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Yoga Teacher Prep provides this to help you prepare for yoga teacher training.

4 Ways Yoga Teachers Can Replenish their Energy

Here’s a little truth bomb for you. You have a soul (whether you are aware of it or not). And, it’s patiently waiting for you to acknowledge its presence so that it can help support you in living your best life.

However, your soul also needs a little TLC from you too.

As a yoga teacher, you are a natural healer. You stand in front of a class of people and share your knowledge, energy, and time with a crowd of people who look to you for strength, encouragement, and inspiration.

Many students show up to practice when they need solace and support during life’s challenges. It’s a safe and comforting place to be; knowing that space is being held for them no matter what their current situation.

As the teacher, you set the tone for the rest of the class. Either verbally or non-verbally, you create a space for the students to feel safe and welcome.

As a result of being the main source of comfort and healing to a large group of people, over time you may notice you start to feel drained, depleted or even exhausted. You may start to avoid interacting with people in social situations when you’re not teaching a class. Unfortunately, it is an all too common experience for yoga teachers.

When this happens, you may turn to rest, eating a cleaner diet, and spending more time on your mat.  And those are all great things to do for your body but have you considered tending to the needs of your soul?

Your soul is made of pure energy. When you’re in the position of teacher and you’re giving your energy to dozens (or even hundreds) of people each week, it’s vital to replenish your energy and make your needs a priority.

By developing a daily spiritual practice, it’s possible to refuel in a way that is not dependent on anything outside of yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a ‘spiritual person’ or not.

You do not need to be gifted, sensitive, or have a certain personality type in order to learn how to develop a relationship with your soul.

You can start today by setting time aside for yourself to spend a few minutes in stillness. If meditation is something that doesn’t regularly make the top of your priority list then it’s even more vital that you schedule it in today.

By spending time in stillness, you’re taking a break from sending your energy outside of yourself and instead, focusing inward and making your needs a priority. Going inward on a daily basis is of the utmost importance for your soul’s health.

You may associate meditation with sitting on your mat or laying down in savasana however, there are many different ways to meditate.

Here are 4 ways to deepen your meditation practice:

Pick Your Chair Wisely

Try spending your meditation practice sitting in an upright chair with your feet flat on the floor. Either a kitchen chair, an office chair, or sitting upright on a supportive couch works well. It’s important to have your feet flat on the floor so that you can ground your energy and encourage the energy of the Earth to come up through your feet chakras and cleanse your system.

Posture Matters

It’s also important to have your back straight so that your chakras and energy system are in alignment, enabling energy to move freely. When I sit on my mat for too long, whether I’m using a block or bolster, I still find I get a sore lower back and it starts to affect my posture. If you don’t have proper posture, it’s like putting a kink in the hose of your energy system.

Begin by Setting a Grounding

You’ll want to set up an energetic grounding to release any unwanted negative or foreign energy from your system. Setting a grounding involves sending a branch of your energy down from your tailbone and into the Earth to ground you for the day; similar to how a tree sets roots into the ground. Once you’ve set your grounding you can release any unwanted energy out of your system, down and out your grounding.

Use Visualizations

If you have difficulty sitting still for too long or find that your thoughts just start running away from you, there are many tools and tricks to help you tune inward. One of my favorites is to use a guided visualization style of meditation. Use an audio recording of someone walking you through exactly what to focus on for the entirety of the meditation.

As a yoga teacher, it’s not easy being ‘on’ all of the time. By implementing a daily spiritual practice that grounds you and cleanses your energy system, you can reset how you’re feeling for the day and show up as your best self on and off the mat.

Tracey Gazel specializes in helping yoga teachers deepen their meditation practice so that they can develop a relationship with their soul, get in touch with their spiritual side, and have a massive impact on and off the mat. She shares lots of fun tools to strengthen your intuition, set energetic boundaries, and cleanse your energy system. Tracey’s mission is to spread the power of living a soul-led life and she offers a free online workshop to show you how you can begin developing a relationship with your soul.

Thanks for the insight, Tracey! Connect with Tracey through her website: https://reawakenyoursoul.com/

If you’d like to be a guest contributor, please check out our guidelines. We look forward to hearing from you.

The post How to Deepen Your Meditation Practice & Care for Your Soul appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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A Q&A with Yoga Teacher Training Instructor, Crystal Gray

To this day, the most common question we get is some form of, “Am I ready for yoga teacher training?”

Or, “How will I know if I’m ready for YTT?” The follow-up questions have to do with picking the right yoga teacher program for them and then preparing for it. And these days, there are questions about whether an online yoga teacher training is worth doing.

In our epic quest to help you navigate the decisions around yoga teacher training, we sat down with YTT leader, Crystal Gray of the Yoga Goddess Academy and asked her a few questions.

In your opinion, what is the number one thing students should do to prepare for yoga teacher training?

The main things that a student should do to prepare for a yoga teacher training are:

  1. Start a daily asana practice (even just ten minutes counts!) – practice tuning into your body and what you really need that day. It can vary from day to day!
  2. Start a daily meditation practice – this one can be harder for students that have only really focused on the physical practice but it’s SO important. Meditation helps to release anxiety, tension, overwhelm, stress and many other negative outcomes of our daily life. Asana does too but mediation takes it to a whole other level.
  3. Get on the phone with the lead teacher trainers of the programs you are most interested in. YTT’s are NOT one size fits all so you need to know what the main teachings are in each training as they all vary so much depending on what the lead trainer deems important.
  4. Get involved in their communities – you want to see what kind of tribe they foster. Do you resonate with their teachings and with the other people in their community? This is a big decision and you want to be able to be a part of their community after finishing the program so you have continued support.
Who should take YTT?

In my experience leading yoga teacher trainings, anyone can take a YTT if they are willing to do the work. It’s a big commitment, not only to the teachings but to doing the inner work that always comes up during a YTT. Part of learning how to teach is learning how to deal with what yoga can really stir up in you and then the benefits of what comes from a committed practice.

You don’t need to be able to do handstand or splits or any other advanced pose.

You don’t need to be in peak physical condition.

You don’t need to be thin.

You just have to have a desire to deepen your own personal practice, to grow as a person or to help others feel better through the power of yoga. That’s all.

What are the benefits of taking an online YTT?

I started adding an online YTT to my offerings because I see so many teachers go through programs that are in-person and they didn’t learn what they needed to be confident, proficient yoga teachers. I have also written a book (Goddesses Fart Too: A modern guide to spiritual enlightenment for increased happiness, patience, and inner peace) and have a large online community (the Yoga Goddess Collective on Facebook) and wanted a way for my tribe to take my YTT. I’ve had people take the online version then continue on with an in-person training in Costa Rica (which I offer twice a year).

A lot of women are too busy to fit in a standard local training. An online program usually works with busy women’s schedules more easily. In my training, for example, we meet every Monday night for about 7 months on a free app called Zoom.

Another reason is that you can find a community that you TRULY resonate with – not just taking the training closest to you just because it’s convenient, then realizing you don’t like it.

Finances can be a big hindrance to those wanting to start a YTT as well. Online versions vary in price but I highly encourage you not to choose the cheapest one just because of the price. This is an investment in YOU and you should choose the one that fits with your needs most. (Refer back to the first question asked in this interview.)

People think that you can’t get the same benefits as an in-person training though on Zoom, you can easily practice teach others and you actually have to get even MORE proficient and precise with your cueing because you can’t be lazy and just go move their body into the right shape. It’s important the student learns how to do that themselves anyway.

The downside is that the Yoga Alliance doesn’t yet give registration to online YTT graduates. This may or may not be a problem for you. The Yoga Alliance is ONLY a registry. It doesn’t check to make sure programs are really doing what they say they are or that the teachers coming out of the programs are good teachers. You don’t need to be registered to teach. The main reason you might want this is if you plan to teach at a studio that requires it (if this is your plan, ask the studio and then ask why they have that rule just so you know). Otherwise, no student is going to ask you if you are registered. They just care that you know how to teach and that comes along with certification and commitment.

Thanks, Crystal.

You can find Crystal in her Facebook group Yoga Goddess Collective or online at www.yogagoddessacademy.com. May your YTT quest bring you purpose and joy. And just like Crystal says, anyone can sign up for yoga teacher training. You just have to be willing to do the work! 

And, if you want guidance in preparing for your yoga teacher training, check out our free eBook, 108 YTT Tips and our online yoga teacher prep academy

We’re proud to have Crystal as an active member of the Yoga Teacher Prep Facebook Group and love to shine a light on what our members are doing through this blog. If you’d like to share your story or have some valuable advice for yoga teachers or aspiring yoga teachers, please connect with us.

The post How to be Ready for Yoga Teacher Training appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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6 Easy Steps to Yoga Sequence Development

The process of creating yoga sequences for the classes you teach can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be!

One of the most frequent questions I get asked in yoga teacher training when it comes to sequencing is, ‘where do I start?’. There are many different methods of sequencing and truth be told, you have to find one that works for you. I’ve been teaching now for 11 years and the process for me continues to evolve. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of the process that stay the same. They look like this:

  1. Pick a theme. Don’t be afraid to get creative here. Themes could include anything! It could be a time of year, a TV show, or a body part.
  2. Pick 1-3 peak yoga postures or variations that embody this theme. Be prepared to explain why they embody this theme in your classes so that your students feel the cohesion of the practice.
  3. Pick a small collection of warm-ups that help your students prepare their bodies for the above 1-3 postures. This will help your students come deeper into the postures you’ve selected as the foundation for your class.
  4. Pick a small collection of cool-down postures to teach at the end of your practice to help balance the energy of your peak postures. These are counter-poses. For example, if your peak posture was a twist, your cool-down postures might be forward folds and backbends to balance the twisting energy.
  5. Pick the type of energy and mood (Bhava) you want to create in your practice (make sure the energy is in alignment with your theme). If you want your class to be strong, sweaty and high-energy you might inject challenging and strengthening postures between your warm-up, peak, and cool-down postures. If you want the energy to be calm and grounding, include more foundational and closer to the earth postures.
  6. Find a way to tie in your theme at the end of class. Pick a quote or a story that aligns with the theme you created. This helps the class feel more complete.

For me, these are the foundational aspects of the classes I teach but within this organization, little things change. For example, I sometimes play with how many Sun Salutations I teach in a vinyasa class. Or, I’ll have longer warm-ups some days. Sometimes, I’ll teach my peak poses closer to the end of class rather than the middle of class. So ultimately, the process is always creative and evolving (in the hopes that my students never get bored!).

Here are a few bonus DOs and DON’Ts for yoga sequencing:

Don’t be afraid to take risks with your sequences. Don’t be afraid to abandon a sequence in your class and come back to an old standby sequence you know always works. Don’t be upset if it feels like your sequence this week flops. But, most importantly, DO find ways to stay inspired because regardless of how fancy your sequence is, this is ALWAYS the key to your success .

Oh, and one more DO. Do take advantage when someone offers up a sequence for you to use as your own (or alter it to make it truly your own). We do this every month for our YTP Yoga Business Academy members. Each month, we craft a done-for-you yoga sequence which includes a theme and a cheat sheet with diagrams of the flow. Join today, cancel any time. 

The post How to Develop a Rockstar Sequence appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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3 Cheats for Crafting Yoga Sequences When You Just Can’t
As a yoga teacher, I’m sure you’ve figured out that there are many ways to develop the sequences for your yoga classes. But here’s the thing: all of the ways require effort.
 
And let’s be real, sometimes you just don’t have the time/energy/creative gumption to develop your class for Tuesday night. So how do you do it? How do you create a sequence when you just don’t feel like you can? To help you out, I’m sharing a ‘cheats’ to help you whip out a lesson plan with MINIMAL EFFORT.
 
Here are my three tips for finding inspiration to create great yoga sequences:
 
1) Take a Class
Subscribe to an online yoga platform like Gaia, or Oneoeight and take a class. Keep a journal nearby while you practice to write down the sequence and things you liked. You can always pause the class to do this. Then use the class to inspire your teachings for the day or week. Copy a few of the sequences in your class, try out a few of the cues the instructor used, borrow their idea for a theme. You can credit the instructor in the classes you’re teaching if you’re stealing the ENTIRE sequence but keep in mind that yoga has been around for hundreds of years so very few ideas/sequences are actually original and need to be credited.
 
2) Teach a Ladder Flow
A ladder flow is a style of class where you add one posture per sequence. For example, if you’re teaching a vinyasa flow class, the first flow could have Warrior One, then the next flow you could have Warrior One followed by Extended Side Angle, then the next flow might have Warrior One, Side Angle, then Goddess Pose, etc. You can teach a ladder flow for an entire hour and only have to incorporate 10 poses. The repetition can help students get deeper into their postures and is easy to remember as an instructor!
 
3) Be Spontaneous
At the beginning of your class, ask your students what they want. Yes, this means showing up to your class without a plan so this might not suit those of you who can’t fly by the seat of your stretchy pants. But allowing your students to provide requests shows them that you care about what they want. I’ll often ask for students to make requests at the beginning of my class and close the request line after I get three. I simply can’t remember more than three! And if when I ask for requests nobody says a word, I’ll offer up suggestions like hip stretching, shoulder opening, or a cozy inward-focussed fall practice. If you’re using this method of getting ideas for your class, be sure not to do this too often as your students will catch on and think you’re never prepared, or lazy, or unorganized. But once in a while, using your students to inspire your classes is golden.
 
Happy sequencing everyone and don’t be afraid to hit the ‘easy’ button once in a while. There is no shame in finding help for yoga class inspiration. You are a yoga-teaching god/goddess and sometimes taking the work out of class planning will give you the time you need to fill your own cup.
 
Speaking of hitting the EASY BUTTON, I share a fresh done-for-you yoga sequence every month in our Yoga Business Academy. It includes a theme, quote and downloadable cheat sheet with the whole flow laid out in a diagram. Want access? Become a YTP Yoga Business Academy member – the sequences are just one of the many benefits of investing in your career development.

The post How to Find Inspiration for Creating Yoga Sequences appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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How to Correctly Incorporate the Pelvic Floor into Your Yoga Classes

It is wonderful to see the pelvic floor (PF) gain more media attention these days! As a yoga professional, you are well positioned to address PF wellness in your classes. Unfortunately, accurate information about the PF is not always conveyed. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of practices to promote PF health? Kegel exercises? Mula bandha? If so, you may want to read on.

What are the qualities of a healthy pelvic floor?
While it is true that a healthy PF is one that is capable of being engaged and controlled voluntarily, it also needs to engage automatically in a functional, refined and coordinated way with other muscle groups. A healthy PF also needs to be extensible, be able to relax and move through its full excursion in timing with the respiratory diaphragm during the breath cycle. The PF expands, widens and descends as we inhale; and ascends into its dome-shaped position on exhalation. The amount of excursion and force that the PF produces as it moves up and down in timing with breath depends on the demands of the task. The ability of the PF to fulfill its roles in bowel, bladder, reproduction and sexual function as well as the roles it plays in breathing, core strategies, posture, hip function and dynamic balance will depend on a variety of factors. It is beyond the scope of this short blog to discuss those factors, but how we breathe, move, feel, what we think, what we eat, how we respond to and manage stress and how we relate and connect to ourselves, others and the world around us, are all factors that can influence how well the pelvic floor fulfills its roles.

Copyright Ray Long, MD Used with permission

Do you over-cue mula bandha?
PF health is not just about Kegels or mula bandha! In some cases, cueing a PF muscle contraction may interfere with its natural excursion in timing with its synergistic muscles, which is required for adequate core strategies to take place. In other cases, cueing a PF contraction may exacerbate symptoms or certain conditions for a variety of populations. That said, there is definitely a time and place to cue an isolated PF muscle engagement, but it is not within a yoga professional’s scope of practice to evaluate the state of the PF in order to know if practicing PF contractions are appropriate for each student; nor can the yoga professional accurately assess if the PF contraction is being performed correctly without actually manually palpating or using electrodiagnostic measuring devices, which are techniques used by licensed health care providers such as pelvic floor physiotherapists. Additionally, keep in mind that historically, it appears that engaging and sustaining mula bandha was an energetic practice used to seal, direct and contain the prana in the body during specific pranayama meditation practices along with breath retention, and not necessarily meant to be sustained during movement. Many yogis believe that the current practice of bandhas during movement in modern day yoga classes may have been somewhat ‘lost in translation.’

Incorporating the PF into your yoga classes:
So what can you do as a yoga professional to address PF health and wellness in your classes?
There are lots of options! We can start by cueing the BREATH. There are numerous practices that can enhance PF awareness, relaxation, excursion and facilitation of PF engagement that involves cueing the breath. PF awareness practices may include feedback techniques and/or visualization of the rhythm of the PF with the breath cycle in a variety of positions such as extended child’s pose, reclined cobbler’s, happy baby and cat/cow while changing the position of the hips and pelvis to provide different sensations to the PF.

PF relaxation may be promoted in certain poses where the hips and pelvis are positioned to allow the PF to gently be in an expanded and relaxed position. This may include extended child’s pose, garland, cow position or happy baby. But keep in mind that the state of the person’s nervous system contributes to muscle tension. So, just because a pose is known to relax and ‘stretch’ a muscle, does not mean it will in everyone. The factors that contribute to whether or not a muscle relaxes are complex! As yoga professionals, you have access to many practices to help your students feel safe and to calm the nervous system which will help relax muscle tension throughout the body, including the PF. You can offer calming breathing practices, mantras, chants, mudras, meditations, supported restorative positions, slow rhythmical movements or use language that can help calm the systems.

There are ways you can facilitate the full excursion and engagement of the pelvic floor muscles in a functional way, without cueing a PF contraction specifically. Research shows that the respiratory diaphragm and PF muscles engage in a sophisticated, automatic, and coordinated way. Focusing on breathing methods that enhance respiratory diaphragm excursion and rib expansion can potentially facilitate PFM engagement. Research also suggests that activation of certain hip musculature plays a role in the functional integration of PF muscle engagement. Therefore, you can use this information to facilitate PFM engagement by choosing poses and movements that are associated with engaging hip muscles such as adductors, gluteus maximus, and the deep hip rotators, while at the same time coordinating these movements with the expansive breath, visualization, and awareness of the natural PF rhythm.

I wrote about this in more detail in 9 Ways to Help Yoga Students Engage Their Pelvic Floors.

I hope this provides some new insights and gets you thinking about how you can incorporate PF wellness into your classes in safe and effective ways. For more resources that expand further on this topic, both the theory and practices, see the references below!

Shelly Prosko, PT, PYT, CPI, C-IAYT is a physiotherapist and yoga therapist dedicated to bridging the gap between modern healthcare and yoga. With over 20 years of practice in physiotherapy rehabilitation and yoga she is also a pioneer of PhysioYoga. Through this, she discovered the importance of pelvic floor health. You can learn more about it through her online practice videos (Yoga Teacher Prep members get 10% off the full package using the promo code: ClientDiscount10), or take her online course PhysioYoga and the Pelvic Floor. For more info and resources: Pelvic Floor Galore! Resources for Creating Pelvic Floor Health Through Yoga.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Shelly for sharing her amazing knowledge and insights. If you’d like to share your yoga teacher knowledge or personal journey with the Yoga Teacher Prep community, please see our Contributor Guidelines.

Feature Image: Copyright Ray Long, MD Used with permission

More References:

  1. Prosko S. Optimizing Pelvic Floor Health Through Yoga Therapy. International Association of Yoga Therapists. Yoga Therapy Today Winter Issue. 2016; 32-34, 48.
  2. Anderson B. Over-cueing the pelvic floor. Cue the Breath! Pelvic Floor Follow Up – 2015 PMA. YouTube segment. Last accessed September 18, 2018.
  3. Kaminoff L. Bandhas in a Modern  Practice: A Historical Perspective. YouTube segment. Last accessed September 18, 2018.
  4. Hall C, Garden S. Lost in Translation: Is Mulabandha Relevant for Modern Yogis? Yoga International Online. Last accessed September 18, 2018.
  5. Prosko S. Creating Pelvic Floor Health Practices with PhysioYoga Videos. Vimeo on Demand. Prosko PhysioYoga Therapy 2016.
  6. Prosko S. Pelvic Floor Galore! Resources for Creating Pelvic Floor Health Through Yoga. 2016  Last accessed September 18, 2018.
  7. Prosko S. PhysioYoga and the Pelvic Floor. Pre-recorded Online Course. Embodia Academy 2018.

The post The Danger of Poor Pelvic Floor Cueing in Your Yoga Class appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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Most Yoga Teachers Don’t Charge Enough for Private Clients

Recently, one of our past Yoga Teacher Prep – Yoga Business program students reached out to us wondering what to charge for a private lesson. This is a very common question for yoga teachers and of course, the answer depends on many factors. This YTP business student was shocked at the private yoga class rate we suggested. I believe too many yoga teachers completely undervalue their offering.

I’m going to lay out the aspects that you should consider if you are thinking about taking on private or semi-private clients. Consider all of these things before setting your rate.

How Much do you Make Teaching a Full Class at a Studio or in a Gym?

This should be considered your base hourly rate. After all, this is what you could make if you weren’t spending your time with a private client.

Did You Sign a Contract with your Employer that Prevents you From Teaching Elsewhere?

Make sure you read your contracts carefully. Yoga is a small community and you don’t want to burn any bridges. One thing to also be aware of is whether this private client found you through the studio. You don’t want your boss thinking you’re poaching clients from them. It’s best to be upfront about these things and communicate.  

Have You Purchased Liability Insurance?

Many teachers who work only at a studio or gym aren’t required to have insurance – usually because the studio carries the insurance. Once you start teaching outside of the studio, you need your own insurance. This is going to factor into how much you charge – so be sure you know what this cost will be.

Where Would You be Teaching the Class? Your Home? Their Home? Space you Need to Rent?

If you are using your own space, consider what the cost would be to keep it clean (whether that is your time or if you have to hire someone to clean). Also, consider how it will impact the other people in the house. Will they have to be quiet (and can you count on them to be quiet) or will they have to leave the house? What if you have out of town guests? Or, if your child is sick?. Plus, you’ll want to check with your home insurance policy that it covers you if you have people coming to your home. All of this should be factored into the price.

If you will Teach in Their Space, How Long Will it Take You to Travel to that Space (and How Much Will Gas or Bus Cost)?

Travel time is often calculated at 50% of your base rate. Once again, consider that this is time you are giving to this client that you are not in the studio teaching. It’s also time you’re not practicing yourself.

Is There Anything Proprietary About Your Style?

When you offer something that the client might not be able to get anywhere else, you have a premium offering. For example, is this a prenatal class? Or, is it in another language? These are special skills that you either had to pay to acquire or practice to maintain.

What do Other Teachers (with Similar Experience Level) Charge in Your Community?

This is less of a factor, but it’s good to know whether you can be competitive. If nothing else, it will give you the confidence to charge what you’re worth.

Are you Providing any Props like Yoga Mats, Bolsters, Straps, and Blocks?

These items cost you money. They will eventually need to be replaced. And, there is value to the student because they don’t have to worry about it or spend extra money.

Are you Spending Money Marketing Your Private Offering?

Marketing your private offering might be in the future once you realize how fulfilling teaching private classes can be. But, you’ll want to consider this off the top so that you can maintain some consistency in pricing. Your first client may very well bring you your second and third! Also, consider how frequently you’ll be teaching a client. Is this a one-time thing or are they booking regular classes with you like once a week?

Now, use the answers to these questions to figure out a rate. For example, if I make $40 teaching for a yoga studio, I might charge a little more for a private class because the class will be specific to my client’s needs. I’ll ask them in advance what their intention is for the class. And if they’re working on a specific posture or have an injury, I will spend some time researching what to teach them. If they want the class at their home and they live 30 minutes away from me, that’s 1 hour of travel time to factor in that I’m not teaching. I’ll also bring mats and extra props to serve them better. So, because of all these extra elements to consider, I’m going to charge more than my usual studio rate. Instead of $40, I would potentially charge $65 if I’m a new teacher or $80 if I’ve been teaching for a while and have spent years investing in my education.

Of course, in certain situations, you will want to factor in the person’s ability to pay that rate. However, you can’t set the price based on what someone can pay because it could end up costing you money and leaving you feeling frustrated and underappreciated.

Please keep in mind that these rates are arbitrary examples and may be different in the community you’re teaching. I’ve been teaching now for 11 years in my community and charge $100-$150 depending on the situation.

My primary purpose of this blog is to ensure that as a yoga instructor, you don’t undervalue your work. It is important to band together as teachers and ensure we can make a living wage wherever we are in the world!

The post How to Set a Price for Private Yoga Classes appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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YTP Community Member, Jasmine Sara, Reflects on Starting her Career Teaching Yoga

In April 2017, I completed my Astanga Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training at Kranti Yoga in India. I settled there for my YTTC after two months of traveling, practicing and studying yoga in Hampi, Mysore, Gokarna, and Goa. I’ve always loved to travel, and have been all over the world but for one reason or another, I found myself back in my hometown this year for my very first year as a Yoga teacher. Applying everything I learned through the practice of Yoga (originating in ancient India) to revisit the place of my past has been a blessing. I’m now doing another teacher training course at home in the North of England and feel reflective about the journey so far.

Here are 5 things I learned in my first year as a Yoga teacher:

    1. I LOVE TEACHING YOGA! It fills me with joy and allows me to be fully present in the moment. I trust 100% in the practice itself and believe wholeheartedly in what it can do to help deal with trauma, physical ailments, mental health conditions, and more. Yoga has played such an integral role in my own wellbeing and healing journey. It is simply beautiful to see other people come to the mat for all their own, personal reasons and to have the honor of holding that space for others.
    2. It’s a Logistical Challenge (but it’s totally worth it). It can be difficult to make a living out of doing what you love. Financial stability can be hard to obtain for self-employed people. In order to pursue my Yoga career, I also work as a waitress in two different cafés and I teach on average about eight times a week at the moment. Plus, I run one-off workshops, help organize community events, and I sometimes volunteer as a teacher. This means that I never actually have a day off. I’m in a fortunate position in my living situation which has enabled me to put time into developing my teaching career but it’s still not as simple as just “quit your job and become a Yoga teacher”! It’s all 100% worth it, though. When I’m in class guiding people through a Yoga sequence there is literally no-where else I would rather be.
    3. Self–practice is Essential. Finding the time for self-practice has become non-negotiable ever since I first committed to daily Yoga practice in October 2016. It really can be fit into any day. Sometimes I just grab 20-minutes in an empty studio in between teaching and sometimes it’s a full hour or more at home. The type of self-practice I choose on a day to day basis changes depending on what I need in that particular moment. So, it could be Yoga Nidra or the full Ashtanga primary series. When I connect to the breath, the past slips away, thoughts of the future loosen their grip, and I am brought home to the here and now. I wouldn’t be able to teach classes without my self-practice! It both inspires my lesson planning and also keeps me well so that I can show up for my students.
    4. Yogis are Human (and just as messy as everyone else)! I used to assume that there was this magical endpoint where you suddenly are fixed; are no longer triggered by anything and have just reached this perfect place of peace. Now, I realize that we are all dealing with our own Samskaras (mental and emotional patterns that we are prone to be in a cycle of repeating over and over again) and each of us is doing our best to transform our destructive habits or patterns of behavior. Healing is not linear. What inspires me so much about the Yoga teachers I have been taught by, young and old, from all walks of life, is that they are human too. They have their own personal issues. Yet, all that messy human suffering begins to melt away when they step on the mat. They find a way to remain present, focused, and committed to the practice and the students throughout class. We are all working with different challenges and Yoga helps us navigate our way through.
    5. There’s Still So Much to Learn. I knew when I first came to Yoga 10 years ago that I would be a lifetime student. This path is one I have chosen for life and I am very aware that I am so far from really knowing anything at all, despite calling myself a ‘Yoga Teacher’! Some students ask questions that I simply don’t know the answer to. I used certain cues when beginning that I wouldn’t use now. I gave certain assists a year ago that I do very differently now. I am always learning.

This barely even scratches the surface and there is so much more to be said, I could write a whole book but for now, here is one brief blog post highlighting some of the key things I have learned a year on from doing my first YTTC. If you’re thinking of becoming a Yoga teacher then I hope it has been helpful. Namaste.

Jasmine first came to yoga ten years ago and at the start of 2017 she traveled around India practicing yoga from Hampi to Mysore before sucked into an Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow 200 hours Yoga teacher training in South Goa. She is currently teaching vinyasa flow and yin classes in Newcastle, England. She is currently furthering her studies with advanced teacher training modules with Yoga Therapies. You can connect with her through her website: Jasmine Sara Yoga.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Jasmine for sharing her insights and inspirations. If you’d like to share your yoga teacher journey with the Yoga Teacher Prep community, please see our Contributor Guidelines. Photo credit: Grace Johnson

The post What I Learned in My First Year Teaching Yoga appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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Changing Your Yoga Studio without Burning Bridges

There’s a moment in every yoga teacher’s career when a decision needs to be made…do I stay or do I go?

The Scenario:
You’ve been teaching at a studio since you became a yoga teacher but now, you’re SO ready for a change. Maybe you’re craving different studio vibes, maybe you’re breaking out on to your own, maybe you’re not getting on with your boss. Whatever the case, the act of switching your classes over from one studio or gym to another is tricky – how do you change up the location of your classes and convince your students to follow you?

This can be challenging as your students might like your classes but they may not be willing to follow you for reasons that include proximity to their work or home, price of the classes, vibe of the studio space, or simply the effort of moving to a different yoga environment. To help you navigate a studio switch, here are my top three tips for maintaining student retention, if you choose to make the move.

1) Offer your current students a deal at the new space you’re asking them to move to. Now, I know what you’re thinking – you don’t have the power to do this as you’re not the studio owner (unless you are). What so many yoga teachers don’t realize is that studio owners LOVE it when their teachers take the initiative and come up with ways to increase class sizes on their own. This helps take the burden off the studio owners’ backs! So, don’t ever be afraid to ask for permission to cut a student a deal, or even offer a welcoming gift like a yoga mat or some other studio swag like a water bottle.

2) Develop a personal relationship with your students so that they feel more like friends than clients. By creating a closer relationship with them they’ll feel more loyal to you and therefore more likely to follow you if you switch studios. this is what building a tribe is all about! To build a deeper rapport with your students, try genuinely asking how they’re doing and then listening to their answer. So, for example, if they tell you they’re feeling down because their sister is sick, you can then ask them about the health of their sister the next time they’re in class. Get to know them and really listen! This might seem like common sense but many yoga teachers don’t want to invest the effort required to build these relationships. That’s a HUGE mistake.

3) Get a website. Now many of you probably already have one but in case you don’t, now is the time. A website (preferably with your name in the URL) can help your students find you. This way, students who haven’t been to class in a while will know where to look for you when they realize you’re no longer teaching where you used to be! Be sure to list the classes you teach on your website (and their location) and update it whenever your schedule changes. If you’re stubborn and refuse to develop a website, then at least be sure to have a Facebook page dedicated to your yoga classes (and keep it up to date!).

Whether you make the decision to switch studios or not, may your classes always be full, your students be happy, and your career fulfilling!

Not sure if you should be leaving your yoga studio? It might be time to get clear on your yoga teaching goals and figure out how to manifest your path forward. The Yoga Teacher Prep Business Academy guides you through determining your purpose as a teacher right through to building a fulfilling and balanced yoga teaching career with integrity. 

The post How to Keep Your Yoga Students When You Leave a Studio appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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Yoga Teacher, Janette Parent Shares How She Handled a Students Spacial Attachment

I teach at a gym, where most people come to yoga as a physical practice. I make a concerted effort to let people explore their yoga journey without pressure and too many rules. I have a casual approach. I mostly use the English names of the poses, we don’t get too twisty and we don’t chant. I’ve slowly introduced the more spiritual side of yoga, sharing what I’ve learned as my own practice grows. Not too long ago, I was once a member of the class, sitting alongside these ladies on my own journey. Suddenly, I had the opportunity to step forward and learn to lead them in the sequences. They were with me through the awkward, nervous times where I stumbled and stammered. We encouraged and supported each other as we all grew and progressed.

I was saddened when I recently heard that one of my yoga students quit coming to class because a new classmate “took her spot” on the floor. We don’t have assigned spaces, which I point out in class regularly. Nonetheless, human nature causes some people to get into the same area of the room three times a week. While I acknowledge that there are comfort and ceremony to a consistent yoga practice, I suspected that ego had taken over.

At first, I wanted to approach her and see if it was true. She and I had grown close, and I valued her friendship. I did send her a text, checking in on her. I didn’t even mention the rumor. I genuinely wanted to know how she was. She’d been traveling and life was getting complex with family commitments. Believe me when I say that I understand life’s detours involving family commitments. But, that’s another topic…I digress.

I reached out to Yoga Teacher Prep’s Facebook Group with a plea to help me find a way to approach this situation.  The online group offered up some wonderful insight which helped me ponder the possible reasons someone would need to be in the same location for each class. They may like to be close to a wall to use it for support (due to an injury, poor balance or vertigo). Some people may prefer to be close to the front of the class, so they can hear the instructor. While some people may be self-conscious about modifications and not want to be a distraction in the front of the class. Then some people are simply embarrassed, nervous, or uncomfortable and want to find an inconspicuous place to quietly practice.

With the help of the online group, I also contemplated how to approach the class. After all, if one person had an issue with their spot, it was likely others did, too. I could use it as a perfect teaching moment. Perhaps I could make everyone move to a new spot, along with asking them to embrace change or discomfort. I could playfully have them pick up their mats and walk around. When the music stops, that’s their spot for the day. I liked the suggestion of having everyone form a circle; a more subtle way of moving them into a different spot. I could use profound yoga quotes about ego, attachment or change – there’s an infinite number of philosophical quotes to select from.

In the end, I decided to not directly address the situation. I didn’t want to disturb anyone’s chi or make them feel uneasy. Yoga class should be a safe place, where the student is given the tools to grow, explore and evolve at their own pace.  We never truly know why people say and do the things they do. I believe that the issue wasn’t really about ‘her spot.’ It was just an excuse to explain her absence from class. She hasn’t returned and has since moved to be closer to her family. I did casually mention to my class that I had read a yoga thread about people being attached to their spot in class. Just like the online forum, I had a variety of responses. Very similar comments to the online group, in fact. We openly discussed the subject, laughed, and together we learned from it.

Here I am, the instructor, once again receiving valuable insight from my yoga students, in an unexpected way. This experience reminded that conflict is rarely exactly as we first perceive it. While I don’t run from conflict, I also don’t choose to rush it head on. I prefer to observe and let the dust settle, hopefully allowing me to see the bigger picture. I’d say this is especially important in a group setting such as a yoga class, where multiple people are affected.

Instead, I chose compassion. Isn’t this really my foremost responsibility as a yoga instructor? Empathy for a person struggling with life’s changes, and sensitivity for a class that probably didn’t want to play musical chairs at my whim. Sympathy, concern, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness and humanity. These are all words that come to mind when I’m in my teaching role. I believe that’s exactly what the world needs more of.

I will note, though, that I now try to move around the class more and teach facing each of the four walls, just in case anyone is getting too rigid in their spot.

Jannette Parent is a visual artist and a caregiver in a small town in Kentucky (USA). A need to relax her mind and escape her stressful life is what drew her to yoga. She first fell into teaching when her instructor took leave and someone had to take over. Now she teaches part-time at the same studio as well as at a local women’s prison. She has been a member of the Yoga Teacher Prep Facebook Group since 2017. You can connect with her there, through her Facebook pageInstagram account, or her website.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Jannette for sharing her story and for being a valuable member of our community. If you’d like to share your yoga teacher journey with us, please see our Contributor Guidelines.

Photo Credit: Jannette Parent

The post Are Your Students Suffering from ‘Saved Spot Syndrome’? appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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Why the Size and Shape of Your Body is No Big Deal

When signing up for yoga teacher training, the body type you have may dictate your actions – one way or the other.

Some aspiring yoga teachers worry that their body shape may be a hindrance because they feel like they don’t have the ‘ideal yoga shape’.  Others are motivated by the shape of their bodies. they might see YTT as an opportunity to dramatically lose weight, increase muscle mass, or improve flexibility. Or, they might see it as a way to prove that having the quintessential yoga body is not essential to rocking hardcore asanas.  Whatever the case, it’s undeniable that at some point or another the question, ‘is my body strong/skinny/fit/bendy enough?’, has crossed the mind of every would-be YTT student.

Here’s the truth: your body type is significantly less important in yoga than you think it is. In fact now, more than ever, modern social media has shown us that ANYONE can do yoga. What’s encouraging about this is that it has essentially granted permission for all types of people from all around the world to get on their mats. Suddenly, it feels as though yoga is no longer just for the skinny, pretty, white girl and this is AMAZING.

So, when you don’t fit the old-school yoga mold and perhaps don’t look like Yoga-Teacher-Barbie, you’re paving the way for your students to feel accepted in class just the way they are. When you’re not ‘perfect’, it makes you more approachable and relatable as an instructor. Students can see a little bit of themselves in you and this is inspiring.

Gone are the days of trying to keep up with the Jones’s; yoga students today want REAL. They want to feel inspired and good about themselves when they take your class rather than depressed because the goals they’re working towards seem so unattainable.

The next time uncertainty about your body starts to creep in, remember that it’s bullshit. The ‘yoga body’ is a myth. AnyBODY can do yoga, and that’s a fact. So fearlessly take your yoga training, stand in front of your class and prove to them that you were made to be a yoga teacher and inspire them to follow their dreams too.

The post Are You Afraid Your Body Shape is Wrong for Teaching Yoga? appeared first on Yoga Teacher Prep.

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