Are you dreaming of sharing more then asana classes? Are you interested in introducing your students to some aspects of Yoga beyond the physical practice? Want to develop your public speaking skills and begin to teach “off the mat”? Why not expand your teaching practice to include workshops and special events? You can follow your own interests and explorations to design creative and experiential workshops to deepen your students practice, expand their awareness of the teachings of Yoga, and help them bring Yoga home into their relationships, their work, and their everyday life.
As teachers you have had experiences in studying and exploring the 8 Limbs of Yoga, including of course the essential daily practice of asana and pranayama, but how about those amazingly beneficial techniques that you don’t often get to share with your students; mantra yoga, meditation, yoga nidra, restorative yoga, partner yoga, chakra yoga, breathwork, study of the spiritual texts, deeper exploration of asana, or the yogic lifestyle? Designing your own yoga workshop series is a great opportunity to share your knowledge of what is “beyond the asanas” with your students and with your community. Do you have a special interest/practice that you would like to share? Why not take it to your students in the form of a workshop, lecture series, retreat or yoga event?
If you want to offer a special class or event, a unique location can help you create a transformational space that can help your students take their practice to a whole new level. Some examples are:
- Sunrise/Sunset Yoga on the Beach – one of my favorite teachers in Toronto runs a sunset beach class every Friday (by donation) and everyone brings a candle (in a wind-proof container of course) so that by the end of class the sun has set and the class is surrounded by candles.
- After-hours classes in a dramatic location like an aquarium, park, art gallery, rock-climbing facility etc. I know a woman who teaches at an aquarium and the students are deeply relaxed by being bathed in warm blue light from the tanks, with fish swimming about, and being surrounded by the element of water.
- A local wildflower or organic farm, maybe even include tea or lunch?
- Satsang at Sunrise (outdoors is great, but make sure it’s a warm and safe space)
Perhaps you want to team up with another teacher whose skills and knowledge compliment your own. Co-teaching helps to take the burden off you as promoter/facilitator/teacher/manager/host by sharing duties, sharing students (you will have a wider audience to draw interest from), and each teacher’s area of expertise, method of delivery and message can be helpful to students who learn in different ways and through different means. Partnering means you share in the risks/costs/workload, and you also share in the experience and all the rewards.
If your students want to learn something that is beyond your knowledge base or skill set, why not bring a teacher into your Yoga community who can? You get to learn along with your students, create opportunities for growth for all involved, and you will usually earn a “hosting fee” in the process.
Following the wisdom of Ayurveda and the flow of our modern lives you might like to offer seasonal workshops or special classes to inform, inspire and assist your students in deepening their practice and becoming more aware of the needs of the body/mind in each season.
Lunch and Learn
Corporate and on-site wellness programming is seeing a dramatic increase in popularity as companies understand that the more “well” the workforce, the better their creativity and productivity, and companies who implement on-site wellness programming see a decrease in sick days. For Yoga Instructors, this means that there is an increasing demand not only for workplace Yoga classes, but also “lunch and learn” programs that offer an experiential information session to help employees find greater wellness in and out of the workplace. Subjects might include:
- Brief relaxations
- Yoga stretch breaks for better postures
- Yogic lifestyle tips
- Breathwork exercises for relaxation and/or dynamic creativity
I would suggest that you come up with some suitable topics, perhaps in discussion with the human resources department of a company that you’d like to work with. Then practice your workshop to develop the right timing, create a handout so that your information is easier to implement, and consider the needs of each individual workplace so that your session will be most impactful.
There is a growing market for yoga-based retreats that offer rest and relaxation, but also study and practice in the science of Yoga. Perhaps you would like to design a retreat for your existing students, or create retreats, intensives or “boot camps” for a specialty market including;
- sport specific (ie: yoga for runners or for a sports team or association)
- yoga for: couples, families, women, men, seniors…
- corporate yoga retreats
…or simply for students that are looking to explore yoga more in-depth and spend a weekend living the yogic lifestyle. Hosting retreats requires a few months of preparation, but can be immensely rewarding for student and teacher, and a great way to share more of the art and science of Yoga with your students.
A Final Word for Teachers
Yes, running workshops and retreats does require more administration, advertising and planning and preparation. But, the benefits of teaching workshops are so abundant not just for your students, but for you as a teacher as well. Leading workshops will help you to develop greater confidence in public speaking, help you refine your skills at teaching “off the mat” and sharing theory and philosophy of Yoga, help you refine your marketing and promotions skills, and also assist you in broadening your audience and reaching students who might not have access to or interest/ability to attend asana classes.
So my friends, above I have listed a few ideas and inspirations for those of you who might like to take your teaching and your students “beyond the asanas”. I look forward to hearing how you are creatively sharing philosophies and techniques and helping your students to dive deeper into the heart of Yoga.