Teaching Yoga: Building Trust On & Off The Mat

By Moraima Capellán Pichardo

Building trust on and off the mat is essential to yoga teachers looking to expand their business via yoga retreats and workshops. Yoga places a tremendous amount of importance to the teacher-to-student relationships. Trust is a key aspect of leading safe and educational classes.
New yoga teachers are often overwhelmed by the experience of leading an asana class. Because of newly learned information, new teachers can find themselves in a headspace of doubt and instability. These nervous butterflies are normal and healthy!
If you are a new yoga teacher, try to remind yourself, that you are in a position of responsibility to your students. They are coming to your class and putting themselves in a vulnerable position. The work that your students are doing on the mat is more important than anything else. You know your material, teach what you know.
Building trust on and off the mat, gives you room and freedom to explore yoga retreats and workshops.
building trust on and off the mat

Start in the studio

Building trust on and off the mat starts in the yoga studio! Sounds obvious but there are a few things you might not have considered, that build up the tone of your classes:
  1. Prepare & Organize: You can never prepare for all situations. And while you should try to teach the person in front of you, it is helpful to have a sense of where you’d like to go for each class. Planning a sequence can be quite fun but don’t beat yourself up  if you forget some of your notes.
  2. Introduce yourself to your students: ask them about their practice and if they have any injuries or conditions. Otherwise, some students might not tell you of important information that you need when adapting your sequence.
  3. Ask students if they are okay with physical adjustments: Don’t assume that students will be okay with hands-on adjustments. You might have a student coming from a traumatic experience where touch is a trigger. Always keep communicating as you adjust: is this alright? Can I apply more pressure? Etc.
  4. Stop demonstrating: You don’t need to demonstrate a warrior II. Use detailed descriptions that allow you to walk around and look around the bodies in front of you. Students are not paying to watch you practice. If you need to demonstrate an advanced posture, take a moment to pause so that all the students can watch you. When it is their turn to give it a try, you have space to spot any students that need it or provide additional guidance.
  5. Give your students room to take ownership of their practice: Not all styles of yoga use props such as blocks and straps. But regardless of which style you teach, you don’t want to scare your students away by becoming militant! Encourage them to listen to the needs of their bodies and rest when necessary. It’s important to repeat this when working with new students who have yet to build the confidence to move in intuitive ways.
building trust on and off the mat

Connect after class

After class, open your space up to questions and comments from students. This gives you an opportunity to grow with your students and makes you more accessible. Encourage your students to share their experience through testimonials. You can later use these on your website and/or social media presence.
Think about how you choose your dentist or hairdresser, you ask your friends for a recommendation! New in town? Of course, you check for reviews! As a yoga teacher, you are on the other end. Especially when you want to reach new students with a yoga retreat and/or workshop. You’ve got to first build up trust on and off the mat.
Studies show that, on average, 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business. More than 80% also trust reviews like a personal recommendation. You are a business.
Don’t hesitate to ask your students for a review and/or act as your ambassador and recommend you to their friends. Always mention it after class.
  1. Give them a form where they can fill in some feedback. Always be grateful for whatever feedback you receive. You can learn from both positive and negative feedback.
  2. Collect email addresses and start a newsletter. Send out kind reminders with a link to the review platform as well as event news.
  3. Tell students and friends to give you a review on Facebook, Instagram, Google etc.
  4. If you’ve already read a retreat and/or workshop, use testimonials on sites dedicated to these yoga events. Websites such as: bookyogaretreats.com and bookretreats.com
  5. Ask students to mention you in a social media post, saying what they like about you as a yoga teacher
If you don’t spread the word, they might not think about it at all.
building trust on and off the mat

Strategize your social media presence

It’s alright to chose to not engage with the online yoga social media world. If that is the case, consider making your accounts private.
If you chose to be active on social media, please remember: the amount of followers and likes on any given platform is not indicative of your worth as a person and as a yoga teacher. Social media is another tool to build a following for your classes, retreats and workshops.
  1. Post quality images and/or notes: There can be quite a lot of noise and accounts that look and sound the same. What can you offer to a prospective student? Show that through the content that you share.
  2. Don’t spam: Gentle reminders work better than outright badgering people.. Remove outdated wording from your posts: check this out and follow me. Try to show your personality.
  3. Engage your followers and/or the community: the online yoga community can be a comforting and supportive space. Keep it positive and encouraging.
Building trust on and off the mat is all about your overall presence. It’s a combination of the important work done inside the classroom and how you chose to engage outside.