Adapting Yoga Teaching to a Changing World
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | October 21, 2022
Perhaps you’ve been hearing the grumbling (or doing a little yourself) – folks don’t seem to be coming back to live yoga classes in the way we had hoped they would.
The world is changing and so is yoga teaching.
I follow the newsletters of Anthony Vennare who writes about trends in the fitness and wellness industry because I think it can be helpful for yoga professionals to understand these trends to keep our businesses alive and vibrant so we can keep helping the people who need us.
In a recent newsletter Vennare wrote that Americans are projected to spend more next year than this year on fitness and wellness service. In my mind this means that the future of yoga teaching is bright! Here are some more relevant statistics:
- The global wellness market is expected to reach $7T by 2025.
- Americans spend more than $450B annually on wellness products and services.
- A recent McKinsey report found that 50% of US consumers now say wellness is a top priority in their day-to-day lives (up from 42% in 2020).
- While products account for 70% of consumer wellness spending, services are gaining ground.
- Over the next year, 45% of people intend to spend more on services vs. 25% buying more products.
- 80% plan to maintain or increase their health and fitness spend in the next year.
- 62% say health and wellness activities are the last thing they’d cut back on.
These trends are pretty positive if you’re a yoga teacher. Nevertheless HOW do you reach people and let them know what you do if they are not showing up for classes? The answer is personally, digitally, or both.
I was out watering my lavender last month when a neighbor stopped by to chat. She’s a lovely, retired 73-year-old woman who loves to walk and garden. She said, “I really want to do yoga again, but I just can’t go back to a yoga class at the gym or a studio – they’re too crowded and I’m scared. Will you give me some private lessons?”
I said sure and squished her into my schedule for a few private sessions – we had a blast and it was convenient and easy for both of us.
Private, personalized yoga is going to become more common and more in demand – particularly because the population is aging and yoga is an incredible practice for longevity and maintaining quality of life. And, like my neighbor, there are plenty of people who are still afraid of being in groups.
Personalizing offerings is a great way to go – but digitizing them is equally important. If that sentence made you sigh, frown, or stop reading – don’t despair. The future of teaching yoga in the digital age is also bright – but I do think it’s essential to have these few key things in place in order to move forward with confidence:
An Email List – If you don’t have one yet, get started. Email lists are better than Facebook or Instagram because you, not Zuckerberg, own them. Initially, you can keep your list in Google, but once it gets a little bigger, you are going to want to go with a bulk email provider. In the past I used Constant Contact and Mail Chimp, but they are a little outdated now. Some of the newer providers are free or low cost. Here’s an article to help you compare and choose.
A Newsletter (to send to your list) – The newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your peeps – it helps them to remember that you exist and would love to teach them yoga, and it also gives you an opportunity to let them know what you are up to – but don’t use it that way primarily. The main goal of your newsletter should be to provide relevant, useful information to your list (like I hope I am doing at the moment). Consistency is key! Write them pretty much weekly. Please don’t think it needs to be some long, intensely researched opus. It doesn’t! I have a student who simply sends out photos and quotes and it works great for her!
A Zoom Account and Zoom Offerings – It’s 2022 – everyone has used and is still using it. You can offer both group and individual classes. It’s an easy way to make yourself more available to people who either live far away or who prefer an online class. I recommend the Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam camera. At just under $60, it does a fantastic, high definition job. The microphone on this camera is also amazing. I have accidentally taught plenty of classes using it, even when I’m 10 feet away (accidentally because I have a headset, but sometimes I forget to turn it on LOL!). As for headsets, If you are an Apple user, the airpods should interface just fine with your computer. If you want even better sound quality, I recommend the Bose Sound Sport, it’s got an excellent mic, it’s comfortable, and it’s super easy to use. (and if you wait till Cyber Monday – this stuff will be cheaper!). Of course some folks prefer to just use their phone rather than the computer.
A Website – Again, if you are feeling overwhelmed right now by all the things you need to do to be a digital age yoga teacher – let that stuff go! A website no longer has to be a huge, expensive endeavor, you can find someone on Upwork or Fiverr to build you a very simple website at a very reasonable fee (make sure you do your due diligence of course). Your website does not have to be a work of art, it just has to tell folks what you do and how to find you. Later, when you have some time, money and a bigger email list, you can go for it with a nicer site. (oh and please, make sure you use WordPress – not Square or Wix or any of those kinds of sites that look easy but have zero search engine optimization).
One last note here – if you are super tech averse, please know that there are plenty of people out there who are not! Pretty much all you need to do is ask any teenager.
These are the nuts and bolts of adapting to the changing world of teaching yoga. Create an email list, send interesting and helpful things in your newsletter each week, use it to remind folks of things you are doing and how they can work with you, and offer both in person and digital personalized yoga to meet the specific needs of your peeps.
This is what people want right now – personalized, accessible, and convenient access to you and your wonderful knowledge. You got this!
I’d love to hear from you if you have already taking your yoga offerings into the digital age – what is working for you?
Please check out my free ebook, Chakras: Is Everything You’ve Been Taught Wrong? to discover 4 differences between traditional and new interpretations.
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I have been asked recently to create Accessible Yoga classes that I can personalize for my students. I think it may be a way to expand my services. I video the classes and sell them at a reasonable rate. They love the personal touch.
great idea Cindy! Thank you for sharing!
This is all great information. Thank You!
you’re so welcome! I am glad that it’s helpful for you.
Thanks for this fabulous blog packed with useful information Kristine!
You’re welcome Janey, glad it was helpful!
Thanks Kristine. I practice hot yoga & have noticed (over the years) a much lower attendance rate during summer months, however when weather gets a bit colder, everyone wants to come to the studio (you have to reserve a spot to get in) for the added benefits of far infrared light (which supports stretch & is very detoxifying). Perhaps those with studios may want to add/offer far infrared light to attract the winter crowd.
Yes I’ve noticed that with most styles of yoga! January is a good month to teach, July, not as much.
Good points! Never gave consideration to a newsletter and realized this is a great idea.
Don’t forget to list your business on Google – it’s free and easy to set up. Google advertising a bit too expensive for my budget..
Good tips Paula – thank you!
I’ll be opening a new, boutique yoga space very soon. I closed my studio in June 2021 & made a tree change to a rural area. The space, within my home, will be smaller & classes will only be 6 to 8 students. I can keep it small & hopefully attract people who are looking for a more personalised yoga practice. This allows me to teach what & when I like & reduces my operational costs a huge amount. I want to offer face to face as zoom still feels too impersonal & I really value the connection with my students.
That sounds wonderful Carmel! You are offering something really useful and personalized and it’s very forward thinking
Realizing I need to emphasize that our classes range from 5-14 participants and our studio provides plenty of space and a window that opens. We added another class day & time to help with lower enrollments overall. I switched from monthly newsletters to every other month. Based on the information above, I need to rethink this. I’m going to check with my website service to see if we are WordPress and listed with Google. Thanks for this valuable info. I have renewed my lease through 2023 at a reduced rate for 6 months. Glad we have another year before reevaluating having a studio. Our participants bring us joy!
I Zoom record one class per week and email to current students interested in at home support during the week and those not able to attend at the studio. Some folks are very grateful for this being part of their 8 week series fee.
Great ideas Sharon! Your studio sounds amazing. And yes, once a week newsletter is a game changer! I hope that you shift that. Please let us know how it goes.
Sharon says she “sends” her class to students, but I find when recorded classes are too big to
What tech do you use to “compress” the file easily for your students to open?
I’m not sure but it is quite easy to create a YouTube channel or Vimeo and send folks a link to the class – make it unlisted so that it is only for them.
Excellent ideas! I’ve had a yoga website since 2000 and it’s my #1 way to advertise to and communicate with current and potential students. Important since I don’t want to go the typical social media route; that’s just not me. I may upgrade it someday but it works really well — easy to maintain and update, etc. — as is. Email list: been building that since 1998. I don’t do weekly newsletters; more like quarterly or for special announcements. And Zoom since March 2020. I’ll eventually bring back some in-person gatherings, especially for meditation instruction and gong immersions, but — during the pandemic alot of new students who could never join me in person found my classes online. I love that Zoom broke down that proximity barrier, and as long as people are interested I’ll keep teaching online.
that’s great Susan, thanks for sharing what’s working for you!
Thanks for this and the reminder to send interesting and relevant content in newsletters. I often send ‘classes are back on’ post holidays or ‘timetable change’ updates without any unique content. Useful but not very personal. I’ll up my game!
As for Squarespace having ‘zero’ SEO, that’s questionable. WordPress takes the lead but they all have their own unique SEO features and I’ve found Sq to be very effective.
That’s great Sarah and thanks for the correction on Squarespace! Glad it’s working for you!
Great info Thankyou Kristine, I have recently started back teaching in person classes, I teach small groups but really want more people to attend. I will take on your frequent newsletter tips. I also make a recording of a class every week and send it to those who can’t make class times. I find my new iPad and a tripod really do a great job, sound is good too ! Dee
that’s great Dee! I think it’s important to be creative and offer great value and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing!
Thanks a ton, Kristine. I have all that in place but need to press out from my comfort zone, get more organized and focused. Janet
Sounds like a good plan!
Ellen and I have been teaching on Zoom for two + years with just the phone for video and audio. It’s just occurred to me while reading your note, that I’m going to record one of my sessions and listen to it myself to verify that the sound quality from the microphone within the phone is sufficient, especially when I’m not directly facing that device. Endless improvent is within our consciousness.