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How to Handle A Yoga Class No-Show (or Low-Show) Situation

We’ve all been there at some point in our yoga teaching career. You know the scenario. You get yourself all prepared to teach class, you’ve got the outfit, got your notes, maybe you have a music play mix all picked out and you even chose a theme for the night. You get in your car ready to serve.

When you get to the studio, the parking lot is empty and you think, “Well, it’s early still.” But the lot never fills up, the bike rack is empty and the front desk looks like a ghost town. You go inside to the studio and wait. It’s show time and…

No. One. Shows.

So many feelings can arise – loneliness, feelings of rejection, inadequacy, relief that you have the night off, anxiety about paying your bills, and even anger at the time slot you have. It’s hard not to take it personally – even if it’s because of the weather or circumstances beyond your control.

And what if only one person shows up? Now you must put all those feelings aside and be there 100% for the kind soul who made the effort to be there. This is not an easy thing to do when all you can think of is your rent or mortgage payment looming around the corner and how after feeding the parking meter, you pretty much paid to teach yoga tonight.

What is the best way to handle these situations?

Most teachers might feel sad and anxious but, being good yogis, will quickly look for the silver lining in the cloud, give their situation a positive spin and make good use of the time.

If no one shows up, it’s a great time to get in your much needed yoga practice. You could also decide that this would be a great time to interact on Facebook or work on your newsletter to help ramp up your promotional efforts so more people will come next time.

If you do get one or two students, now is not the time to lament or let your disappointment show. Your attitude toward the one or two that show up is going to be paramount to the future success of that class!

Remember, the student might feel as badly as you do that no one else came and many students are aware that you made just as much effort to be there in exchange for very little or no compensation.

You’ll want to reassure them that you love the intimate setting and depth that can come from a small session – and let them know they will get a private lesson (or a semi-private if more than one comes)! Although we rely on our classes as part of our income, the highest reason we do this is to help others and we chose to teach yoga because we love what we do. Get in touch with that aim because it’s true.

More than ever, now will be the time to be on your A game– that one student will be the one who tells all of his or her friends to come to your class next week!

Now, this is all well and good, but it is still vital that you look at the underlying issues that are causing the low turn out in the first place. Don’t let yourself go into denial!

Because, let’s face it, low turn out (if not intentional) is not a good use of time for anyone except the student who gets the private lesson – but even that might make them feel uncomfortable if they are expecting to practice in community! The studio does not benefit, nor do you. Therefore, as soon as class is over, take these considerations to heart:

1. Consider how long you have been in that teaching slot with low turnout.

Is the class slow because you just started teaching in that slot fairly recently? It’s normal for a new class to take 3-6 months to attract a turn out. Or have you been in that slot for over 3-6 months with no luck?

If you’ve been at it for a while in this slot with no luck it could be that the time is not convenient for students, the class takes place opposite a more desired class, or your teaching and interaction skills need improvement. Look into the most popular times people in the neighborhood do their exercise, and make a note of what else is offered nearby that could be pulling students away. Consider getting honest feedback from another teacher in your community and be open to listening to what your studio manager has to say about your teaching if they have received feedback about you.

2. Are you filling your classes better in other time slots?

If you are filling your classes well in your other teaching slots, then the low turnout time slot is probably just not a great time for your students! However if all of your classes are getting the same low number results, it’s time to look at what you can do to improve in the following areas:

  • Your “model teaching container” (Are you keeping up your practice and self care? Are you managing your personal finances well? Do you manage your time well? Have you analyzed your teaching schedule to make sure it is optimal? Do you have a mission statement about why you teach yoga? Are you contributing to your community or to the causes that matter to you the most?)
  • Your teaching and interaction skills (Are you personable, friendly and conversational with your students, do you learn their names and attempt to get to know them? Do you need to take a teacher training or go on retreat to brush up your skills?)
  • Your marketing, promotion and personal brand (Are you never emailing your people about where and when you teach? Are you lurking on Facebook but never posting? Is your personal brand unclear? Are you conflicted or confused about teaching yoga in exchange for money? Are you conflicted about self-promotion?)
  • Your belief and visualization skills (Do you expect low numbers? Are you visualizing your classes filling with a lovely community of yogis?) Where do you see room for improvement?
  • By all means, keep your attitude in check and make good use of the time when you experience a yoga no-show or low-show, but get to the bottom of the low turnout as soon as you can and take action to change course. Otherwise you risk yoga teacher burnout (as in this video!) which we do not wish on any yoga teacher (or their students).

Now it’s your turn to join the conversation. Have you experienced the Yoga No-Shows? What have you done in that situation? Leave a comment below and let’s talk!

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