The Good, The Bad, and The Complicated of Private Yoga and Money

Yoga and Money: Part Two

Living and working as a professional yoga teacher often brings up challenging and complicated questions about money. I am going to answer some of them for you today!

Last time on the blog we talked about how to come up with pricing for your private yoga sessions. This week I will answer some of your most frequently asked questions about how to handle your money as a private yoga teacher. The next {and last} blog post in this series will dive deeper into the heart of the issues that come up when working at the intersection between being a spiritual teacher and needing to make a living wage. This is a vulnerable place for me to take a stand, and I need some time to synthesize my thoughts on this sensitive subject.

Today, let’s start with this super common question::

How do you accept payment from your private students? Do you offer discounts on packages?

As I see it, there are two main ways to bill students. One is offering that students pay for  packages of 5 or 10 sessions ahead of time, and the other is to invoice clients at the end of month. Let’s take a look at both options.

A Note: I strongly recommend against accepting payment at each session. I think it is best to keep the teaching space and money space separate. I feel most comfortable when all the administrative business {payment and scheduling} is taken care of via email. I like this because then there is a time stamped record of every conversation. This is especially important for scheduling and dealing with canceled sessions. This also means you get to avoid the awkward late cancel conversation…”oh you actually owe twice the amount of cash you are handing me right now since you late canceled last week…”

So, on to a Pros/Cons List—

Option One: Have clients buy packages of 5 or 10 classes and keep careful track of what session they are on.

  • Pros:
    • Clients are committed to at least 5 or 10 sessions. This commitment will be good for their own practice, as well as help keep your schedule consistent.
    • You have a good chunk of money upfront, which means you won’t run into cash flow issues.
    • You don’t have to worry about clients refusing or forgetting to pay you.
    • Not accepting payment at each session is a more professional way of doing business and you get to avoid the awkward late cancel conversation.
    • I did this for the first several years of my teaching career.
  • Cons:
    • You have to keep super careful track of what session they are on.
    • This may be fine in the beginning, but once you have several clients, the bookkeeping for this gets quite confusing. {Or it did for me, once I was teaching more than 20 sessions a week…}
    • It doesn’t set you up to grow as a business and have other teachers working for you.

Option Two: Invoice clients at the end of the month for all the sessions they had. {this is what I do}

  • Pros:
    • This is a super streamlined way to manage your money. At the end of each month you sit down, look through the calendar, and create invoices for each client.
    • The consistency in when and how your students pay you gives the whole interaction a more professional feel.
    • Not accepting payment at each session is a more professional way of doing business and you get to avoid the awkward late cancel conversation.
    • Waiting for payment until after a month of sessions shows your client that you trust them, and helps to build your relationship.
  • Cons:
    • You could run into cash flow issues if your clients take a long time to pay their bill.
    • This may not work for clients you don’t know very well, or trust completely. This system often works better once your relationship is established.

Options for Ways to Accept Payment:

  • check {in person or by sending check in the mail}
  • credit card in person via Square
  • credit card online via PayPal, or a few other options… ———>

I send invoices through Quickbooks and we accept credit card payment through Intuit Payment Network. I know many teachers that use FreshBooks {it is less robust and easier to use than QuickBooks}. I have also used Stripe and Braintree to accept credit card payments for teacher trainings. They are pretty big systems, and more than most yoga teachers need, but they worked really well for accepting payment for my big online teacher training.

For most teachers, I think sending monthly invoices and accepting credit card payments through Freshbooks is the easiest and most professional option.

I highly recommend against accepting cash. If you want your students to treat you like a professional, you have to act like one.

And now for some good ole’ Q and A::

Question:: Francesca have you ever had an issue with a client not paying, paying late, or disputing the invoice? Thanks again x

Answer:: Very rarely. I have never had someone dispute the invoice, but twice I have had clients take more than 6 months to finally pay me. They are both clients who were seeing teachers who worked for me, so they weren’t seeing me in person.  They didn’t owe too much money, but I had already paid their teachers and was out that cash, so that was definitely a bummer. I emailed them each month a sweet reminder, “Hi! Just checking in…you still haven’t paid your invoices for December- February…etc” and they always responded, “Oh no! I am so sorry! I’ll do this tonight!” And they took months to actually pay me. I felt like this biggest problem in this situation was that all their interactions with me made them feel embarrassed and guilty. It was not good for business.

Question:: How to notify clients that you are increasing your rates? How much notice should you give? Do you give an explanation? Is it best to do this via email? Thanks.

Answer:: When I have raised my rates I have sent a note through email. I think it is most comfortable for everyone to have some space to process separately before having to talk about it in person. You can give a simple explanation, but you shouldn’t sound defensive. I would be as warm and friendly as possible, while maintaining an air of confidence and professionalism. How about something like this,

“Dear X,

I am writing to let you know that on December 1st my rate will be going up to $XXX per session. My schedule is getting very full, and this rate change will allow me to hold your weekly spot for you. I have been having so much fun working with you this fall, and I am so proud of all the progress you have made! Here are a few things I am thinking about working on over the next few months:


  • XXX
  • XXX


I am looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday morning and we can chat about all of this.

Have a great weekend!”

I like to give as much notice as possible: I would recommend giving somewhere between three and six months notice. If you are giving less than three months notice, you may want to offer large packages {of around 20 sessions} at the current price, to give people some time before they pay the higher price.

Question:: When a client requests that you write down the full sequence for their yoga practice, do you charge them? If yes, how much? Any additional fees, such as for recording the private session (voice or video)?

Answer:: I don’t charge extra for things like this. My recommendation would be to set your rates high enough that you don’t feel it necessary to nickel and dime your students for extra things you do to support their practice. When I have done things like this, I also haven’t spent too much time outside of our class. I have recorded short meditations to send to students and written out a short list of a few poses to do before the next time we see each other. When we have wanted to write out notes for a full practice, we do that together during their session. I feel it is better to have them write the notes in a way that makes sense to them, and I add in things for them to remember.

Question::  Should I request credit card information before we meet and keep a 24 hour cancellation policy? Or would that throw people off because they are weary about giving out that information at first?

Answer:: For a first session I would make sure your student knows about the 24 hour cancellation policy, and then talk about how and when you would like to receive payment after they have had their first session. Depending on how busy you are, it might be a good policy to offer the first session for free, as a chance for people to try you out. Students might be more open to trying one free session than they would be to committing to a big package without ever working with you. {Then you can WOW them in the first session!} I have also recommended offering a one time offer to new students of a deeply discounted 3 session package. This is another great way to get new students hooked. In any case, I wouldn’t ask for payment upfront before a first session. You can tell them about your policies, but I would just hope they don’t late cancel their very first session. In ten years of teaching 20+ private clients each week, I have never had that happen, so I don’t think you need to worry too much about that.

Phew! Did we cover everything? What other questions do you have for me?? I can make this a regular series if you need me to!

{Sidenote: This just scratches the surface of all I cover in The Science of the Private Lesson™ Online. Click here to read all about it!}

17 Responses to “The Good, The Bad, and The Complicated of Private Yoga and Money”

  1. Anita Barnes

    Hi Francesca:

    I’ve been looking forward to this blog. Thank-you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic. You answered many of my questions.

    I appreciate your generous spirit and your willingness to share you wisdom.

    Anita 🙂

  2. Corey

    The way I keep track of which session my private clients are on is when I write them in my calendar I put the number next to their name: Susan1…….Susan2…..Susan3, etc. This could easily be incorporated into a scheduling software as well like Acuity, MBO, etc.

  3. Fernando

    Hi Francesca,
    good blog and good tips. I implemented the 24hs cancellation notice but it didn’t work well. The few times they needed to cancel within the 24hs it was because a medical reason or a real emergency (providing they told the truth which I think they did). What is your stance in this cases?
    Cheers and thanks for the tips given so far.

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hey Fernando, thanks for the question! In the case of really serious emergencies this is a tough rule to implement. If something really traumatic happened I wouldn’t charge my client. I will just say though, that what can constitute an “emergency” can turn into a pretty slippery slope. If they come down with a cold and cancel the morning before our session? I charge them. This has never happened, but if their daughter was in a car accident and they were in the hospital with her, OF COURSE I wouldn’t charge for that. You have to decide where you draw the line, making sure you are taking good care of both your clients, and yourself. <3

  4. Emily Herrick

    Hi Francesca – I am just laying the foundation for a private yoga business (taking your online course in Feb.) and recently signed up for MindBody because the salesman convinced me that it would help bring in clients even though I don’t have a studio. I notice you don’t mention MB here and just wondering what your thoughts are on using them? Thank you!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Emily! I am so excited to have you in the course!! Thanks for asking this question, it is a good one. I have never found a good reason to invest in scheduling software. As you know, I teach a lot and still my best advice is to keep it simple, and maintain control of your own scheduling. I much prefer to email with clients individually about their schedule. All my clients have standing time slots, so we only email when they have to reschedule. They like having that personal connection with me and I like having total control over the way I organize my schedule. There are so many variables when seeing private clients: How long does it take to get to their house? How much time do you need after seeing a challenging client? Etc. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Emily

        Thanks! My gut had been telling me to drop it so I really appreciate your insights.

  5. Sarah

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. I will be book-marking it! I have needed this clarity. Thank you.

  6. Marissa P.

    I invoice my clients at the end of the month for the next month’s sessions, and they give me a check for the month at the 1st session of the month. Therefore, I get paid up front for the month for each client and that makes it much easier to enforce the 24 hour cancellation policy. If they cancel a session with more than 24 hours’ notice, I’ll credit that session toward the following month. I find it works great.

  7. Julie

    I’m just getting starting (don’t have any clients yet, just getting set up). I got the Square to accept credit cards through my phone, but after reading your post, I’m wondering if accepting payment at each session is not a good idea. What are your thoughts on using PayPal to accept payment online? I’m looking for a way to start bookkeeping and heard of FreshBooks. They accept payments as well? I think paying ahead of time (at the time of scheduling) is important, but not sure what payment process to use. The Square allows you to type in the credit/debit card information in manually, so that might work to accept payment over the phone (but square takes more out of the transaction with that method). Thanks!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Julie! PayPal works just fine, you could send an invoice to a client when they schedule a session so they can pay ahead of time. This will work well if you see clients just once a month, or on an irregular schedule. Freshbooks also can send invoices {I believe}. Best of luck!

  8. Michelle

    Thanks for this post! I’m so glad I came across it and will definitely be bookmarking it. I have my first actual paying client this week (who already bought a 10 session package!) and I’m working on getting all the details prepared 🙂


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