I own a small yoga studio in rural West Virginia and know all of my yogis students by name. I truly enjoy the company of each one of them. The people that come to my studio have become friends. Here are 5 tips below on how to foster futher your relationships to your community.
1. Do Not Have a Paper Sign In Sheet for Class – This forces teachers to speak to new students, learn everyone’s name, and remember it for next time. Addressing people by name goes a long way in making them feel welcome.
2. Introduce everyone before class starts – especially if the class is crowded-My studio is in a small town and nine times out of ten people in the class who think they don’t know each other have a connection outside of yoga. I have found that it also makes new people really relax before class starts if I do that.
3. Be Playful – Use Humor-When I cue students to “open up your right hip to prepare for tree pose, “ I usually say something like, “Sass out that right hip like you are 16 and you know everything.” It gets a laugh every time. I usually explain that my daughter is 16 and in case anyone wanted to know she DOES know everything. Speaking of tree pose, if the class is crowded, I will have people extend their hands to grab their neighbor’s hand for balance. Its fun and opens people up.
4. Start a Book Club or other non-yoga related event – I started a Saturday afternoon book club because we just could never stop talking after class because we enjoyed each other’s company so much. It’s a two-hour time that we can get together to talk in a structured way. And, since it is free, it is an opportunity for your students to bring their friends or loved ones. The book club is right before a class so people can stay for yoga afterwards.
5. Be Real – I know this sounds obvious, but I have spent a lot of time with other yoga teachers and still felt like I never knew them. That’s not how I roll. For example, I tell my students that while I love yoga, there are poses I don’t like or practice and others that took me years to be able to get into. Last week as I was getting everyone settled into our restorative class, I asked my class a favor. I said, “I know this has nothing to do with yoga, but I have to pick up the band carpool after class and I am really worried I am going to forget because I have never had to pick up before so if you guys could remind me that would be great.” Everyone laughed and they all reminded me after class to get the band carpool because it was something they could all relate to.