The next chapter we’re reviewing in the blog tour of my new book, “Stretched: Build Your Yoga Business, Grow Your Teaching Techniques,” is called “Teaching Private Yoga Sessions.” Working with students one-on-one is a great way to hone your skills as a teacher, think about how to customize the practice to meet someone’s unique needs and build your assisting skills. It’s also a way for us as teachers to get comfortable working with people individually instead of in group classes. This can give us a bit more freedom when it comes to what we say; since we’re only speaking to one person, we can make it more like a conversation and open up the experience for the student to ask questions too if they wish.
I start out in this chapter with a list of reasons that someone might want to book a private session. The most obvious one is to learn the poses but there are many other reasons as well. Sometimes when students approach me, they’re looking for justification to book a private session or might start out with a question that really is better addressed in a private session. That’s the perfect time for you to suggest one and explain how it would fit nicely into the context of a private session.
The next section in the chapter covers considerations for you as a teacher. There are many things to consider, not the least of which is where will you hold the sessions? I hold my private sessions in my home but that’s only because I live alone and have made the space available for sessions. I also am sure that I feel comfortable with the person being in my home and some of that has to do with knowing the person beforehand versus accepting a request from an email. I also do a number of other little things to ensure safely. If you don’t have a place to hold privates in your home or don’t feel comfortable holding them there, you can hold them at the studio where you teach, especially if the person is someone that takes classes with you there. However, you’ll need to check with the owner, find a time that works for the studio as well as you and the student and pay the studio a portion of your fee to cover the rental aspect. This can cut into your rate so you may want to consider adding this rental fee onto your teaching fee and explaining that to your client.
Once I review the list of things to consider for you as a teacher, I give you some general themes you can use when teaching private sessions. I have found that there are some typical kinds of students that invest in privates: 1) the Beginner 2) the Injured Student 3) the Older Student 4) the Advanced Student 5) the Corporate Executive Student. This has been my experience though and you may see different kinds of referrals depending on the mix of people in your area and where you teach. Also, this grouping in no way suggests that you approach people from a cookie-cutter approach. It simply is a way to think about some of the common threads that show up for people as you begin to see them. This can give you a way to start out with each person when you see them and provide a basis for an initial approach. From there, you can customize things for them.
One question I often get when working with new teachers is what should they charge for working with someone individually. Many teachers charge between $80-$125 per session but rates can vary depending on where it is, what the request covers, your travel time, any fees you need to pay to the studio and any other factor you feel should be considered. I have a base rate for privates and as other variables present, I add in for those. I also explain to the client if there are any questions about the rate itself but I’ve found that when clients are serious about booking privates, they are less concerned about the cost and believe it is a real investment in their health, so cost is less of a concern.
Another question I often get from new teachers is around when they are ready to teach privately. Generally, you want to be teaching at least a few months or at least a year before teaching someone privately but this can vary depending on your comfort level with teaching. For the most part, this person would have either found you through your classes or word of mouth, so you can feel comfortable that they believe you are qualified. But it is important that you feel somewhat comfortable working one on one with someone. This chapter will give you lots of support around that. Generally, approach these first few private sessions in the following way:
– Select a space that you feel comfortable in. If your home is not right, be sure you pick a studio or other location where you feel comfortable.
– Use the first session to ask questions about the person’s yoga practice, their general health and any injuries they have or have had. This assessment is a chapter all it’s own but if you start with general questions, it’s a good way to ease into that first session.
– Use a very basic sequence. Start them in Child’s Pose or Supta Baddha Konasana (if they have knee issues). From there, work through basic standing poses, twists, balances, triangles, backbends and hips. I know that’s very general but unless they’re an advanced student coming for help with an advanced practice, that should give you more than enough to work with in the first session.
– Leave a full 5 minutes for Shavsana.
– Leave 5 minutes for wrap up.
Once you have done a few privates, you’ll be able to determine if it’s something you enjoy. Most teachers really love it and it’s a great way to learn more, research specific things that come up, earn extra money, build your reputation as a teacher and feel a deep connection to someone’s overall health and well being.
Next Up: Finding, Booking and Teaching Corporate Yoga Classes