By Sarah Diedrick
With most yoga classes being about 60 minutes in duration in many studios these days, workshops are a wonderful way to dive deeper into the practice. By contrast to group classes, workshops are typically anywhere from 2-4 hours in length, creating enough space to more extensively explore a specific area of the yoga tradition.
What are the benefits of a workshop? There are many! But for students, it is the chance to study yoga and become better acquainted with subjects that could be overshadowed by short group classes which can sometimes feel more like another exercise activity rather than a diverse practice.
For teachers, it is an exciting chance to geek out on a yoga topic you really love and to deepen your own studies. For both student and teacher, workshops offer an opportunity to enhance and progress the practice.
So, how do you know when you’re ready to teach a workshop? Here are five tips for making sure you are primed to teach a stellar offering that will widen your scope as a teacher and offer your students some long-lasting gems.
1. You have a focused topic
Workshops are not just longer group classes. They should have a specific focus; a topic or area of the practice that encourages a more extensive exploration. Do you have a topic you’re genuinely excited about and are ready to research more? What are areas of the practice that you are particularly drawn to? This could be anatomy, philosophy, Sanskrit or chanting. It could be an aspect of the physical practice such as inversions, hip openers, postures that focus on the shoulders, or sequences that promote balance.
It is also helpful to reflect on how yoga has helped your own body. Did you live with lower back pain and found that yoga really helps? Yay! Now you can share that story with your students and provide them with anatomy knowledge, intelligent alignment cues and sequences that will help resolve their own lower back pain.
If you have a workshop idea that you are excited about and believe will genuinely help your students grow their practice, then it could be you’re ready to host a workshop. Students will be excited to attend especially if they walk away with empowering takeaways that they can incorporate into their daily lives.
2. You have enough content
Make sure you have enough content to fill at least 3 hours. Again, this isn’t a 60-90 minute group yoga class. Think of a workshop as a mini yoga training. Offer a broad scope of knowledge that can open students up to the wide world of yoga. You can add anatomy content, quotes from yogic texts, sequences for students to practice at home, alignment cues specific to your topic, modifications and variations for different levels.
Keep in mind that you may have a mix of students and teachers who attend. How can you speak to both demographics and relay information that is accessible rather than overwhelming? Even if it is just one gem, what in your content will spark your students’ curiosity and get them excited about yoga? Don’t rush the workshop process. Make sure you feel comfortable with your content. And, again, make sure you feel amped about what you are sharing because your students will feel that and love it!
3. You are ready to market
Workshops require a good deal of marketing. You have to plan and coordinate with your yoga studio (or wherever you decide to hold the workshop) and then go from there. How far in advance do you want to begin marketing your workshop? Do you feel ready to design posters, do social media posts and announce the workshop to your group classes? Map out your marketing strategies before and after your workshop.
One tip I give my trainee groups is to add elements of your workshop into your group classes prior to the date of your actual workshop. Then, at the end of class, you can say something like, “if you liked what we did in class today, then consider coming to my workshop on May 25th because we’ll be exploring this in more depth.”
Post-workshop follow up and marketing is just as important as pre-workshop marketing. Give your students a gift to say thank you for attending and some information on how they can stay in touch with you. Make a small packet or handout that summarizes what they did in the workshop and be sure to put your information at the bottom. You can even include a couple of the poses or key concepts that were covered in the workshop so they remember. Offer tea or treats after the workshop to encourage your students to stay and build community. This is also a great way to converse with your students and hear what they thought of the workshop.
4. You have an established student base to support your workshop
Since it takes a lot of work to plan, market, and organize a workshop, you want to make sure you feel confident that you can bring in enough students to make it worth your while. You can do this by putting out feelers to your students and see who would be interested in coming to said workshop. Take into consideration how the students are coming to your workshop. Are you solely responsible for getting the word out or is your yoga studio also inviting students?
Be prepared to manifest healthy attendance using a tip I learned from 90 Monkeys co-founder, Amy Ippoliti: Print out a mock sign in sheet and write down names of students you hope will attend. You can meditate on your workshop and visualize it filling up and being a huge success.
5. Your students tell you it’s time!
This is probably the most important of the 5 tips…Many times your students will actually ask if you can offer a workshop on a specific subject. If this happens with enough students, you definitely know you’re ready!
As you continue to cultivate a relationship with your students, it is more likely that they will give you feedback or reflect on what they admire about your class. This is a great way to gather specific ideas for workshops. Your students may grasp onto a concept in your class and ask you more about it afterwards.
In your group classes use your keen skills of observation. Notice if there are parts of your class that grab your students’ attention, if you see room for improvement in their movements or postures, or if you catch your student mentioning something they are curious about. For example, if a student expresses that he or she wishes meditation or theming were more prevalent in group classes and you have just been yearning to share that with them. Boom! You’re clearly on the same wavelength and can start making your student’s dreams come true!
What other signs and signals might make a yoga teacher know he or she is ready to offer workshops? Leave a comment below and share ideas with the 90 Monkeys community!
Want to learn more about running workshops and retreats? Take our eCourse with Amy Ippoliti!
About Sarah Diedrick
Sarah Diedrick is a yoga teacher, teacher trainer, and writer who loves to work with people around the globe. Her ultimate goal is to support her students by offering them tools and insights they can carry with them beyond the mat. Sarah is a graduate of the 90 Monkeys 200 Hour Teacher Training and is currently working toward her 500 Hour Certificate with 90 Monkeys. She is known for her thoughtful alignment cues, creative sequencing, and poetic language. Through writing and teaching, Sarah hopes to direct others to the intelligence of the body as a way to feel wildly inspired and alive.