Congratulations! After months of hard work and dedication, you are finally a certified yoga professor. After having finished your training, it's time to get started advertising your services, finding clients, planning your classes and teaching! Teaching your first lessons can be a little intimidating at first, especially if this is your first time teaching yoga.
But with a little time and preparation, you'll see just how easy and rewarding teaching yoga can be.
In order to help you get started teaching yoga, we've made a list of everything you'll need to start teaching yoga and preparing for your classes.
Remember that the best way to start, is to be relaxed and mindful and to teach your students how to use yoga to help them to escape the stress of their daily lives.
So let's start by looking at how to prepare for your very first yoga lesson. Although preparing for your yoga lessons may seem time-consuming at first, it is absolutely essential in ensuring that your first lessons run smoothly.
Here are some important things you'll want to bear in mind:
Choose a theme for your yoga class
It may be a good idea to establish a specific theme for your yoga class. This can help to change things up a bit from the boring 'Beginners or Intro to Yoga Class' and help to differentiate your classes from other yoga teachers.
The theme for your class will also help you to set the orientation of your class and let your students know what the aim of your class will be. For example, you may want to focus on hip-opening class, a relaxation class or a class to help you improve your flexibility.
By establishing a specific theme, you'll be able to select sequences that will be coherent with your theme and this will help you to develop more interesting and inspiring lessons.
You may wish to consider introducing the theme at the beginning of your class and also consider advertising the theme of your class in advance. Throughout the class, you may wish to circle back on your theme and remind your students why each of the poses in the sequence they are following is related to the theme of your class.
Plan your Sequence of Yoga Poses
Depending on the theme of your class, you'll want to select poses that are coherent with your theme. It's important to start with a warm-up sequence to allow your students to stretch out their muscles before moving on to more advanced and dynamic poses. It's important to select a good variation of poses in order to keep things interesting for your students, and to make sure that they are working many different muscles in their body. When practicing different poses, you may wish to explain the benefits of each different pose.
Here are some examples of a common sequence of poses used during a yoga class;
- the Downward dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) => build up strength in hands, wrists, lower back, hamstrings and calves
- the Fish pose (Matsyasana) => to improve your breathing, stretching out the throat, chest and abdomen
- the Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottasana) => helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles
- the Chair pose (Utkatasana) => helps to tone muscles and stretch out chest and shoulders
- the Bow pose (Dhanurasana) => helps to improve the function of the cerebral system
- the Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) => to slim your waist
Timing: Set a reasonable during for your yoga class
Most studio yoga classes last anywhere between 30 minutes to 90 minutes. The first ten to twenty minutes are dedicated to stretching, breathing exercises and meditation and the last ten minutes are dedicated to cooling down and meditation.
The rest of the class should be dedicated to following a sequence of more dynamic poses, depending on the style of yoga that you are teaching. A standard 60 minute long Vinyasa class may look something like this:
- 10 minutes of breathing exercises, meditation and warm-up exercises
- 30 minutes of dynamic sequence of poses
- 5 minutes focusing on holding central poses of the lesson
- 5 minutes focusing on balances (depending on the level of your students)
- 10 minutes stretching poses to cool down and meditation
Think about establishing smooth transitions between each section in order to help your students to stay as relaxed as possible.
Safety: your role is essential
Always remember to revise your safety training that you'll have learned from your teacher training, and how to make recommendations for each poses for people with certain sensitivities or injuries. Adapting to the needs of your students is critical when planning a yoga class.
It's your job to make sure that your students are warmed up and prepared for each pose. For example, you wouldn't start a class directly with a headstand before preparing with other poses to warm up the neck and back muscles.
From your teacher training, you'll also know to never start a class with a Full Bow or Wheel pose, without having previously properly warmed up the spinal cord or this can lead to serious injuries.
Always revise your anatomy section of your yoga teacher training, to fully understand what your body's limitations are and to make sure that you are aware of student safety. Never push yourself or your students into poses that may cause injury and listen to your body and be aware of how it reacts in different poses. Remember that every body is different, and that not all poses will be accessible for everyone. Be sure to have a few modifications on hand for each pose.
In order to ensure a safe yoga practice, these items are absolutely essential:
- a yoga mat: for each student
- a towel to put on each mat
- a small blanket for relaxation sequences
- blocks to help for modifications where needed
Adapt your classes to your students' level
One of the most important aspects of being a yoga teacher, is the ability to adapt your classes to your students' physical condition and level. When teaching private classes, this is certainly easier as you'll have more time to evaluate how each student is able to follow along with the sequence and hold each pose.
During group classes, this will be more difficult to manage as each student will be different. You will have to manage your time and provide different modifications for individuals at different levels in your group. It's a good idea to advise students before each class whether the class is accessible for complete beginners or experienced yoga students.
It's important to guide your students in terms of both mental and physical well-being.
Learning to Judge the Mood of Your Yoga Group
Fanny, one of our best Superprof yoga teachers, shares that in order to adapt her yoga courses to each student's level, she proposes various poses or modifications for each level to practice.
This helps her to ensure that everyone can participate and that no student is left behind. Yoga is an inclusive sport that is open to anyone, regardless of their age or physical condition, and as a yoga teacher it's your job to help every student discover the benefits of practicing yoga.
Students may also have a different objective for practicing yoga. Some may want to practice yoga to relax and alleviate stress, while others may want to practice a dynamic form of yoga to stay in shape or lose weight.
It's important to get to know each student and discover their strengths and limitations, as well as reason for wanting to practice yoga.
Sometimes, your lessons may not lessons may not always go as planned.
Other times, you'll see that your lessons planned are too easy or too difficult and you'll need to adapt your lessons on the spot. Don't be afraid to get creative and change things up if you see that your students are up for a more challenging class. This is important no matter what style of yoga you are teaching.
Remember that the mood of your group will depend on:
- The season
- The time and duration of your lessons
- The level of your students
- The reason that students are practicing yoga
- Your own mood and enthusiasm.
How to Sequence your Yoga Class
All yoga sessions will vary depending on the style of yoga you are practicing as well as the duration of your yoga class. In general, you'll want to follow the same general sequence: preliminary warm-up and relaxation, breathing exercises, transition to warm-up poses, yoga postures, relaxation and decompression.
To start your yoga class, it's important to allow your student to relax and forget about the worries of their day. You can start with preliminary relaxation exercises to allow your students to release anything that may be weighing them down, such as worries about their job, their families etc. You can pair this with simple breathing exercises (called Pranayama) which allow your students to develop their focus and get in touch with their emotions. By focusing on their breath, this allow them to enter a state of relaxation, focus and mindfulness essential before getting into the poses.
Once your students are more relaxed, it's time to get into the warm-up poses, to stretch your muscles before getting into more advanced poses.
Next is the focus of the class: go through a series of yoga postures (Asanas) depending on the nature of your class. Some classes, such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga will practice more dynamic and advanced poses, while others may focus on holding a position for a long period time, in yin yoga for example.
You'll have to decide on an appropriate sequence of postures and the duration in which your students will hold each pose. Remind your students to breathe and take a moment and leave some time for them to decompress following each pose. Encourage students that are struggling to hold a pose to test their flexibility, but never force them into a pose as this may lead to injury.
Leave time at the end of the class for your students to meditate and reflect on the class. They should come out of the class feeling relaxed and motivated to start their day.
How to Set up Yoga Lessons from Home
Any experienced yogi will agree: you have to practice yoga regularly.
The same goes for students and teachers, the key to succeeding in yoga is to practice yoga as often as possible. It's better to practice for 15 minutes each day than for two hours every once in a while.
You may wish to ask yourself (and your students) why they pract To improve your sleep? To help deal with stress? To improve your flexibility?
One sophrologist and specialist in Prenatal yoga follows the following structure:
- Start with a warm-up phase including breathing exercises and meditation
- Start with your favourite pose that you feel that you've mastered
- Afterwards, concentrate on a pose that you have not yet mastered
- Practice a sequence of poses that allow you to return to your centre
- End with a meditation session
Now you are equipped with everything you need to prepare your first yoga lesson. So what are you waiting for? Find your students and start teaching! Try to connect with each of your students and get to know their motivations for practicing yoga. Adapt your lessons to your students needs and you'll be sure to succeed.
How to Get Started Teaching Yoga Classes
Before you get started, you'll have to consider how you plan to start teaching.
For example, would you prefer to work full time as an employee in a yoga studio or perhaps as a freelancer, giving your own private lessons.
There are a number of advantages of working as an employee in a yoga studio is
- Paid holidays
- Easy to find students
- Paid social benefits by employer or studio
- Paid holidays
- Greater security- a guaranteed amount of classes per week
- Retirement plans
However, more and more yoga teachers are opting to become self-employed or work as a free-lancer. Here are some important benefits:
- You set your own tariffs
- No commission on classes
- Greater flexibility- you set your own schedule
- Can select the location ( choose to teach at your home or your student's)
One of the most important things to consider when freelancing, is that if you fall ill or are unable to work, then you won't have any income. Additionally, if you don't succeed and accumulate a lot of debt, you will be liable.
Given the difficulty in finding jobs as a salaried yoga instructor, many yoga teachers opt for self-employment. Learn how to find yoga students here.
One of the most important considerations is what rates to charge for your classes as this will impact how you choose to give your yoga lessons.