Two Different Ways to Find New Private Clients

Are you a yoga teacher who is depleted and exhausted from running all over town teaching group classes to barely support yourself?

You certainly wouldn’t be alone if you are.

It can be such an uncomfortable truth to uncover: making a life and a living as a yoga teacher is HARD. I know you started doing this work because you love it and you want to offer helpful and healing tools to our world that so desperately needs them.

But the day to day reality of teaching yoga is probably much harder than you thought it would be.

I get it. I’ve been there too.

Maybe it looks like this?

  • The teachings of yoga have changed your life for the better. You feel deeply inspired to make yoga meaningful and accessible to every one of your students.
  • The problem is, you have to run all over town teaching tons of group classes to (barely) support yourself.
  • You can’t seem to make time for your own practice or self care and you’re on the road to burnout.
  • You are unhappy running around teaching nameless students in crowded group classes because you would like to be able to reach your students on a deeper, more intimate level.
  • You would love to include private yoga teaching in your practice, but you don’t know where to find students who appreciate what a valuable service a personally designed, privately taught yoga lesson is.

I am here to help! Today we will look at two different ways to find new private yoga clients.

Idea Number One:

Teaching Non-Traditional Yoga Students


Finding private clients who would benefit from a yoga practice but wouldn’t dare walk into a yoga studio

Many of the students I taught in my private practice in NYC were people who were interested in the potential benefits of yoga, but felt uncomfortable attending a group class at a yoga studio. There are many reasons students may feel uncomfortable going to a yoga studio, and you should try to get a sense of what your students’ reason is if you want to best help them.

{Disclaimer: There are many kinds of “non-traditional” yoga students, and here I am referring to the ones I have the most experience with; athletes and professionals who want to create a healthy body and mind but think yoga is really weird.}

The tough part about working with non-traditional yoga students is that you have to “sell” them on yoga AND on yourself. Because of those barriers, random “marketing” won’t get you very far, but personal recommendations will help a lot.

First though, you have to be sure you know how to teach someone who would not set foot in a yoga studio.

Step One: Be prepared to teach an unconventional class.

Step Two: Begin the practice in a way that is grounding, but not uncomfortable.

Step Three: Make sure you know how to tailor a yoga practice for an individual’s needs.

Step Four: Check out this framework for a first session with a new client.

Step Five: Brush up on your anatomy and biomechanics knowledge and be sure you are ready to work with someone who may need many modifications in their practice.

Step Six: Reach Out to Complementary Practitioners

Many different kinds of doctors and wellness practitioners recommend yoga to their patients. I want them to be recommending you!

  • Make a list of every single wellness practitioner you know. These could be people you know socially, students in your group classes, or practitioners you have worked with personally.
    • Physical therapists or orthopedic surgeons (especially if you have special training in therapeutics)
    • Psychotherapists (especially if you have special training in trauma sensitive yoga)
    • Chiropractors
    • Acupuncturists
    • Functional Medicine Physicians
    • Ob-Gyns, Midwives and Doulas (especially if you teach pre or postnatal yoga)
    • Massage Therapists
    • Running coaches (especially if you are a runner)
    • Personal Trainers
    • Nutritionists
    • Health Coaches
    • Life coaches
  • Email each of those people and say something like this,
    • “Hi! I am reaching out because I am working to grow my private yoga teaching practice and I feel like our work is really complementary. I would love to offer you a free private yoga lesson to give you a feel of my work. If you think my teaching would be supportive for your patients and clients I would so appreciate your recommendation. Let me know if there is a day and a time that would work for you to schedule a private lesson!”
  • Check in with your fellow practitioners regularly, and let them know anytime you recommend their services.
  • Be prepared for your practice to grow slowly, but steadily. Get comfortable planting seeds without the certainty that they will grow into clients, especially right away. Having warm relationships with practitioners in complementary fields can only be good for you and your teaching practice.

Idea Number Two:

Turn Group Class Students into Private Students

Step One: Find out whether or not you signed a Non-Compete Clause in the contracts with the studios and gyms where you teach.

  • Many yoga studios have them, but not all. If you didn’t sign a non-compete clause, then the places where you teach group classes are IDEAL places to find new private clients.
  • You don’t have to “sell” these students on yoga, nor do you have to “sell” them on yourself, because they already know, like and trust you and they like yoga enough to show up to a group class.
  • What you do have to do in this situation is show them the difference between private classes and group classes and help them see the value of private work. I’ll talk more about this topic in an upcoming blog!

Step Two: Make sure your group class students know you teach private lessons.

  • I mention this quite regularly, and casually, when I teach group classes.
    • That looks something like this: “When I tried this exercise with a private client early this morning, he found it really helpful. Let’s see if you guys like it also!”
  • When you make announcements for the studio, you can also announce that you have a few spots open for private lessons, and if you offer discounted intro packages you should mention that as well.

Step Three: When students stay after class with a question, as you give the quick answer to their question you can also suggest that even just one or two private lessons would be a great way to dig more deeply into their question. I usually frame the suggestion of one private session as a place to learn some modifications they can bring into their group classes. Many times one private session has turned into a long term client.

Step Four: Teach your group classes in a way that gives your students a taste of what all of your 1×1 attention would feel like. I learn ALL my students names immediately, as well as their injuries and body issues. I give them modifications and ask them how they are doing THROUGHOUT the group class, even if there are 25 people there.

Working with yoga students in a 1×1 setting can be such a JOY. You are able to teach them in a much deeper and more useful way than in a crowded group class. You will also learn so much about yoga and the body and your own temperament by teaching in an intimate setting. You REALLY have to know what you are talking about when you are only talking to one person! I love this work so much and I absolutely think that teaching private students should be an enjoyable, meaningful and sustainable part of any yoga teacher’s career.

I hope these ideas can spark some action towards building more private teaching into your schedule. Let me know what questions you have!

2 Responses to “Two Different Ways to Find New Private Clients”

  1. Suzanne Muro

    This is sooo helpful! I’m teaching a yoga 101 class and have men who can’t sit comfortably and one who has a double knee replacement. I think they would benefit and would love to turn some of these into private clients but struggle with how to do that without feeling like I’m undermining the studio. More suggestions would be so great! Also what do you with students for whom a seated position is very uncomfortable. Xo Suzanne

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Suzanne! You should talk to the studio owners. If it’s okay with them, then it’s okay! If sitting is uncomfortable for a student, I do two things. One; Have them sit as little as possible, and probably not at all. Most people sit too much anyway. Two; work on the issues in their body that make sitting difficult. This varies too much person to person to list here, but mobility in strength in the hips is a good place to start. Make sense? Let me know if you have any other questions!


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)