of the community. Look into Meetups or specialized groups on social media to connect with others. Invite local yoga teachers out for tea, coffee, or plan an event together. This will help you become a part of a social group, introduce yourself to others, and get to know what they have to offer.

When I moved, I immediately began to search for local yoga groups online. Once in the group, I organized a yoga get-together, which led to meeting other local teachers and even making some friends.

I got a better idea of the yoga market and strategies of other teachers. A community is also a fantastic place for support- reach out and connect!

4.Explore your Niche

Let’s face it: there are a lot of yoga teachers out there. Focusing how you want to teach is the key to finding and creating your niche in the yoga ecosystem. For example, I enjoy teaching yoga in community spaces like museums, libraries, and community areas, so when I moved, I specifically tried to develop classes in those places. This led to a class at the local library. I want my classes to be open to all levels, so I design each with multiple variations and clear cueing. I noticed that there were not many early morning yoga classes in my new area, so I focused on teaching two per week. Finding your niche simply takes some exploration to see what works for you and for students. When you’re getting started, take a look at the local yoga market, and take note of what classes are offered. Note where you could provide something new or unique, and make yourself stand out from the crowd.

I enjoy teaching yoga in community spaces like libraries (Image: @piqualibrary)

5. Make a Marketing Plan

Building a client base takes time and effort. Constructing a marketing plan can be similar to goal setting. Make a monthly plan, taking into consideration how you want to market, who you want to sell to, and how you can do it. Advertise online through Facebook and Instagram, and physically with flyers, strategically placing your ads in places where potential clients will be. Talk to local businesses, and let them know what you are up to. Ask them if they will help you advertise – a reference from a local business can go far. Don’t be shy – remember, or other people to talk about it, you have to talk about it first! Most importantly, stick to your plan and timeline – growth takes time.

6. Get your Grit

When I was in school, I used to daydream. I would often find myself focused on an inspirational poster that hung in the classroom. It had a picture of a kitten holding on to a tree branch. She was clearly struggling, but she just kept holding on. Across the top of the poster were the words “Never give up.”

Since my move, I have often felt like this kitten– barely holding on. Success requires you to find your grit– the tenacity to keep going, even when things get tough.

It often feels easier to walk away, to give up, to tear yourself down. Sometimes things suck. That’s just the way it is, but as long as you keep moving, things will move, too. I have found that not being scared of failure, but rather embracing it, is a key to learning and exercising grit to go forward. Use your affirmations, list all the ways you are awesome, talk to a good friend or a mentor and find whatever you need to do to stay on track and keep going.

7. Embrace Failures & Express Gratitude

It took me a long time to realize that failure isn’t necessarily bad. When I first started teaching here, I took an early morning slot. In my previous home of St. Charles, Missouri, this class would’ve been easy to fill as people are always looking to insert a workout into their jam-packed schedules. But I found out that in Norwich, it’s different. The cold weather makes people want to stay in bed, and there’s no cultural push to overschedule yourself. The early morning classes that worked so well in one home have been hard to fill in another. I’ve even had a few where no one turned up at all.

In the face of what looked like failure, I could’ve gotten upset, given up, or cursed my new home, but why? Instead, I turned it into an opportunity to grow.

For example, on one of the days where no one showed up, I instead took the time to shoot an online class in the space. I just wanted to do and share some yoga, so I did. When you experience failure, take a breath, remind yourself of your goals and keep going. Failure is a great teacher; we just need to learn to embrace it.

Being new is tough, but the experience can ultimately make you stronger and more resilient. Even though I still find that every day requires a step outside of my comfort zone, my new home is slowly starting to feel like my actual home. Any challenge we face tests and shapes our character.

The best advice I can give? Embrace the struggle, celebrate the joy, and enjoy the ride!

Edited by Jaimee Hoefert, the Scientist Yogini

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