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It’s the new year, which means yoga classes will probably be filled to the brim with new students (or those who fell off of their practice). While this is a great problem for teachers to have, it can also be a curse. Since teachers will be giving more of their energy to students, this is the time of year when their self-care has to be at the top of the list – and it starts with gut health! Yoga studio owner and teacher, Rachel Rajput, shares how she protects herself from getting sick during this time of year and how teachers can protect themselves too.

Contributor: Rachel Rajput, Studio Owner and Yoga Teacher

During this time of year people always wonder why I never get ‘what's going around,’ and I firmly believe it's because I drink kombucha religiously. This fermented drink has so many health benefits, and every chance I get, I like to tell people (especially yoga teachers) how they can hop on the train to gut health, too.

What is kombucha?

Simply put, kombucha is a fermented drink made of black tea*, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. It is made from the same chemical reaction that creates wine, beer, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, and tons of other foods and beverages. This delightful beverage is made using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), sometimes called the 'mother’, which looks kind of like a mushroom. More on this powerful bacteria culture a bit later…

Why drink fermented tea for gut health?

We live in a world of food and drinks that are irradiated, GMO'd, sprayed with pesticides, chemicals, and everything else under the sun. We are also a society dependent on antibiotics and hand sanitizer. All of these things combine to kill off most of the bacteria that lives in our gut, even the good bacteria, the kind we need to fight off cold germs, yeast infections, and other nasties. So it's no wonder that come cold season, our poor immune systems fight a losing battle to all of the germs. Enter kombucha. This powerful beverage brings billions of these bacteria back into our bodies, which rev up our immune systems and provide us with rich probiotics that help promote healthy digestion along with other benefits. Keep in mind kombucha is a product of its own environment. This means that the bacteria that lives in your house, in your cabinet, will go into it, thus, helping to protect you from the germs in the same environment. This is a reason why making kombucha yourself boosts your immune system more than consuming store-bought fermented foods and drinks.

Getting started with gut health - purchase or obtain a SCOBY!

If I haven’t lost you yet, you may be wondering how you can jump on the bandwagon to gut health. Well, first things first - you’ll need a SCOBY to get started. You can either purchase your own, or if you have a friend who makes their own kombucha, get one from them. The best thing about a SCOBY is that it is the gift that keeps on giving. While kombucha is fermenting it is creating layers upon layers of itself. All your kombucha making friend would have to do is peel back those layers and give them away, thus spreading the love for gut health.

So if you haven’t tried it yet, now is your chance to try one of my favorite kombucha recipes. In a few weeks time you may notice yourself getting less colds and the other bugs that everyone else is getting constantly.

*For the caffeine sensitive folks: use herbal tea instead of black tea. You’ll get all the health benefits without being up all night.

Rachel Rajput (ERYT-500) is the founder and owner of Left Coast Power Yoga. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband, three-year-old daughter (with another on the way), and dog, Enzo.

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I’ll never forget the first few times I was teaching yoga – the stress was real ya’ll! I had a checklist in my head: go over the sequence once more, check the temperature and lighting in the room, be sure to greet every student and ask them questions about injuries, etc. etc.

I was nervous about teaching in general, but then, I had a pregnant student walk in. I immediately froze. Everything I learned from training in the prenatal section was nowhere to be found in my memory! Lucky for me, the student wasn’t new to practicing while pregnant, and she knew exactly what to do. But it got me thinking...I’m sure it would be helpful for new teachers to have a refresher course and a go-to cheat sheet for when this happens to them. Well, I’m now giving you both!

In this short video, prenatal yoga teacher Claudia Florian-McCaffrey, gives helpful, informative, and easy to remember tips for new yoga teachers to be aware of when it comes to teaching pregnant students. Oh, and BONUS, there’s also a cheat sheet for you to print out and keep with you so that you never get caught off guard again when it comes to teaching yoga to pregnant students.

DISCLAIMER: the video below is only a preview. To access the full video, you'll need to join The Driven Yogi Crew to gain access to the members only page.

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Teaching Yoga to Pregnant Students - YouTube
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By Keisha Courtney

Low show/no show yoga classes have happened to every new and experienced yoga teacher – it’s inevitable! While there are several factors that play into why low show/no show yoga classes happen, many of them are beyond a teacher’s control. When it happens, it is easy to jump to conclusions and start thinking people do not like your classes – or you. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it actually is the class or the instructor (not every class/instructor is for everybody), but more times than not, the two are not connected. Here are a few things to remember to cope with no show/low show yoga classes.

The time of day matters

Certain times of the day are more difficult to build a following than others. If you lead a noon class and work in a city where most people have traditional work hours, your audience is a little more limited. Just know that even though there may not be large numbers to pull from to begin with, you can still make your class successful and grow them. It will just take more strategy and time to do so.

Turning low show classes you sub into a positive EXPERIENCE

If you sub a class which typically has several students attend, but it ends up being a low show class, don’t take it personally! Many students are creatures of habit. If they don’t see their regular teacher on the schedule, they may choose to skip the class entirely. If this happens to you, this is your opportunity to shine! Instead of looking at this negatively, turn the low class numbers into a positive. Think of it this way – if you lead a great class for the students who did show up, you may see those same students in another one of your classes soon.

In the event of a no show class, use the time for yourself

If no one shows up to your class at all, use the time wisely. You could always refine the sequence you were going to teach, get your personal practice in for the day, study up on your anatomy knowledge, or even work on your class marketing. Depending on the yoga space you work at, you may be getting paid simply for showing up for the class, so take advantage of the added time.

It’s all out of your control

Early in my career I became obsessed with class numbers. One week the numbers would be high and then the next they would be so low that I figured something had to have happened to make them drop off. I would start comparing my class numbers to other teachers and analyzing what could be done to make my class numbers increase. But the truth is, there is no science to class numbers and they are completely unpredictable at times. The best thing to do is focus on your teaching skills, give students the best class you can, and try not to get yourself down in the event of a low show/no show classes.

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By Keisha Courtney

Have you been on the job hunt for awhile but can’t seem to find that first teaching opportunity? Well yogi, to be honest, it’s just difficult sometimes! Many studios require some sort of experience, and if you don’t yet have that, it’s difficult to convince people to take a chance on you. Subbing is a good way to put yourself out there, but many times your schedule has to be open and you have to be able to teach a last minute yoga class (I’m talking super last minute, like 1 hour prior to a class). Scary, I know! But by agreeing to these subbing opportunities you can set yourself apart from other subs as being reliable, and if the class goes well, those in charge of scheduling will take notice. Here are 3 things to do to be prepared to teach a last minute yoga class.

1. Fill a notebook with sequences for different class types

Power vinyasa, beginner yoga, yin/yang, 90 minute flow, etc. whatever is taught at the studios you frequent, have a sequence ready for each one of those classes. There are some teachers who can make up sequences off of the top of their heads, but if you aren’t that type of teacher you need to always be prepared. When your moment comes to prove your teaching worth you can grab your notebook and know that if all else fails, at least you have a sequence planned!

2. Have playlists ready for that last minute yoga class

If you are a teacher who likes to use music in your classes, make sure you have playlists ready to match the classes taught in your preferred studios. For example, in my phone I have a playlist for morning yoga (acoustic, calming music), an AfroPunk inspired playlist (for evening classes), a playlist with nature sounds (for yin/yang classes), and a playlist with songs that get people excited and pumped to get their workout in for the day (this is reserved for the very intense power vinyasa classes). If you have a playlist to match all of the styles taught at your preferred studios, it’s one less thing you have to be worried about and you can focus on the actual teaching when your opportunity arises to teach a last minute yoga class.

3. Have class add-ons on you at all times

Class add-ons are items that set your classes apart (aside from the teaching). For example, I use essential oils in my classes, which is something many students now know me for. If you are someone who uses add-ons, make sure they are in your purse or car just in case you have to teach a last minute yoga class.

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By Myriam Rousseau

Being a yogi, dancer, and a musician, the union between music and yoga has always been a natural and powerful one.

Music heightens my practice; it leads me to deeper breaths, fuller extensions, and a more focused gaze, all while helping my body soften and open up just a little bit more.

This is why I choose to use music while teaching, and I try to create gentle yoga playlists that will support this enriching experience. I start the music either at the beginning of the class or just after settling in. When the music begins, so does the journey of the class.

Here are 6 tips that have helped me build gentle yoga playlists that inspire my students’ journeys.

1. Discover Your Natural Arc

What natural rhythm or cycle does your class follow? Most of my classes follow the same arc as would a day: waking up, opening up, winding down, resting. I build my gentle yoga playlists around this cycle.* Once you recognize your natural arc, your playlist can become a reflection of that arc.

* If you are creating a playlist for a restorative class, keep in mind that this type of class usually has a steady rhythm throughout. Your music should too.

2. Put Imagery to Each Song

Find images or words that could relate to each song. This can inform the order of the songs in your gentle yoga playlist. For example, some pieces make me feel like the day is dawning and make me think of images of morning light and a warm haze. I will usually place these songs at the beginning of my playlist, as we awaken the body.

Other songs evoke images of rain or night skies. I prefer to place these songs at the end of my class while we’re winding down and/or finding our way to floor poses and savasana.

* Note: Imagery can also be influenced by the tempo. Slower beats are often suited for the beginning or end of a playlist, while up-tempo beats can support the middle portion of class and standing postures.

3. Have One Gentle Yoga Playlist “Go-To”

Have at least one gentle yoga playlist “go-to” for when you find yourself tight for time, or if you have to sub for someone last minute.

4. Have a Playlist Just for Savasana

I recommend having a playlist uniquely for savasana. Fill it with the songs you love.

To me, savasana is like a gift. We are giving a moment to simply be in a state of receptiveness to all that is around and within us. Music can, without a doubt, deepen the experience in this pose.

I usually prefer instrumental pieces with a neutral quality so I don’t impose a feeling on students. Music of this sort allows them to have their own experience and let whatever emerges inside of them come to the surface. That being said, I do keep a few more ‘emotional’ songs that I choose to play when it feels right. For example, I have a special connection to the piece Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt. I danced to it a few weeks before sustaining an injury that changed my life path. Many years later, I heard this song in a yoga class during savasana. It was an incredible moment which was so full of light, and tears of gratitude started streaming down my cheeks as I laid on my mat. It was a true gift.

5. Find Songs You Connected To

Finding music you feel connected to will translate into your teaching and can also inspire you during class. Don’t be shy to be unconventional. Using music you feel connected to, even if not the usual or popular yoga songs, can create magical moments in your classes. Call upon some of those pieces you enjoyed in a movie, during family moments, as a child, etc., and see how it feels to practice to them.

6. Sometimes, Don’t Use Music!

Although I prefer to use music during classes, there are times I may choose not to. Silence can fill the air like a symphony. Also, some studios have their own unique soundscape that replace music. For example, a particular street bustle or natural outside noises can end up serving as a gentle yoga playlist on their own. This is a lovely way to mix it up. Stay open and surprise yourself as a teacher.

Links to Myriam's Playlists:

Myriam's playlists are best suited for gentle flow classes, restorative, and prenatal/postnatal flow. To find out more about creating playlists more suited for power/vinyasa heavy classes, click here.

Gentle Flow (75 min)

Prenatal Flow (60 min)

Myriam Rousseau is a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. After sustaining a serious neck injury during her dancing career, Myriam naturally turned to, and fell in love with yoga. She completed her first YTT in 2010 and has been continuing her training ever since. After giving birth in 2013, she became passionate about teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga. Myriam is also a composer, artist, and blogger. You can hear her yoga music by typing in Hoam (on most music platforms), see her art on her site, and read her thoughts on motherhood and yoga on 10ThingsYogaMama.com.

 

 

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If you are like every other teacher trainee, you were probably exhausted after your teacher training. To rejuvenate you took a break from yoga (including practicing because it all was just too much!) Since recovering from your hiatus, you have been toying with the idea of hopping back on the teaching train. But, one thing is stopping you – you think you’ve forgotten everything you learned in training and you have no idea how to get back on track. Don’t worry, yogi friend. We’re here to tell you 8 ways to start teaching yoga again after a long break.

1. Start Attending Classes Consistently

If you’re serious about teaching you have to get back to your mat. Remember how your trainers told you over and over that you needed a personal practice? Well, it’s the truth. In order for you to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk...or rather, breathe through the asana, firsthand. Visit different studios in your area to get an idea of the studio vibe and to get a feel for the teachers who teach there. Once you’ve found the perfect studio for you and you’ve attend a couple of classes, be sure to introduce yourself to the instructor(s) and the studio owner to make yourself known.

2. Refresh Your Mind - Take a Workshop or Mini-Training

Once you’ve gotten all of the kinks out of your own practice and you’ve figured out the niche you want to possibly teach, attend a workshop or mini-training. Several studios offer 2–3 hour intensives for alignment, restorative, inversions, prenatal, etc. Depending where you live these intensives can range anywhere from $25–$75 or more. By doing a workshop you’ll be able to refresh your memory on what you learned in training, and even learn a thing or two more!

3. Hit the Books for Inspiration to Start Teaching Yoga

Chances are you have several books and notes from your teacher training. Put them to use! Dust off the cobwebs and revisit those documents. By reading your own notes you took during training, things may come back to you faster and this might put you back into the mindset to start teaching yoga again.

4. Ask to Assist a Yoga Teacher

Let’s jump back to #1. If you’ve kept up with going to classes and have introduced yourself to the teachers and studio owner(s), it’s time to take a chance – ask the teacher/studio owner if they would be willing to let you assist a yoga class to gain more experience. You could start out by simply offering hands-on adjustments in the class, and if that goes well, perhaps they will even let you teach a portion of the class down the line. Keep all your options open and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want...at the appropriate time of course.

5. Start Writing Out Sequences

To get used to what you’ll have to do as a teacher, start writing out different yoga sequences. Begin with a simple sequence that hits all parts of the body (hip flexors, shoulders, back, etc). Then move on to developing classes for peak poses, themed classes, and so forth. Once you have that down, pretend you are teaching a class and record yourself voicing the sequence out loud as if you were teaching to students. Once you’ve done that, play the recording back to yourself and play the role of the student. It sounds awkward (and it is!) but it actually works as a way to start teaching yoga again.

6. Teach to a Group of Yoga Teachers

There’s no quicker way to know how you are doing with your sequence, cues, and general teaching than by teaching to a group of certified, experienced yoga teachers. For one, yoga teachers have been where you are so they understand the frustration and anxiety that comes along with teaching. Secondly, everyone teaches differently, so by teaching to a group of teachers you will be able to get different feedback and take their advice as you see fit.

7. Get on a Yoga Sub List

Once you’ve assisted group classes and built relationships with studios, you are one step closer to living out your teaching dreams! There are two ways to go about this:

  • You can develop a relationship with the teacher from #1. And let him/her know you are available to sub when needed (the trick here is actually being available, sometimes at the last minute). By developing this relationship you can end up being their go-to person in a pinch.

  • You can approach studio owners and ask them the process for getting on the sub list. Most times you will need to go through a brief audition to secure your spot, but there are those unique times where they may be desperate and put your name on the list right then and there. Again, the key is making yourself available when they need you.

8. Believe in Yourself

We are all our own worst critics. Don’t fall into the trap of self-deprecation. We all start at the beginning, and yes, a lot of us fumble along the way, but that is how we learn! Envision yourself being a teacher, take the steps to make it a reality, and make it come to life!

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Contributor: Rachel Goldman, Vinyasa Yoga Teacher

I love music. Music helps me feel. It helps me express, connect, and release. So for me, the bridge between yoga and music has always been natural. Since I began teaching vinyasa yoga, my goal has always been to teach the type of classes that I, myself, would love to take. That goal has dictated my sequencing, my balance of physical rigor and emotional connection, and how I use my yoga music playlists as a metronome and a pulse that guides the arc of my classes. In my classes, I believe the music that I use helps students enter their practice, inhabit powerful shapes, and eventually, it leads them towards their final resting pose: savasana.

I know there are many yoga teachers out there for whom this relationship between music and yoga feels artificial. So, if music isn’t your thing, don’t feel the pressure to always have a yoga music playlist, or even use music at all. But for those of you who use your playlists as a way for students to move through your classes, here are five tips to help you create the perfect vinyasa yoga music playlist.

1. Understand the Arc and Energy of Your Classes

It's important to understand that a yoga music playlist that works for one teacher will likely not work for another teacher, even if both teachers are teaching the same type of class. This is the beauty of teaching yoga: we all teach classes differently. And for that reason, before you go about selecting music for your playlist, or simply start teaching to another teacher’s playlist, it’s important to pause and really understand your own classes.

What is the arc of your class? Are your classes slower? Do you create high-energy, faster paced classes? Before creating your playlist think about the goal for your class and the different sections in your sequence. Once you understand your classes you can begin to consider what music will help you meet these goals.

2. Creating Your Yoga Music Playlist

Different teachers use different applications to create their playlists. I have found buying a Spotify account, which removes advertisements and allows you to create and structure playlists, works best.* From my own experience, I’ve found that I use slower, more gentle songs for the first 2-4 songs and the last 2-4 songs of practice. The middle of my yoga music playlist is based on how I think the music will help my students move through the standing sequences. When choosing songs for your playlist consider what songs you enjoy practicing standing sequences to in your personal practice. In other classes you've taken, what songs have you enjoyed flowing to?  

3. Create a Safe Space with the Music

In order for you to teach to your greatest ability, it’s important to choose music that you feel comfortable listening to. Don't choose music that works for another teacher or that has been suggested to you by your students, unless it also speaks to you. If you include music that makes you uncomfortable or that you don't vibe with, you will be incredibly distracted while teaching. Your playlist must make you feel safe and excited to teach your classes.

Similarly, your music is part of what creates the environment for your students. To make sure they feel safe and included in your classes ask yourself: could the language in this music drive people away or distract them from their practice? Would it be best to find the edited version of some songs in case some students are sensitive to certain language? Is the song you like a good fit for the type of class you are teaching?

Remember, people aren't always going to like the music you choose, just like they aren't always going to like the sequences you create. But if you choose music that you connect with and are comfortable with, people who enjoy your classes will gravitate to you, and people who don't enjoy it will find another class that speaks to them.

4. Practice to Your Playlist First!

I always try to create a yoga music playlist with enough time to practice to it myself before I teach to it. There are many songs that seem good in theory, but once I am on my mat I realize they can actually be pretty irritating to practice to. It’s better to realize this before your class rather than during it. Practicing or spending time with your playlists on the mat is really the only way to ask yourself all of the above questions and process the playlist in its entirety. Listen to your intuition: if a song makes you uncomfortable or feels off while you are practicing, it's likely going to make you feel that way when you are teaching to it, too.

5. Music and Savasana

There is obviously no right way to craft your savasana, but it should be done with intention. The purpose of a yoga class is to help people move, feel, and breathe enough so that they can relax and renew. With that in mind, it's important to think about how music will allow you to create this space for people. Is silence actually the best option for savasana? Do you settle your students into savasana and then start one final song for them? Do you allow the playlist simply to keep playing and have several songs create savasana for your students? Whichever you decide, make it a choice and not just something that happens by default.

As you think about these questions, think back to some of the best savasanas you’ve had in classes and think about how music was used to help you release and conclude your practice. When it comes to selecting songs for savasana, I'm not sure there is a specific recipe for success: for example, one of the best savasanas I ever had was actually to Beyonce's 'Sorry'! Instead, I'd think about what tone you've set in your class and how your class has led up to this release. Is a song you've chosen going to be distracting to the emotional release you've spent all this time working towards? If so, its probably not a good choice to use it, even if it worked for somebody else.
 

* If you are using paid streaming services, be sure to keep track of your bill so you can write the expense off on your taxes! As a yoga teacher, this expense is part of your job. For further details on tax write offs, requirements, and restrictions, be sure to contact your tax professional.

Rachel's Favorite Playlists

Not sure how to get started? Click the buttons below to be taken to Rachel's sample playlists for different types of vinyasa classes.

Power Vinyasa Vinyasa Flow Additional Tips:
  • Create a playlist that is approximately five minutes shorter than the class time. This allows for silence at the beginning and end of class.

  • To help you create playlists faster, have a playlist that you simple add songs to. From there you can easily wade through the songs and mark favorites to help you come up with a music playlist that works for your classes.

  • If you are subbing or are new to a class, I think it is definitely important to create your playlist with a bit more caution. Remember, you are stepping into a new space and you want to see what students are used to, comfortable with, and excited by.

Rachel Goldman is a yoga teacher based in Oakland, CA. She believes the purpose of yoga is simply to feel better. She teaches creative, dynamic vinyasa classes at Hot Spot Yoga and Flying Studios.

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There’s something you need to face as a yoga teacher. You ready? At some point in your career, there will be a student who gets injured in one of your classes. There, I said it. The truth is, even if you call out the proper way to do a pose and ease students safely into that pose, you could still be held liable for student injuries in your classes. And, did you know that some of these injuries may not have anything to do with the actual asana, but instead, a trip or a fall? Needless to say, thinking about all of this is scary, but it is necessary for it to be on your radar if you want to go teach yoga.

To make these ideas a little less scary, I talked with Dr. Matthew Taylor, a certified yoga therapist and expert witness in yoga safety and injuries (yes, that’s a real thing!), about yoga injuries & teacher liability, and how teachers can protect themselves.

1. Once becoming certified, what is the first thing a teacher should do before they start to look for work?

Find a mentor or get affiliated with an experienced yoga community. Trying to teach without a community for feedback and consultation is a recipe for stagnation and catastrophe. We're all fallible and need additional training and development beyond basic certification. I've been doing this for 20 years and I still have to study/learn/read for many hours each year – and that's with a Masters of Physical Therapy background!

2. Why do yoga teachers need insurance? How do they know which one is right for them?

In the United States, we're a litigious society. Yoga is an activity that by its nature has some risk for injury. In our society, there's a tendency to determine fault when someone is injured. Our justice system is there to provide retribution and/or recovery of loss if necessary. The way we handle that liability/exposure is through insurance. It is relatively inexpensive and protects your personal assets. As far as the specific insurance and how to best protect yourself legally, I’d consult with an insurance salesperson or lawyer.

3. You’re known as a yoga injury expert witness. Can you give examples of the types of cases you have been involved in where the yoga teacher could have avoided the incident?

All of the cases I've been retained for have been needless injuries that could easily have been prevented and not led to legal action if common sense and proper risk management had been employed. I can't disclose specifics, but every single case involved unsafe practice management without oversight, no safety policies or training, and terrible management by the teacher/facility in handling the plaintiff's complaint of injury. For example, doing crow pose on a wood floor while sweating (in an advertised candlelight gentle class), or modified shoulder stand when the student was two months post hernia repair.

4. What about a case example where the teacher did what he/she could to avoid an incident, but he/she was still held liable?

If a teacher is practicing within the standards of the yoga industry and did what he/she could to avoid an incident, and those precautions matched what anyone in the industry would do (and he/she did nothing negligent or illegal), then typically there would be no justification to sue beyond recovery of losses – which is what insurance companies cover. Slips, trips, and falls are part of the business and are covered by policies. The severity of the injury can drive cases, and most yoga injuries are not life or limb threatening, or don’t generate high levels of disability.

5. On your website you have this phrase: "We must work together to make ahimsa the rule, not the exception, in yoga." How can teachers make sure they are more aware of ahimsa while teaching?

As our first yama, ahimsa should be foremost on our minds as teachers. Basically, ignorance isn't bliss. We need to know who we are teaching, what their capacities are, and any vulnerabilities/risk factors that exist. By "exception" I mean studios should train on safety, have policies and procedures in place to reduce risk, and have a plan of action when an incident occurs. Generating a practice culture of non-harming does take time, but it will pay for itself. The clientele sees the care and concern that goes into the entire operation, and that matters because it's these clients who will refer others. In addition, our clients continue to get more frail and vulnerable, especially as the health benefits associated with yoga become more widely known. Those who can offer a smart, safe place to learn yoga will get customers for life.  

For a checklist of ways teachers and studio owners can make sure they are prepared in the event of an injury, click the button below.

GET CHECKLIST

Dr. Matthew Taylor PT, PhD, C-IAYT

Dr. Taylor leads training programs and creates resources to incorporate smart, safe yoga for the international yoga community. Smart Safe Yoga fosters intelligent, creative and mindful sources of information and tools for yoga teachers, students, yoga therapists and conventional medical professionals who want to incorporate yoga principles into their practices and studios. His leadership in the field of yoga safety and science has made him an expert in yoga safety and injuries. Personally, he can attribute yoga to both changing his life and easing chronic back pain. His new book will be released in the 2nd quarter 2018 titled Teaching from the Wisdom of Pain: Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response.

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Hey blogosphere! I’m Keisha Courtney. A yogi of seven years who decided to take the plunge and commit to the time consuming journey of going through yoga teacher training to become a new yoga teacher.

I wish I could tell you I did teacher training because “I had a calling,” or “I wanted to deepen my own practice” (no shade to those who do it for that reason, it just wasn’t the case for me). In reality, I had a wild idea to combine two of my loves: yoga and pole dancing (more on that later….maybe). I may still follow through on the original plan, but after completing my training, I realized that I truly wanted to become a yoga teacher. 

When I graduated from training, I immediately went to Google to find advice for what I needed to do next. Surprise! There was very little information out there. So, in an effort to help educate myself, and my fellow new yoga teachers on the process of landing that first paid yoga gig, I decided to start this blog.

I hope to answer all of the burning questions you may have: What do I do after training? How do I put together a resume with no experience? How do I navigate this new freedom from training, my hesitation to teach, the fear of teaching a class for the first time outside of training, etc. Yes. All of those things! I'll answer these questions through my own experience, and also, by gathering information from yoga business owners, eRYTs, and others who are experts in the field. I hope you'll follow along on the journey!

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Photo by: Emily Roth

When people think of branding, many think of huge organizations with recognizable colors, slogans, and logos. But branding is much more than that, and as a new yoga teacher, branding matters. 

By being consistent and engaging with your students/followers online, you may start to see class numbers increase and other teaching opportunities arise. So, in order to get those follower and students interested in what you offer, there are a few tactics you can use when it comes to developing your brand as a new yoga teacher. 

I recently had a conversation with Emily Roth, the Marketing Manager at Namaste Yoga + Wellness Center in Oakland, CA. She's been in the yoga business for several years and offers the following branding tips for new yoga teachers: 

1. Embrace Your Story

Every yoga teacher is unique (yes, even you!) Do you have other interests outside of yoga? Travel often and have met incredible people? Are you a doctor by day and a teacher by night? Share it and let your students in on your life.* When people are able to connect with you a deeper level they start to look at you beyond "my yoga teacher." When they feel this connection they are much more likely to advertise your classes for you by telling their friends! #Winning. To start: write down or say aloud to yourself why you love teaching and why you decided to become a yoga teacher. Think of it as creating your personal brand’s “About” page. What was the catalyst that led you to teaching? How has your life changed since becoming certified? Remember, you are a living, breathing advertisement for your own product (your class), your content (your own practice and what you do off the mat), and your brand (your teachings). Streamline this story so it becomes easily digestible, succinct, and highlights what makes you unique.

*Only share what you are comfortable with your students knowing about. 

2. Connect and Cross Promote 

Once you have connected with other teachers, share your experiences. Post photos of you attending their class, share status updates about hanging out with others in the community, and share event invites for workshops being taught by other teachers. These types of social media posts are attractive to students because they get to know what you do outside of classes, and many enjoy seeing your engagement with the yoga community. Additionally, by syncing with more established teachers who the students already trust, they may be more willing to try your classes, too. 

3. Believe You're a Star

The internet is filled with tools to help you start your personal brand - take advantage of them! Set up a Facebook Page (not a personal page) as a public figure, create an Instagram account dedicated to your yoga practice and teachings, create a website and make sure to list all of your classes, your bio, and any upcoming workshops. There are several great website services such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress that all make it easy (and cheap) to create beautiful sites with minimal technical experience. It is also worth hiring a professional photographer to take a variety of photos that you can repurpose across all of these platforms. Is a professional photographer out of your budget?  iPhone and Android phones have great cameras and work just as well as professional cameras.

To read more tips from Emily, click here.

Have you successfully used social media to build up your classes and brand? If so, what's worked for you?

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