Great businesses are built on great relationships. This was one of the first tips that I learned from books and took as a primary advice from people who had mentored me when starting hosting yoga retreats around the world; it was one of the best insights that I applied, not only from a business perspective but also for personal growth.
While doing my yoga teacher training, we had an open debate about boundaries. The tutors were encouraging the strictly professional relationship between yoga teacher and student, reasoning that teachers should not attempt to be friends, hear students’ problems or accept invitations for coffee after class. I silently disagreed; all the businesses that I have great memories of had a very personal element that made me feel valuable as an individual.
My decision was that the yoga retreats that I was going to be involved with would have a familiar, homey feeling. I aimed to apply my experience as a mother and my memories of when I was being looked after to design the way I was going to approach my clients.
The plan sounded ambitions, but it was easily executed. On my latest yoga retreat in Ibiza, I had a small group of six women attending. This made it easier for me to be attentive to small details such as preparing a cup of tea for someone chilling out in between activities. This little, perhaps obvious and free of cost gesture would make such a difference in our interaction that I took immense pleasure on the feedback I was getting. Their response was a thousand times bigger than my gesture.
In essence, that is part of the 'job'. This could also be seen as a personal interpretation of Bhakti Yoga, or the yoga of devotion. The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which means "to adore or worship God." And God lives in all things, especially in actions and people. Or Karma Yoga (‘selfless service’), one of the Four Paths of Yoga based on the act of offering our services for the benefit of others, purifying the heart and taking us further in our spiritual evolution.
The retreat was filled with women only, most of them mothers, people who care for others and are constantly serving selflessly. When I bought them an unsolicited glass of water or just shared a personal experience at the breakfast table they would immediately relate to, they associated these simple gestures with love. What unspoken words fail to say the body communicates, giving the teacher the ability to assist each attendee individually.
Yoga retreats differ greatly from regular holidays. People come with spiritual expectations. Whether they know it or not, they come to connect with themselves, and the way a retreat is conducted has a positive influence on the participants long after it is finished.
Although I did not offer this in the package, I collected and dropped off most of my clients at the airport. I am not suggesting that this will be possible with every retreat, but my advice to you is that, if you can provide little touches like this, it will add tremendously to your brand and to yourself.
If your budget does not allow these small gestures, think twice. In general, marketing strategies are expensive and with no guarantees. However, a happy client is your best propaganda and nothing says more about your skills than a good, sincere review. It's always easier to maintain a client than to make a new one!
To give a better experience, become a specialist in something
Some teachers are masters teaching pranayamas, others inspire by their ability to guide meditations, others by the way that they teach a particular asana. The only way to find your gift is through practice, observation and feedback. Develop the habit to scan your class and read facial expressions to see what you are doing right, what is it that is giving to your students the joy that they are looking for.
In conclusion, here’s my advice:
It is thanks to the people attending your class/ retreat that your dream is possible. Treat them as divinity!
Forget the protocols
Let the same freedom and passion that made you a yoga teacher determine the relationship that you will have with the world. Contrary to what I had been taught, we are all teachers, students, gurus, psychiatrists, advisers, therapists… If we only allow ourselves and others to be the conductors of what we must learn, only then can we effectively teach, not only to others but also to ourselves.
Are you ready to take the plunge and become a certified yoga instructor? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and choose among hundreds of yoga teacher training courses!