Students usually seek private yoga sessions because they are trying to find a solution to some sort of problem. Either they are too shy to attend public classes, they are injured or they feel they are just not ‘good enough’.
Your first session will be completely different than follow up sessions.
Consider scheduling some extra time in your first session and plan to sit down with a notebook to ask some questions to customize your sessions.
You might want to inquire about the following:
- What are their goals in the private session?
- History of their physical activity. How often do they do yoga or any activity?
- Lifestyle (sleeping, eating, travel, kids, relationships etc..)
- Do they have a meditation practice? Pranayama practice? Spiritual Practice?
- Inquire if they are comfortable with hands-on adjustments
20-30 minutes of talking it’s time to get on the mat. At this point you will need to do a physical assessment of your student so that you determine what to do next.
You may want to start with simple ujjayi breathing in a seated position, or you might decide to jump right into movement. You can do this through asking them to do a few rounds of Sun Salutation and take notes on:
Natural pace of movement
Knowledge of postures
Overall tone of the skin, expression on the face
Alternatively (or additionally) you could do a Range of Motion test (see handout) as a way to assess their needs, strengths and weaknesses
During the private class
Each teacher, style, tradition and student are different. There is no formula or correct way to conduct a private yoga session. One student may want to learn ‘advanced poses’ while others want Savasana and rest time. It’s very common for students to be ‘confused’ about the breathing, so in my experience it can be best to start here, or you might want to break down all the movements in the Sun Salutations, another area of confusion for many students. As teachers we need to be flexibly, creative and tuned into how to best serve them.
Ending privates on-time can sometimes be difficult as the lines between friend and teacher can blur. You might best plan to meet at other times in other places for socializing, or clearly state at the end of a session that you have ‘10 minutes’ for tea and then you have to leave.
Ongoing sessions and fee’s
Decide where to teach (your home, their home, a studio) and include travel time in your fee. The number of years you have been practicing as well as geography (are you in the city? countryside?) will also help determine your fee.
If your students decides to do ongoing sessions do a pre-paid package of 5-10 classes with a clear cancellation policy.
You may want to include a legal waiver form (see attached) during this initial session as well. Some teachers like to keep notes on each lesson but certainly you should keep track of payments, dates and times of classes.
Be sure that if you are teaching in your house it’s clean, organized and quiet and if you teaching in someone’s home all the props you need are available.
Don’t talk about your personal problems or bring coffee/food to class
Research about your student’s injuries so you are informed
Keep good notes on what you do and say each session
Don’t teach the same thing you do in your public class that week
Be creative and introduce new things (but not every week)
Be sure you are familiar with the most common modifications for the most common poses
Suggest homework between sessions (like using stick men to make a sequence)
Be prepared to work at odd hours
Keep your listening and visual skills sharp
Always listen to any advice students have shared from doctors/therapist
Finally, clients will often tell you that another teacher taught them to do things this way or that way, some of which might differ from your knowledge or experience. Never speak negatively about another yoga teacher and please don’t say what they have learned is wrong. Always respond that there are many styles and approaches and together let’s find what’s best for the student right now, today.