An Empty Yoga Class Might Be Good
Why an Empty Yoga Class Might Be the Best Thing to Ever Happen to You!
We’ve all reached tough points in our time as yoga teachers. You might know this scenario well: You’ve prepared your class, your teaching notes are ready, maybe you have a music play mix all picked out and perhaps you’ve even chosen a theme for the night. You commute to the studio ready to serve.
When you get to the studio, the parking lot is empty and you think, “Well, it’s early still.” But the lot never fills up, the bike rack is empty and the front desk looks like a ghost town. You go inside to the studio and wait. It’s start time and…
No. One. Shows.
So many feelings can arise – loneliness, feelings of rejection, inadequacy, relief that you have the night off, anxiety about paying your bills, and even anger at the time slot you have allocated. It’s hard not to take it personally – even if it’s because of the weather or circumstances beyond your control.
And what if only one person shows up? Now you must put all those feelings aside and be there 100% for the kind soul who made the effort to be there. This is not an easy thing to do when you’ve been thinking all day about how you’ll meet your rent or mortgage payment and you rely on teaching to help pay your bills. If you parked outside at a meter, you will pay to teach yoga tonight.
What is the best way to handle these situations?
It’s normal to feel sad and anxious about this state of affairs but, being good yogis, most of us quickly look for the silver lining, give our situation a positive spin and make good use of the time.
But how can you truly make the most out of these circumstances and get a new lease on teaching?
If no one shows up
• It’s a great time to do a much needed yoga practice which will improve your teaching in the long run.
• You could also interact on social media with students to help keep the conversation going outside of class.
• If you brought your laptop, you could work on your newsletter to help ramp up your communication efforts to ensure better attendance in the future.
• Go home! Schedule an impromptu date night with your significant other, or play time with your children. You’ll be amazed at how much inspiration you’ll gain from personal time.
If one or two students show up
• Now is not the time to lament the situation or let your disappointment show. Your attitude toward these students is going to be paramount to the future success of that class!
• Remember, the students might feel as badly as you do that no one else came and many are aware that you made just as much effort as they did to be there in exchange for very little or in some cases no compensation.
• You’ll want to reassure them that you love the intimate setting and depth that can come from a small session – and let them know they will get a private lesson (or a semi-private if more than one comes) which is a great perk!
• Although we rely on our classes as part of our income as professionals, the highest reason we teach yoga is to help others and we chose this because we love what we do. Even if you’re worrying inside about your income, get in touch with that higher aim because it’s still true.
• More than ever, now will be the time to be on your A game – those few students who do show up are the ones who will tell all their friends to come to your class next time!
Now, this is all well and good, but it is still vital that you look at the underlying issues that might be causing low turn out in the first place. Don’t let yourself go into denial!
Low turn out (if not intentional) is not a good use of time for anyone except the student who gets to have a private lesson with you – but even that might make them feel uncomfortable if they were expecting to practice in community! The studio does not benefit, nor do you.
Therefore, take these considerations to heart:
1. Consider how long you have been in that teaching at that time with low turnout.
Is the class slow because you started teaching at that hour fairly recently? It’s normal for a new class to take 3-6 months to attract a turn out. Or have you been in that slot for over 3-6 months with no luck?
If you’ve been at it for a while in this slot with no luck it could be that the time is not convenient for students, the class takes place opposite a more desired class or fitness activity, or your teaching and interaction skills need improvement.
Look into the most popular times that people in the neighborhood do their exercise, and make a note of what else is offered nearby that could be pulling students away.
Seek out honest feedback from another teacher in your community and be open to what your studio manager has to say about your teaching if they have received feedback about you. Sometimes the smallest change based on feedback can make all the difference.
2. Are you filling your classes better in other time slots?
If you are filling your classes well in your other teaching slots, then this time slot is probably not a great time for your students! However if all of your classes are getting the same low number results, it’s time to look at what you can do to improve in the following areas:
• Your “model teaching container”. Are you keeping up your practice and self care? Do you manage your time well? Are you managing your personal finances well? Have you analyzed your teaching schedule to make sure it is optimal and sustainable? Do you have a mission statement about why you teach yoga? Are you contributing to your community or to the causes that matter to you the most? When these areas of your life are “dialed in” you can show up as a teacher who is inspired, rested, calm, and organized.
• Your teaching and interaction skills. Are you personable, friendly and conversational with your students? Do you learn their names and attempt to get to know them? Perhaps it’s time to take a teacher training or go on retreat to brush up your skills.
• Your marketing, promotion and personal brand. Do you rarely if ever email your subscribers about where and when you teach? Are you lurking on Facebook but never posting? Is your personal brand unclear? Are you conflicted or confused about teaching yoga in exchange for money? Are you conflicted about self-promotion?
• Your belief and visualization skills. Are you visualizing your classes filling with a lovely community of yogis? Or do you unconsciously expect low numbers? Where do you see room for improvement?
By all means, keep your attitude in check and make good use of the time when you experience a yoga no-show or low-show, but get to the bottom of the low turnout as soon and take action to change course. Otherwise you risk yoga teacher burnout which I do not wish on any yoga teacher (or their students)!
Now it’s your turn to join the conversation. Have you experienced the Yoga No-Shows? What have you done in that situation? Leave a comment below and let’s talk!
~ Amy Ippoliti, prAna Ambassador, yogi & E-RYT500
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Amy is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education serving both students as well as fellow yoga teachers. She co-founded 90Monkeys.com, an online professional development school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Yoga International, Self, Origin Magazine, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), Elephant Journal, Intent, and many more. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute, Esalen and Kripalu. She is a regular presenter at the Yoga Journal Conferences, Omega Institute Conference, Wanderlust Festivals, and the Hanuman Festival. Since the age of 14, Amy has been a champion of all forms of eco-consciousness, animal conservation and more recent forays into marine conservation.
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