As a yoga teacher its always rewarding seeing your student progress and master poses, they once struggled with.
It’s equally rewarding seeing them connect with new people and grow as a person. Possibly even moving these friendships outside the studio.
For me this is one of the greatest benefits of yoga, bringing together like-minded individuals who all have the power to help each other.
Sometimes these friendships are inevitable and can start right away. Others may need a slight nudge from a teacher. Either way, you can help create a great yoga community which will benefit you and your students.
When Firefly Yoga was still a brainchild thing, I knew I wanted to do was create a sense of community. Having lived in Scotland and travelled around the UK a lot I know that the South Wales Valleys have a pretty unique sense of community.
Everyone says hello to everyone regardless of whether you know them. We chat to people in queues, people are very friendly and always willing to help others. I wanted to bring that sense of welsh community to my studio while giving it its own unique yogi vibe too. Whilst I’ve only been running my own studio for around 18 months, I feel I have made some great progress in creating my own yogi community.
Below are my best tips and examples of how I’ve built my yoga community.
1. Create a warm and welcoming environment
The vibe of your studio is so important. I’m really happy with the way Firefly Yoga turned out.
We have soft lighting and padded flooring, which creates a relaxed and comfortable environment. Being a hot yoga studio as well means I can always keep the studio nice and cosy on a winter’s day.
Creating a relaxing, homely environment will allow your students to feel relaxed and allow them to open up.
There always the fundamentals as well like keeping your studio clean and tidy.
2. Try and separate your yoga space and your checking in space
I know this might not be feasible for everyone, but this separation has helped so much.
Having a check in area away from where the classes take place provides a general meeting point where students can meet before classes.
They will always know someone will be there who they can talk to.
It also allows them to speak more freely, whether it’s about me, other classes they enjoy, or just general life stuff.
It’s almost liked a safe space before they know they have to switch off and into yoga mode and concentrate for an hour.
It’s great seeing them all talking to each other, I always feel guilty when I have to shush them so we can start!
3. Having a relaxed class atmosphere
This is another aspect of Firefly Yoga that I pride myself on. While I know it won’t be for all teachers it feels very authentic to me.
I have a very relaxed class atmosphere. Very relaxed.
I don’t require silence while we practice, I encourage students to ask questions throughout the class rather than waiting until the end.
Last but certainly not least we laugh while we practice. There’s no tension or judgement.
I believe this also makes my students feel very relaxed. They can be themselves, the can express themselves and I am being myself.
4. Show off your community
Again, this may not be for everyone, and it will depend if your students would be up for a bit of fun!
This is a new addition to Firefly Yoga and it was a lot of fun. We recently held our first Real Yogis photoshoot.
Students volunteered to come in for an hour and be part of the photoshoot. We did some yoga poses, had some photos taken and then finished with tea and cupcakes.
Most people don’t like having their photos taken, but I loved the fact they volunteered. It’s another shared experience I have with my students that’s strengthen our relationship.
I will use these photos on social media, my website, where ever.
5. Organise Non-yoga events
A great way to solidify your community is to try and continue to build the relationships outside of the studio.
Non-yoga events are a great way for students to enjoy spending time with their yoga friends in a different setting.
I organised a Firefly Yoga Christmas meal last December which was a great success and a really nice opportunity to get to know people better.
I know other studios organise pot luck dinners, head to local bars after classes on Fridays, whatever works for you and your students.
6. Learn your student’s names
Sounds simple but it goes a long way.
I see around 200 students a week and take pride in the fact that I know all their names. Not to say I don’t occasionally have mind blanks like everyone else.
I think this make them feel special and appreciated and who doesn’t want that?!
7. Take an interest in them as people
Following on from the point above – take an interest in what your students tell you about themselves.
If they tell you about an upcoming holiday or event they are going to ask them how it was when they get back etc.
Again, it makes them feel special and valued which fosters great student-teacher relations.
On the flip side of this there are students that I don’t know that well and don’t share much about their lives. That’s cool too – I don’t pry.
8. Be relatable
Last but not least, be relatable.
Just like students share snippets of their lives with you, share a little of your life with them.
I recently shared some pictures of my wedding on the studio Facebook page and if I have a weekend off. I always share what I’ll be up while the studio is closed.
I also make sure to show that I’m a real person too, sharing blooper videos of pose practices that didn’t quiet go to plan etc.
I hope you find these tips useful and inspiring, if you use any of the ideas, I would love to hear how it went. If you have any other ideas please leave them in the comments below.