UGH…what to do about chronic re-schedulers…

In person support session 1

Last time on the blog I answered some questions from our community, and then in came several more questions I’m excited to answer!

Here is an edited version of some of the questions that came in:



from Emily

“I’ve been teaching yoga in and around Chicago for about 8 years and over the past year I’ve added more private clients to my business. My question is: how would you handle a client that starts to fall into a pattern where they’re having to reschedule every week or cancel?

Thanks in advance for your insight!”

from Annette

“My question is exactly what Emily wrote above. I am having the challenge of getting out of rhythm with a client’s schedule due to her work travel. Though she has purchased a 5 pack, it may take us 8-10 weeks to complete it.”

then the same question from Amelia

“I had this same problem with a client. She rescheduled or cancelled multiple times in a row.”

and another one from Kristi

My husband is a personal trainer and has one repeat offender. He is afraid to cut her loose (she literally cancels about twice the sessions she keeps) because he really needs the income, despite how little it ends up being. He does charge her for days she gives less than 24 hours notice. She doesn’t respect his time. I am curious what your response will be to these other gals because I think it would apply to him as well. Thanks for sharing yet another great post!”

You guys made it easy for me! I know this is something that most yoga teachers struggle with, so I am looking forward to digging into this today.

We are going to look at this from two different perspectives. We will start by looking at this question from the surface level– the view of the container. Once we get all that clear, we will look at the heart of our work. You will see how my formula for success has depended on me taking the initial responsibility for showing my clients why they should be committed to their practice.

Creating a Strong Container: The Surface Level Business Answer

    • First, a truth you must accept:: this is a cyclical, unstable, inconsistent business. Clients will go out of town or get sick and there is no way to plan, predict, or control that.
    • it is possible to make this teaching career a steady source of income, but it takes work and time to build up a practice that can withstand these fluctuations.
    • It is important you don’t have all your eggs in a one-client basket.
    • I recommend having several different sources of income and financial support until you have a schedule that is padded enough to withstand those inconsistencies.
    • It is of the utmost importance that you are firm and clear about the 24 hour late cancel policy: if you’re unsure about that, check out one of my most popular posts on the topic here.
    • If a client cancels more sessions then they use in a standing time slot and you have someone else who wants that slot  then you can tell your client that. I have done that several times.
    • Important note here: if you are irritated at your client, and taking their behavior personally, you won’t be able to deal with this in a skillful way.
    • You must do some serious inner work to release any frustrations you are having with your client. Their behavior really isn’t a result of a lack of respect for you, it is a result of wavering commitment to themselves.
    • If you need them to respect you more, it is your job to teach them how to treat you.
    • Just say to them,
      • “I’m sorry you are having such a hard time making your Thursday appointment. Are you sure that is the best time for you? I have someone else who wants that slot, so if you can’t use it, I will need to give it to them.”
      • And you say this super sweetly, without any stress or resentment. I have taken time slots away from clients that I loved and continued working with. It was totally fine.

The Heart of Our Work: The Deeper Level Answer

DSC_3248-1This may be unconventional and even controversial advice, but I know I have been successful in my teaching because I decided it was my job to help my students fall in love with yoga and commit to their practice. If you are expecting all your private students to show up excited and 100% committed you will often be disappointed. In my teacher training, The Science of the Private Lesson™, I talk in-depth about how to teach your clients in a way that inspires and facilitates their commitment. If your student is behaving in an uncommitted way, don’t read that as them disrespecting your time, read that behavior as a lack of interest in what you are doing.

Now, before I go any further I must say: Please! Do not get down on yourself. Being hard on yourself will actually limit how much work you can get done here, so don’t waste your time being frustrated. If you are reading this blog, then I know you are doing a wonderful job with your students just because you care deeply about being a good teacher.

Your presence and attention and care are the most important qualities you bring to your teaching. {Tweet it!}

That said, there may be some things you can shift in your teaching to reach your students as deeply as you want to. Without criticizing, you should start thinking critically about how you could support your student’s increased commitment to themselves and their practice.

I wrote a blog that mentioned this idea when I talked about whether it is important to teach your private clients a well-rounded asana practice. {Read the whole blog here, HINT though: it’s not that important to teach a well-rounded asana practice.}

In my private yoga teaching I prioritize offering a practice that supports meaningful change my students can feel right away in their body and life. This creates a natural commitment to the practice that continues to facilitate lasting change. Sometimes this results in an unconventional practice.

I have one student that is a great example of this. She is strong, flexible, and quite familiar with yoga and all aspects of the practice. She is open to, and capable of, moving through a well-rounded Intermediate/Advanced asana class. However, she also has an incredibly busy life, and is extremely physically active outside of her yoga practice. She runs 5 or 6 times a week, and works out {quite aggressively} with a trainer twice a week. I taught her a fun and well-rounded intermediate yoga practice in our sessions for many years. She liked our classes a lot and had standing appointments with me twice a week.

She also late canceled our sessions quite regularly.  She would feel too busy or overwhelmed to take the time for her practice and email me a few hours before our session to cancel. She was really sweet about it, and never gave me a hard time about paying for the session, but I didn’t feel good about it. I had a nagging sense that even though she had two standing appointments with me each week, she lacked real commitment to her practice. I had a feeling that I wasn’t reaching her as deeply as I could be.

Then I wrote the curriculum for my teacher training, The Science of the Private Lesson, and I realized that because she was so easy to teach, I wasn’t doing all the things with her that I recommend for meaningful, private teaching. Once I began implementing the tools I teach in my teacher training, this student and I {very slowly} began to shift her practice to be one that is balancing within the scope of her whole life. Although from the outside it might seem like a strange practice {read more about it here}, it is a practice that supports her unique physical, emotional, and mental needs across the spectrum of her life. In prioritizing meeting her deepest needs and taking the responsibility myself  to inspire my student’s commitment to her yoga practice has had a life-changing impact on both of us. Teaching her in a deeply personal way like this has created a much deeper commitment to herself, her practice and our work together.

She never late cancels anymore, no matter how busy she is.

In Person Support Session 2The most important concept I need you to remember here is this:  If you make it your job to inspire your students excitement about their practice, then your business will grow. Teaching in this highly personalized way requires your deep presence and attention. Serious inner work is necessary to show up for your students in a grounded and useful way as I recommend here. Please be sweet and compassionate with yourself as you do this deep inner work.

Share with us here friends: Have you had a chronic re-scheduler in your private practice? Do you think you’ll be able to implement some of these ideas?

Photo credit: Gertie Gebre Photography

8 Responses to “UGH…what to do about chronic re-schedulers…”

  1. Maria

    Thank you Francesca! I am reading this because I had a cancelation this morning . These are great tips to remember, creating a strong container for there to be growth and healthy conversation and teaching .

    • Francesca Cervero

      Thank you Maria! I am honored to have you here in this community with me! Sending love your way…

    • Francesca Cervero

      Thank you so much for the love Jennifer! As my first teacher {and true teacher’s teacher} your support means the world to me! <3

  2. Sandy

    Yes, I have one of those students. She cancels or she waits every two-three weeks to schedule another lesson. She is retired and really wants to get back in shape. But I’m afraid I’ll never be able to have an impact with so little asana time. This last time she left without making an appointment. And then told me via email she would need to wait almost four week before she could come back again (various reasons and excuses). I gently reminded her of her goals and told her how much I’m committed to helping her reach them and gave her options of when she could reschedule. Does that sound okay?

    • Francesca Cervero

      That sounds perfect Sandy. Just keep showing up for her in a grounded and consistent way, and she will catch on eventually! Sending love.


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