This blog post is one in a series of the #yogateachertour, a blog tour for yoga teachers who want to create a sustainable business by teaching one-on-one private yoga sessions for powerful individual work. Many awesome yoga experts are contributing to the blog tour throughout the month. Be sure to check out Kate Connell’s post on how to write a lesson plan for private lessons. And check out Cora Geroux's post tomorrow, too. Want to get all the #yogateachertour love? Use the hashtag #yogateachertour on social media to get access to all of the insights.
Several years ago when I was studying to be a yoga teacher, I travelled to India to visit my husband’s family and I had the opportunity to book a few sessions at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai. At the Krishnamacharya School they only offer private, therapeutic sessions, so my experience there became a huge influence in my style of teaching.
At my studio, The Yoga Room in Round Rock, Texas, we keep our class sizes quite small, usually not more than 12 students per class. I typically teach Gentle Yoga classes with a therapeutic influence; I check in with each student at the start of the class to get an update on how they’re doing and what they’re working with in their body, then I design the practice to provide the maximum benefit for the people in attendance.
I love this customized style of teaching and I find private lessons to be an even more customized version of my classes, where I can really dial in and create a personalized practice that will provide the maximum benefit for a single person.
So here are my 5 tips for a successful private lesson experience:
- Know your client. Take time to talk to them when they book the appointment. What are their goals for the private lesson? Find out whether they have any injuries, surgeries, illnesses, or other limitations, that you need to take into account when planning the lesson. If you teach therapeutic private sessions, consider creating a comprehensive Private Lesson Intake Form, so that you can gather their important health history information and provide maximum benefit and value in your private session.
- Communicate during the session. Encourage your client to be aware of sensations in their body. Help them improve their body awareness. Ask them share insights and provide feedback throughout the session.
- Be prepared to adjust your lesson plan. Once your client begins verbalizing how the practice feels for them, be prepared to adjust your lesson plan based on their feedback. If they say they find a particular pose very challenging, or even if YOU observe that a pose is too challenging, be prepared to offer a more gentle version as a stepping stone. At the same time, if the planned practice is too gentle, be prepared to step it up.
- Assign homework. One thing I found so beneficial at the Krishnamacharya School was that I was assigned homework after each lesson. Allow time at the end of practice (maybe while your client is in savasana) to write out a home practice for them. Let them know what benefits they will gain by doing their homework and set expectations about how many times they should do the practice and how long it should take. Set them up for success: assign just 5-7 poses so that they are most likely to actually do the practice!
- Follow up. A few days after your session, follow up with your client by email or phone. Ask how they are feeling, how their homework is going, whether they have any questions, and let them know you’re available for more private sessions to continue working toward their goals.
Private Lessons are such a wonderful opportunity to provide customized benefit to an individual person based on their own needs and goals. If you currently teach private lessons, or hope to teach privates soon, I'd love to hear your tips for success! Please post your questions or comments in the section below.
P.S. If you're a yoga teacher or yoga studio owner and this article resonates with your vision of the kind of yoga business you'd like to build and grow, please join our mailing list for our upcoming yoga business training and/or our upcoming therapeutics-based advanced yoga teacher training!