Teaching Private Yoga Classes to Gain Teaching Experience

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If you feel lost after training and are unsure of how to get your foot in the door to teach, you aren’t alone. You may not have thought of it, but be open-minded to teaching private yoga classes. 

Personally, I think teaching private yoga classes is a great way to gain experience and get comfortable with the idea of teaching. Rather than having several bodies to monitor and adjust, you can really cater the practice and sequence to a specific person. You, the teacher, get to use what you learned in training, and the student gets a practice that is catered to their body and needs.

However, there is an art to teaching private yoga classes. I am not the voice of authority for that, however, Francesca Cervero can claim that title! She makes her living teaching private yoga classes, and has built her business from the ground up. Are you up for the challenge of teaching private lessons? Read on to find out how you can get started to gain teaching experience.

1. Before jumping into teaching a private client, what should the instructor do first?

Get comfortable with the idea that working with a student in a one-on-one setting is incredibly intimate for both the student, and you the teacher, and that it can be surprisingly challenging. Make sure you are really grounded and centered before you walk into the room with them. 

2. What are best practices for determining where these sessions should take place so that everyone feels comfortable?

Because of the intimacy of private yoga lessons, many people naturally have questions about how best to ensure the safety and comfort for both the student and the teacher. For much of my career, I didn't have a website or a way for strangers to find out about my work, so everyone that I taught was a friend or family member of someone I was currently teaching. This made me feel super comfortable going into people's homes and offices. If it feels appropriate for you to travel to your student, that is a wonderful service to be able to offer. 

If you don't feel comfortable doing that, that's fine too. You don't have to! You can rent space from most yoga studios to see your private clients, but keep in mind you won't make as much money. A middle path option is to have your first few lessons in a public space, and then move the lessons to their home or your home if you feel comfortable with that. Now, I see most of my clients at my home studio, and after running around New York City like a chicken with my head cut off for 10 years, staying in my nice, cozy basement feels amazing!

3. How should a new instructor determine their pricing?

I want to be able to give an easy answer, but it is actually a complicated question! There are many factors that come into play when you are creating pricing and I cannot easily answer that question for everyone at the same time.

Factors that impact pricing are:

  • cost of living in your area

  • amount of training you have

  • amount of teaching experience you have

  • how busy you are

BUT what I can do is give you a formula to use when coming up with pricing!

Step One:

If you are coming up with new pricing from scratch, do as much market research as you can. Look at the price of a wide range of therapeutic, exercise, and bodywork sessions. The different modalities will vary quite a bit in price, and this is a good thing! You want to get a sense of the full price range people in your area charge for one-on-one wellness sessions.

Start by finding out the pricing in your area for:

  • private yoga sessions offered in-studio (and in-home if you can find any examples of that)

  • group yoga classes (for reference)

  • personal training sessions both in the home and at the gym (I expect this will be on the lower end of the services you are looking at)

  • private pilates sessions

  • acupuncture (this may be one of the more expensive services you’ll see)

  • chiropractic work

  • massage (both in a spa, and if you can find any numbers of bodyworkers who travel, that would be great!)

  • any other healing, therapeutic, movement, exercise, bodywork sessions you can find pricing for

Step Two:

Take that price range and find a number somewhere in the middle that takes into account these factors:

  • amount and kind of training and continuing education you have done (trainings in therapeutics, anatomy, and complementary healing modalities will often be most useful for students, and therefore quite valuable)

  • number of years teaching and number of hours taught over the course of those years

  • how busy you are (the busier you are, the more expensive your time is)

  • general cost of living in your area

So, to come up with your price, take into account the following: 

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4. Do you think they have to teach in a group setting first before becoming a private yoga instructor?

Not necessarily, but group classes are great places to find private clients! I recommend most people put their focus there when they are just out of teacher training. As a new teacher, more than anything, you just need to start teaching, so group classes are a perfect place to start! 

If you hope to meet potential private clients in your group classes, here’s a four step plan to help you out.

Step One:

Find out whether or not you signed a non-compete clause in the contracts with the studios and gyms where you teach.

  • If you didn’t sign a non-compete clause, then the places where you teach group classes are ideal places to find new private clients.
  • You don’t have to “sell” these students on yoga, nor do you have to “sell” them on yourself, because they already know, like, and trust you, and they like yoga enough to show up to a group class.
  • What you do have to do in this situation is show them the difference between private classes and group classes and help them see the value of private work.

Step Two:

Make sure your group class students know you teach private lessons

  • I mention this quite regularly, and casually, when I teach group classes (an example I use: “When I tried this exercise with a private client early this morning, he found it really helpful. Let’s see if you guys like it also!”)
  • When you make announcements for the studio, you can also announce that you have a few spots open for private lessons, and if you offer discounted intro packages you should mention that as well.

Step Three:

Promote privates when answering student questions
When students stay after class to ask a question, you can also suggest that even just one or two private lessons would be a great way to dig more deeply into their question. I usually frame the suggestion of one private session as a place to learn some modifications they can bring into their group classes. Many times one private session has turned into a long-term client.

Step Four:

Give students a taste of what a private session would feel like
Teach your group classes in a way that gives your students a taste of what all of your one-on-one attention would feel like. I learn all my students' names immediately, as well as their injuries and body issues. I give them modifications and ask them how they are doing throughout the group class, even if there are 25 people there.

5. What props should a private instructor have for every client?

I ask all my new clients to make sure they have their own mat before our first session. I bring a pair of blocks for them to borrow for their first lesson. If they want to commit, I send them a link where they can purchase their own blocks. Anything else which is useful (blankets, straps, bolsters) can usually be found, in some form, around the house. 

6. What is your favorite thing about being a private yoga instructor?

Working with yoga students in a private setting is such a joy for me. I have learned so much about yoga and the body and my own temperament by teaching in an intimate setting. I love tapping into the creative side of my brain as I try to come up with sequences, variations of poses, movement drills and sneaky dharma talks that will be meaningful and supportive for my students. 

Already teaching group classes but need tips on how to get people excited for your private sessions? We got your back!

If you are interested in learning more about teaching to private clients, there are several ways you can get in touch with Francesca. She has several resources on her website, including a virtual training and podcast to help you get started.

Questions? You know what to do, drop them below!