My Students, Myself: 4 Tips for Attracting Your Type of Student. ~ Kimberly Lo

Via Kimberly Lo
on May 13, 2013
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New yoga instructors are often given a lot of advice when they are starting out, but few are ever asked about the sort of students that they would like to teach.

The fact is, there are as many different types of students as there are styles of yoga. If you asked me right after I completed yoga teacher training who I wanted to teach, my honest answer would have been “Anybody.” Over the past three years, I have taught everyone from kids, to weekend warriors, to retirees. I have enjoyed them all and while my classes are open to anyone who is interested, it seems I have found my niche: I enjoy teaching those who are new to yoga or returning after a long hiatus.

My typical student is a middle-aged woman who works full-time at a desk job and may have a hard time carving out time for herself. As an instructor, my goal is to have her leave feeling better than when she arrived.

The law of attraction is very real: if you put out a certain vibe, you will attract certain types of students. In order to find out who you may want to teach, keep the following in mind:

1. Take an honest assessment of yourself. Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? What sort of yoga do you like to practice, and what do you like to take away from it?

For example, if you are an introverted person who feels the ultimate goal of a practice is to leave feeling more centered and calmer than when you arrived, then teaching at a trendy vinayasa studio that’s popular with the under 30 crowd and known for upbeat playlists is probably not going to be a good fit. Likewise, if you are an extrovert who loves following the latest trends and loves being pushed to their edge, then teaching at a health club where the average member is 50+ is probably not going to suit you.

The majority of brand new yoga instructors start out teaching at a studio or health club, so it is important to do your homework. The best way to get a feel for a place is to visit it. Observe the people who are attending the classes. Ask the owner or manager what sort of people are regulars. Most are happy to share. Also, ask the instructors who work there. Get an idea of what they are like as well, especially the ones that appear to be the most successful/have the most repeat students.

2. On a similar note, ask yourself what your students should expect from you.

Are you comfortable with the idea of socializing with students outside of class, or do you view your role as strictly that of a professional, and any and all relationships begin and end in the class? (I personally know a few instructors who will not even entertain the former idea.)

As an instructor, it’s important to set boundaries, and only you can determine what they are. Again, be honest with yourself and what you are comfortable doing. While most of us probably like to think of ourselves as warm, open and inviting instructors, some people really are uncomfortable when strangers or near strangers share personal information with them. Again, only you can determine what your boundaries should be. It’s far easier to know them before hand and set them than try to change them after you have been teaching for awhile.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

All of us are better at some things than others, and we may not be aware of it. Even star teachers aren’t good at teaching every single group of students out there.

Ask for feedback from your instructors from teacher training or ask your students for feedback both positive and negative. Believe it or not, most students will give it to you if you ask. While most of us don’t like to hear the negative, I have found it to be incredibly helpful.

4. Never forget that being an instructor is an ongoing process.

Your style will probably change, especially if you end up teaching for the long haul. You may start out thinking you may want to teach a certain group or groups of students and that may change. Or maybe you find you are really good at teaching a group you never considered teaching before.

Lastly, have fun. Students can tell if an instructor is truly happy to be there or going through the motions. Having an open mind and heart is far more important than having open hips.






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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.


10 Responses to “My Students, Myself: 4 Tips for Attracting Your Type of Student. ~ Kimberly Lo”

  1. amphibi1yogini says:

    I don't know if you are going to attract the kind of student who has been at the advanced beginner level for about 6 years. Because there is a good chance that that type of student (me) is a primarily home yoga practitioner (YES. I AM! AND I'M NOT YOUNG. GET USED TO IT.] Now I have significant health challenges, so that makes it absolutely EASIER for the teacher—choice in where to go within the practice framework has significantly narrowed. Hey, now it's easier than ever to actually go to class more often. Instead of once a month on average!

    The New York City areahas been overrepresented by the ones who don't really know that they are actually appealing to the under-30 weekend warrior/ or any-age marathon runner type. I have had a significant presence on social media, systematically ratting them out–actually one or two, and much of it on my blogsite. A gaping niche was discovered in the marketplace local to me by a canny movement studio owner. Voila, I'm back.

  2. Kelly says:

    A thought provoking article, thank you x

  3. fragginfraggin says:

    Have you ever contemplated your level of selfishness? You only want to 'attract' certain types of people… Ugghh…[barf!] I've never encountered a yoga teacher that makes the gift of yoga more self-centered.

  4. kimberly lo says:

    You totally misread my article: I make it clear that my classes are open to everyone. I even make it a point to say I enjoy ALL the students I ever encountered.

    However, it isn't selfish to say that some yoga teachers are better suited to some styles of yoga and people. I have yet to meet any instructor that is able to teach ALL styles of yoga and serve ALL populations.

    As far as my selfishness goes, I have taught mostly donation-based yoga or free yoga classes in the cases of kids' yoga, and have had people of all sizes, shapes, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

  5. kimberly lo says:

    I am not trying to be snarky, but I do not understand some of the comments.

    First, did not say I am interested in advanced beginners or only want to teach them.

    As far as you saying "AND I'M NOT YOUNG. GET USED TO IT"-I actually say most of my students are middle-aged. I also have taught retirees.

    In fact, I even wrote a piece on here about the benefits of being an older yoga student.

  6. amphibi1yogini says:

    That is not the problem. The problem is that newbie teachers are taught not to think outside the box. They are taught to be studio-centric, moving in for the upsale to convert the class attendee to workshop attendee or private students. I learn best from other people, not from an occasional "immersion" in a workshop experience. In the past, I have learned enough to create my own, at-home, challenging practices, which are effective and have survived my transition into compromised health.

    There are older students who have upper body strength and open hips–externally-rotated (which body structure is HEREDITARY–please see or read any videos or books produced by Paul Grilley). According to the only teacher I had ever had countertransference with, these are the students who can eventually do advanced poses.

    Now, possibly a vegan diet/frequent low-teacher-to-student-ratio class attendance/private session attendance could provide nurture against this nature, and help the older student actually advance … but it's not particularly likely — not even in the proverbial 10,000 hours.

    Sometimes, the teacher figuratively pulls their hair out. They figure out there must be SOMETHING someone like me could advance in. So I would continue to come to the studio. They fantasize that I have upper body strength to make up for lack of flexibility except in my lower back–insulin resistance at that time was the great masquerader in regard to upper body strength. So, thinking outside the box is paramount. An open mind … and lack of greed, helps–which you have stated you have already.

  7. amphibi1yogini says:

    If you teach in a studio, you may not be selfish. You may be a newbie teacher in survival mode.

    Self-preservation (and integrity) dictate that you teach what you learned, avoid blowback (from the studio boss, from the clients), and try not to make too many mistakes.

    You have taught kids yoga with a generous heart.

  8. shareen woodford says:

    "Having an open mind and heart is far more important than having open hips." = Awesome!! Thanks 🙂

  9. Mia says:

    I totaly agree with you Kimberly. Im a teacher too and I started out with the trendy playlists because thats what I had seen going on in the last couple of years. It didnt suit me as I am quite introverted. My first experiences with yoga where over 10 years ago before it was really trendy and I missed that so I decided to bring that back as much as I could. When I stopped using the trendy playlist and started using more Yoga /Kirtan music my classes grew. I stopped feeling like I had to socialise with students before and after class. None of my students expect that now. I get about 30 in my class sometimes.

  10. befunknote says:

    It's because you keep saying you can't. Do you have any idea how powerful your mind is?

    Also, your comments are a bit incoherent.