Let’s get the old “authentic yogis don’t market themselves” juggernaut out of the way first up, shall we? If you’re a yoga teacher trying to make a living in this big world of money, you’re nothing like the ganja-smoking, dread-head, blissed out yogis of yesteryear. Your personal yoga practice may be traditional and your devotion to the tradition may be unconditional, but when you step onto the mat to make a living, you’re a professional. Professionals need marketing.
Whatever your personal motivation for becoming a working yoga teacher, I daresay your desire to share yoga with the world was top of the list. To share and teach, you need to communicate. And that’s what marketing is all about.
Marketing is about clear communication
Marketing suffers under a terrible reputation. Particularly in yoga, many view it as sleazy, dishonest and in-your-face. Please don’t let the actions of marketers who lack imagination and morals colour your perception.
At its foundation, marketing is simply about clear and compelling communication. Marketing seeks to communicate the value at the heart of a product/service as effectively as possible.
Teaching is also about communication. In just 60 or 90 minutes, you need to communicate the essence of yoga – not only the asanas. You are trying to get at the heart of a long and complex tradition and explain it as simply and powerfully as possible. Normally, you do this by making the asanas and teachings relevant to your students.
Communication is what people hear
When you tell your class to “place your left hand to the outside of your right foot” and not everybody does it, you don’t stop to berate yourself for terrible instruction, you just try again: “Bring your left hand onto the mat, on the little toe side of your right foot”.
Communication is not about what you say; it’s about what people hear. Your students will hear your instructions differently, so you’ll need to adjust, with new phrases, by demonstrating, and by physical adjustments. And, despite your best efforts, they won’t all be listening all of the time, so you need to repeat yourself.
It’s the same with marketing – this is a constant process of refining your message for your audience so that they can understand it. Some people will prefer to hear from you face-to-face, others read every email you send, yet others are addicted to Facebook. You need to talk to people in a way they understand – which may mean dropping the new age talk. And you’ll need to repeat yourself.
Serving only those who are ready
As yoga teachers, we don’t roll out our mats on the side of the road and bully people into joining us. Although we may believe that yoga is for everyone and anyone may experience its benefits, we also know that we cannot bamboozle people into trying something if they’re not keen.
It’s the same with marketing. We are all on different paths, going different places. We need to create marketing only for those ideal clients who stand to gain the most from our business. We need to first define who our ideal clients are and then narrow our focus so we’re talking just to them.
People are busy, and distracted. They are constantly filtering out messages that aren’t relevant to them. When your marketing is broad and general, it becomes invisible. Effective marketing is highly targeted, personal and direct. Just like yoga teaching.
Focus on why
When you’re instructing a class, you’re unlikely to go into significant detail about the muscles, tendons, bones, hormones, lymph system and digestive system. You may, instead, focus on the broader, underlying theme of the class or name the top two benefits of an asana.
It’s the same with marketing – save the who, what, when and where, and jump straight into the why. Focus on the benefits and the underlying motivation for your business offerings. The fine detail comes later.
A little a day, every day
Yoga teachers have natural discipline to do their yoga. We know that a little a day every day is far better than splurging on two hours of yoga, followed by … nothing. We know that health is not a quick-fix pill but a long-term, proactive commitment.
Welcome to marketing. A little a day, every day is far better than nothing, followed by furious activity and desperate discounting. Building a tribe of people around your yoga business happens slowly, over time. You gain people’s trust by being consistent. So you need to do whatever marketing you do – whether blogging, email newsletters, social media, advertising, networking or event sponsorships and partnerships – a little a day, every day.
Most importantly, keep on keeping on. The world needs more yoga teachers who can thrive in business and bring yoga to more people.
By Brook McCarthy
Brook McCarthy is a yoga teacher, writer and director of Yoga Reach online marketing consultancy. Yoga Reach specialises in face-to-face and online courses, training and business coaching especially for yoga teachers and wellbeing professionals. Learn more on authentic, effective marketing by downloading the Authentic Marketing Manifesto – http://yogareach.com.au/marketing/.
We all know from our own experiences the many benefits of practising yoga regularly. So it can as no surprise when I read this article on the health benefits of practising yoga in the Art of Healing magazine providing evidence to support this.
For a great many people the benefits of yoga are obvious in light of its long history of over 5000 years. However in the Western world a higher level of proof is required in the form of randomised, controlled clinical trials before it is fully accepted within the conventional medical system. This is often referred to as the “scientism of medicine”. It largely dismisses anecdotal experience (learning from the experience of others) which is what the majority of the world uses to work out if something has value or is worth doing.
The article outlines a range of areas where yoga has found through trials to be highly effective in treating modern ailments such as:
Whether you are wanting relief for an ailment or just want to improve your health and well-being, yoga is an excellent form of exercise.
Liveyogalife.com is an online yoga studio offering MP3 yoga and meditation classes for a wide range of styles, interests and levels.
Join Patty Kikos for a Kundalini yoga workshop that will help you shift your perspective, boost your nervous system and renew your spirit for spring on Friday 20 September from 6.00pm – 8.00pm at Jivamukti Yoga Sydney, Newtown NSW.
Together, you will experience a beautiful sequence that will cleanse & rejuvenate the liver meridian and help you release the heavy emotions you no longer wish to carry. The practice is done at your own pace and with your eyes closed which makes it open to all levels and personality types.
Past workshops have sold out so bookings are essential in securing your place and avoiding disappointment. Visit Patty’s website for more information and to book.
Join Patty Kikos for a 8-week Chakra balance course starting on Thursday 22 August 2013 from 6.00pm – 7.30pm in Bronte, Sydney NSW.
In this Spring-focused 8-week chakra balance course, Patty focuses on increasng the energy of your vital organs so that you feel stable, abundant, sensual, free, spontaneous, creative, confident, loving, expressive, intuitive and inspired.
During the spring months, Patty’s course will gently and lovingly energise each vital organ so that you have the physical energy and mental clarity to appreciate and enjoy the longer days.
The last courses both sold out so bookings are essential in securing your place and avoiding disappointment. Visit Patty’s website for more information and to book.
The article highlighted two recent studies that found significant benefits in practising meditation.
1. A new imaging study found that people with no prior meditation experience showed changes in particular brain mechanisms when they participated in a four-day mindfulness meditation program. In particular there was a marked decrease in the presence of anxiety after meditation.
2. A new study published in the Journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that the practice of meditation keeps people healthy. The study involved a group of 201 people suffering from coronary heart disease. They had a choice between a health education class or take a course in transcendental meditation. Over a five year period, researchers followed up with both groups and found that those who took the meditation class had a 48 per cent reduction in their symptoms and overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
Liveyogalife.com has a range of meditation products available for you:
1. The Yoga Academy Teacher Training Course (BWY Accreditation, Yoga Alliance 200-Hour Certification)
Simon Low’s next 2-year course at his residential venue Commonwork Farm near Sevenoaks in Kent begins on 15 November 2013.
2. Yin and Yang Yoga – Teacher Training and Study Immersion
Samahita Retreat on Koh Samui, Thailand, is the venue for The Yoga Academy’s Yin and Yang Yoga Teacher Training and Study Immersion, with Yoga Alliance 200-hour certification, now running for the fourth consecutive year. Founded and led by Simon Low, one of Europe’s most renowned yoga teachers, The Yoga Academy is considered by many to be the most highly respected yoga teacher training school in the UK providing in-depth education in the full spectrum of yogic studies.
3. Yoga Alliance 500-Hour Teacher Training – Upgrade Course and Study Immersions
Held at Samahita Retreat, Koh Samul Thailand from 18-25 January 2014.
4. Ongoing Training for Teachers
Simon’s annual ongoing Training for Teachers weekend at our homely training venue Commonwork Farm in Kent, UK from 22-24 November 2013.