Your Private Yoga Questions…Answered!


IMG_8749I am just back from a fabulous vacation and beautiful wedding on the beach in South Carolina! One of my oldest friends got married, and it was quite the party. The groom and I have known each other since 1986! Our parents are best friends and he was the person that introduced my boyfriend and me, so it was a big celebration all around!

I returned home yesterday afternoon and I am feeling acutely aware of all I have to be grateful for in my life.

I adore the way I spend my days; teaching yoga, connecting with my loved ones, taking time for my own spiritual and wellness practices, and connecting with you!

I so deeply appreciate you allowing me into your lives in this way. I have such a strong desire to support you on your teaching path and the engaging dialogue we have in our online community here lights up my teaching life in the most beautiful way.  As a way to say thank you, I thought I would answer some questions directly from you and our community.

Q: When building trust, how do you first start with a new student? Do you meet them at a studio, at a coffee shop to chat, or do you go straight to their home?

A: I almost never find myself teaching complete strangers. All of my new clients are either referred to me by someone I know well {usually current students} or have taken public group classes with me. Because of this, safety is not a serious concern of mine. This is one of the reasons I love having a referral only business. {The second reason I love a referral only business is that my teaching gets to be my advertising, I don’t have to do much else!} I usually meet my students at the space we will  practice in regularly, most often their home, but sometimes it is their office. If you were teaching a new person and concerned about your safety, I highly recommend meeting them in a public place first! On a few occasions I have taken on private clients who found me only through my website. In the last two years I have gotten at least 60 requests for information about private sessions, and have taken on three of those people as clients. The first level of screening I do with non-referral clients is respond to their email with a long list of questions: Have you done yoga before? What are your goals and desires for your practice? Why do you want to work with a private teacher? Do you have any current or past injuries? The people who write back long, in-depth responses are clearly invested in their practice and are legitimately interested in me as a teacher.

Q: How do you prepare for each client in your non-teaching hours? Do you take notes immediately after your session with a client to prepare for the next time you meet?

A: I don’t often take notes after a session, but I think that is a great idea! When I started teaching private clients 10 years ago, I had no idea that teaching would manifest into such a busy private practice. If I could go back to the beginning of my teaching career I wouldn’t change much, except this! I never got in the habit of doing it, so now it feels impossible. I am in a rhythm of keeping all my clients aches, pains, and issues in my head. I am lucky to teach students regularly for many many years, so I get to know their bodies as well as I know my own. But I think you should definitely take a few notes after each session, just to help you remember what happened. As far as how to plan for your next session, I have a huge teaching on the topic in my online training so I have a lot to say about that! For our purposes here I will just say this: The goal in preparing to see a private yoga client is to be intuitive and alive in your teaching. It may be a good idea to bring some special focus or sequence for your student, but you also have to be totally ready to drop that plan if it doesn’t meet your students’ deepest needs on that day. The best thing you can to do prepare yourself for your private student is get really grounded and quiet in yourself so you can be completely present for them.

Q: How do you deal with a student that decides, for some reason, to discontinue private sessions without volunteering any information as to why? Do you let it go…follow up? How?

I am assuming this interaction has occurred in an email. I would respond right away with a warm, curious, and direct tone.

“Oh, I am so sorry to hear that! I have so enjoyed our work together. It has been a blast to see you grow stronger and more self aware in our time together. I’ll never forget the time you did your first handstand on your 50th birthday 🙂

Is there any reason you have decided to take a break from your yoga lessons?

Sending love,


Then a few months later, I would check in again,

“Hi! I was just thinking about you and wanted to say a quick hello.

I hope your daughter’s wedding was a blast. How is your new job going?

Have you been practicing much yoga?

I hope all is well!



The most important thing you can do here is not take their action personally. I am sure it is not about anything you have done. I would imagine it is more about where they are in their life, and the kinds of self care practices they are finding most helpful or are able to commit to right now. As long as you stay confident and upbeat, you will be ready to teach them again when they are ready to practice with you again. I have had that happen with clients a few times!

Do you have other questions you’d like answered? Tell me in the comments below and I will get to it in our next round of Q and A!

16 Responses to “Your Private Yoga Questions…Answered!”

  1. Emily Miller

    Hi Francesca!
    First of all, thank you so much for all that you do. You offer such meaningful and extremely helpful information/advice/content to the yoga community. I’ve learned so much from you over the past couple of months.
    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!
    And thanks again for all that you do,

    • Annette Rivlin-Gutman

      Hi Francesca,
      I so appreciate your honest thoughts on the realistic things that happen while building a yoga practice: finding clients, maintaining clients, what to do when a client cancels, etc. 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.

    • Amelia

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

    • Kristi Smith

      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!

      • Francesca Cervero

        Wow, awesome! You guys have made this super easy for me! I have many thoughts about this, some of them unconventional and maybe unexpected. Be sure to tune in to the blog in a few weeks and I will answer these great questions!

  2. Gail

    Hi Francesca, thank you as always for your really honest helpful blogs:) In an ever growing inbox – I still always read your emails & love your insights – always so useful! My question is about ‘homework’ for private clients – do you give your clients a practice for in between sessions? &/or contact them with any ‘follow up’ reminders/tips by email afterwards – or do you simply focus on what they want/need at the session itself? Many thanks, Gail

    • Francesca Cervero

      Oh, how lovely for me to hear Gail. Thank you! I feel the same way– in my overflowing inbox, the lists I actually stay on, and the emails I actually read are treasures to me. This is also a great question, and will have an interesting answer because it is super different for all my clients. I will write a blog posts detailing all the different ways I deal with this. Sound good?? <3

      • Gail

        Sounds great! Very much looking forward to the blog post on your answer! Thankyou:)

  3. Gracy

    Love your photographs and sage advice! Your students and their students are lucky to have you. Hugs, G

  4. Lauri

    Hi Francesca,
    Thank you for taking the time to answer questions! I wonder how you format your class content if a student does not lead you to it by way of the questions they answer during the intake process? IE: Do you just create a plan like for a group class, but for one person? Or do you create it “on-the-fly” when you meet with them? Or do you continue questioning until a direction naturally evolves such as working on particular issues? I find that I’m not totally sure what kind of session to create for them without being given direction to particular goals (Im also a massage therapist and this is similar to massage…..IE: if my client does not have particulars they want to address, we do a general massage with no specific focus unless we find something along the way). Thoughts?
    Thank you!
    Lauri Glenn

    • Francesca Cervero

      This is a great question, thank you Lauri. I get a lot of questions about planning and sequencing, so I will make sure to write a full blog about that soon. Stay tuned! XO

  5. Natalie

    Hi Francesca,
    Thank you so much for your blog! I have found some really good advice here. I’m hoping you can help me with this one. I have been teaching for about 8 years and teach out of my home. Just in the last few days I have had 3 people interested in private lessons but of course it seems they never are available when I would like. I’m wondering if you have any rules or advice about scheduling. I didn’t see anything on the blog about this. I have a part-time day job of 17.5 hours and the rest of the time I’m trying to fill up with teaching. I’m trying to avoid big holes of time in the day and also working on my days off. My latest client wants to meet with me on my night off. How do you deal with this? I don’t want to lose the client because I’m being selfish or stingy with my time especially since my private client base is just growing. My days off are Tuesday and Sunday which I’d like to keep free for self-care. So I guess my question is when you were first obtaining private lessons, did you cater to them and hope that later you could get your ideal schedule or did you create “work hours” and then fill in the slots? Also, do you have a rule about when your “work day” should be over? I don’t want to teach after 7:30pm but sometimes that’s what people want. I just get bummed out when my day is ending at 8:30pm, my husband is hungry, and I am too tired to make dinner for myself. I also lose out on evening time to wind down before bed with a book or a movie. Thank you for your time!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for this great question. This issue can be so tricky for yoga teachers as we work to build our schedules. There is a full, long answer to this that I will write a blog about but for now, I will just say this:

      As you are building your career as a yoga teacher you have to do some hustling in the beginning. This usually means teaching at some non-ideal times. Once you have enough work to sustain yourself you can begin to cull and craft your desired schedule. Even in the beginning though, there has to be at least some time that is sacred. For example, when I first started teaching I taught 6 days a week from 7am to 8pm, but I never taught at all on Sundays. I worked hard and have crafted a really fabulous schedule that I love. Stay tuned for the full blog post coming soon! <3

  6. Fabi

    Hello dear Francesca,
    Thank you a lot for all the answers and guidance. My question is about insurance when you teach at their office space. I’m starting and I’m getting an insurance that covers anywhere but what about when their bosses are not sure because what happens if they get injured under their “ceiling” and it could be consider a “work accident” ? I got this comment, and I let it up to the bosses to decide, they were ok after all but I don’t really know what to say next time…
    Thank you and have a blessed day “to-all”

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Fabi! Thanks so much for being here. Congratulations on getting out there and getting started teaching. Your insurance should cover you anywhere, so you should make that clear to the people in charge right from the beginning, just as you did. Otherwise, I would make sure you ensure the bosses that it is very unlikely a student will get injured in your class. You will take good care of them, and invite the bosses to the class, so they can see how careful you are. That will help build your trust and relationship, which really is the best safeguard you have. Does that make sense?


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