by Kara-Leah Grant
I’ve been having conversations lately with friends who would like to reap the benefits from a regular yoga practice. They see what it’s done for me, so have no doubt yoga can do amazing things for the body.
There’s likely people like this all over the world.
- People with injuries they know would benefit from yoga.
- People who are getting older and would like to maintain their suppleness and strength with yoga.
- People who need the mental release and clarity from regular yoga practice.
They want to go to yoga classes.
But they don’t.
So why not?
Part of the answer lies in their perception of what yoga is – something that you need to be flexible to do.
Part of the answer lies in an experience they’ve already had in a yoga class – of not being flexible enough.
Yet yoga is not about flexibility. I’m gonna say that again because it’s really, really, really important.
Yoga is NOT about flexibility. Flexibility is the natural result of practicing yoga over a period of time. It’s the result – not the prerequisite.
When we teach yoga, we need to make sure that students know this, and they feel really comfortable about being wherever they are within their bodies on the mat. If we don’t, we lose the student, and they lose out on the potential benefits of yoga.
Each of my friends has been to a yoga class before, yet because of the way the yoga was taught, they didn’t go back.
One friend said:
It just felt like the teacher was using the class to show off how flexible she was.
Another friend commented:
I just couldn’t do any of the moves so didn’t bother going back.
A third friend has told me:
The teacher pushed me into a posture and something tweaked – it didn’t feel good for days.
Incidences like this give yoga a bad name. It’s bad press. Each of these people walked away from a yoga class and didn’t go back. They want to do yoga, but they don’t. As a result, they’re losing out, and we as yoga teachers are losing out.
These kind of stories are balanced in part by the people who rave about the way that yoga has changed their life and their body – there’s no doubt about that. But I’d like to see less and less people having a bad experience in a yoga class.
I’d also like students to know that:
If you ever go to a yoga class which isn’t great for one reason or another, try another class. And another. And another, until you find the class and the teacher that resonates with you.
As teachers, we need to be thinking about these wannabe yoga students and how we can attract them back to our classes, because they already want to do yoga.
This is simply good marketing. Keeping a customer happy is always much easier than attracting a new one. And someone who’s already been to class is an existing customer, even though they’re currently not coming to class.
Yep, I’m thinking about yoga in terms of marketing. I’m thinking about promotion and PR, and how we can harness it to grow yoga. And I think it’s about time we did this as yoga teachers. We need to shamelessly promote yoga because people want to do it. They really, really, do.
Great yoga marketing is all about making yoga more accessible, so more people feel comfortable about coming along, they have a great experience when they do, and they find the right teacher and class for them.
So if you’re a yoga teacher or studio, and you’re thinking about promoting some classes, workshops or a new teacher, think about this:
- How can you appeal to all those people out there who have done yoga before but had a bad experience?
- How can you appeal to all those people out there who would love to do yoga but don’t think they’re flexible enough?
- How can you appeal to all those people out there who may have encountered the wrong yoga teacher for them at the time?
These people want yoga.
They need yoga.
All they’re waiting for is the right invitation and the right approach.
It’s up to us as teachers and studios to determine what that is, and offer it. Then we’re serving the needs of our students… which isn’t really marketing after all, is it?
It’s just service.
Which in yoga we call seva.