How to explain to a potential student what is so special about a private yoga lesson…

The teaching you do in a group yoga class should look and feel drastically different from the teaching you do in private lesson.

Does it?

If it doesn’t, fear not, that is not uncommon. Many many teachers teach private lessons as if they are group classes for one person. And it makes sense. As yoga teachers we learn in our initial trainings how to teach safe and effective group classes.

And this is no easy feat! Teaching a group yoga class is quite challenging!

Here are some things we have to do as group yoga class teachers:

  • Create, remember and teach {sometimes complicated} choreography that builds towards a peak pose or teaches a specific idea.
  • Offer modifications, adjustments and alignment cues to keep everyone in the room safe and healthy
  • Weave a spiritual teaching or dharmic idea throughout the movement practice in an integrated way

While these skills are challenging to learn and practice, and will make you a wonderful group class teacher, they don’t help at all when teaching a student in a 1×1 session.

Teaching yoga in a 1×1 setting in a way that is both accessible and meaningful for the students AND enjoyable and sustainable for the teacher requires a unique skill set that is not taught in regular yoga teacher trainings. (You may have heard that The Science of the Private Lesson™ is a specialty teacher training that fills these gaps?)

Last time on the blog we talked about a few ways to find new private clients to work with. One of the things I mentioned there is that you need to be able to clearly differentiate the benefits, outcomes and experiences in a private lesson as opposed to a group class.

Here are some of the things that are so different about a private lesson:

As the teacher, you need to be able to hold and create space, including:

  • turning even the most hectic home or busy office into a sacred space for yoga
  • dealing with frequent interruptions in a way that leaves your students feeling nurtured, not judged, and sets a positive tone in the room
  • managing the intense vulnerability of teaching one on one so you can stop feeling nervous with new clients

You need to create sessions that address student’s unique bodies and needs, including:

  • thinking on your feet and creating sessions that meet their students where they are on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels
  • having a deep knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics and knowing how that should affect your teaching
  • giving physical assists in a way that transcends the typical group class experience and is appropriate and safe in a private setting

You want to build professional, warm and long term relationships, including:

  • building trust with your students on every level; creating a relationship where real transformation can occur
  • creating long term relationships with clients who are committed to working with you, so you never have to hustle for clients again
  • dealing with difficult clients so you can actually enjoy working with them

You have to maintain strong and clear boundaries, including:

  • setting physical, emotional, financial, and time boundaries so you can be truly present and generous with your clients without depleting yourself
  • dealing with the administrative part of your job like a professional so your clients feel well cared for

Now, you are not going to give that whole list to your students, of course! But YOU need to know what the differences are, and be able to teach in a very different way when you teach private lessons.

Here are some things I have said to students to explain why a private lesson is so different from a group class:

  • You get a class that is specially designed to meet YOUR needs.
    • You will be given appropriate modifications, sequences and poses to help bring your body into a state of optimal health and balance.
    • You don’t have to do the poses or the parts of the practice that  you don’t like.
    • You will see positive physical changes much more quickly than if you only practice in a large group class.
    • We can focus on the spiritual teachings and practices that will support you the MOST right now.
  • You get 100% of my attention.
    • You can ask as many questions as you want.
    • We can take as much time as we need to address your concerns and to break down the poses or practices that YOU are excited about.
  • You don’t have to rush or squeeze a yoga class into your schedule anymore.
    • We will pick an ideal day and time for your practice, so you can get the most out of it.
    • I will help, lovingly, to hold you accountable to your practice. I will keep your timeslot sacred and will be there at the same time every week to support you.
    • I can help you create a safe, effective and enjoyable home practice sequence to do between our sessions.
  • You get EXACTLY what you need. Today.
    • Your practice needs will be honored at every lesson.
    • Whatever kind of physical, spiritual or emotional practice you need to come into better balance, you will receive.
    • Being able to focus completely on you, I can use my intuition to create a session that meets you where you are on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels, no planning or “heads up” required.

When you read the last blog, did it give you some ideas and new ways to connect with potential students? If so, you could use the ideas in this blog to get you started!

How have you explained what is so special about private yoga lessons to potential students? Share with us here!

14 Responses to “How to explain to a potential student what is so special about a private yoga lesson…”

  1. Julie

    I am just getting started in the private yoga business and am excited to be learning so much about this. It is definitely essential to differentiate between group classes and private sessions. One of the big phrases I use to help show people the difference is….in a private lesson, the student can always go at their own pace. I teach yoga at a gym and I hear from so many students that other yoga teachers go too fast. There are great benefits to going slow and great benefits to meeting students where they are (at their own pace). This will help them reap the benefits of yoga faster and more efficiently, AND without injury. Great article, and thank you!

    • Emily

      I’m a brand new teacher and looking for work teaching group classes but also interested in teaching privates. On one hand I feel very under qualified but on the other hand I feel like I should just start going now to get practice. Has anyone else started teaching privates as a new teacher?

      • Georgina Siddall

        Francesca, thank you for sharing some of the ways you describe 1:1 sessions. I had been using the more obvious ones but you mentioned some subtle points, such as focusing on the most relevant/useful spiritual teachings and practices.

        Emily, I am also a new teacher focusing on building a private yoga business (I prefer interacting with people 1:1 or in small groups) and I’m learning a lot very quickly because I am constantly researching new conditions and exploring ways to meet students’ unique needs. Being new means that I don’t necessarily have the skills to create a session on the fly. I always come prepared with a plan but make notes, adjustments and substitutions along the way. I follow up by email with the revised sequence and suggestions for practising at home. I keep serving my clients with an open heart and trust that my ability to respond to their needs on a given day (Francesca’s last 3 bullets) will develop with time.

      • Emily Herrick

        Emily, I highly recommend Francesca’s Science of the Private Lesson course (she’s not paying me to say this! :o)) I believe everyone who wants to teach private sessions needs to take this course. It is incredibly valuable in building confidence and knowledge.

      • Francesca Cervero

        Thanks for your great question Emily! I did start teaching private lessons as a pretty new teacher {in the first 6 months} but I also had a strong movement background and college level anatomy and kinesiology under my belt. The best thing you can do as a new teacher is take your time….make sure you are constantly studying functional anatomy and biomechanics and teaching your private lessons in a simple and conservative way. The best way to become a better teacher is to get started teaching and think critically about your teaching along the way. Good luck! <3

      • Francesca Cervero

        You are soooo welcome Georgina! It sounds like you are on a wonderful path. <3

      • Francesca Cervero

        Thanks for the warm shout out Emily Herrick. I loved having you in my training last year! <3

  2. lisa

    In my private yoga sessions I feel like my students are more at ease and comfortable revealing their emotions. That being said there is deeper connection to self care .

  3. Betsy

    Great post! I love guiding my clients as to what they need at that exact moment. I always enjoy your blog posts. Thank you!

  4. Jennifer Brilliant

    Love the way you’ve articulated our work, Francesca!
    I’m happy to hear that you’re encouraging newer teachers like dear Emily to keep studying. And having committed to tt and to studying with you, Emily will know more about yoga than her students and that could boost confidence. And as you’ve said confidence comes from experience.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Thank you so much Jennifer! I can’t tell you how much your love and support means to me. You are the ultimate teacher’s teacher; I owe so much of my good work to the study I did with you. <3


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