The Art and Science of Profitable Private Teaching 

with Francesca Cervero

In this video from our 2013 Business of Yoga Conference, Francesca Cervero shares strategies for running a profitable private yoga practice.

The video above is a preview of Francesca Cervero's talk, "The Art and Science of Profitable Private Teaching." Full-length videos are accessible exclusively to Yoga Alliance members. Log in to your account to watch!

Offering one-on-one instruction can be both personally and financially rewarding. Whether you already have a customer base or are looking to find your first student, these tips will enable you to, as Francesca put it, “reach, teach and keep clients that other yoga teachers can’t.” 

Teaching a private is not the same as teaching a group class and will require you to use different skills. 

  • Unlearn what a yoga class “should” include. Customize your teaching so that it is accessible to your student, even if that means leaving out a dharma theme or savasana. 
  • Bring your warmth, energy and confidence to your client’s space. Unlike in a studio, in a private session you may not be able to rely on candles or incense to create a sacred space, so it is up to you to cultivate one with your personality.
  • Signal that you will be taking care of the client. Your client should not feel compelled to play host. When Francesca visits a new client, she immediately sets an agenda, such as, “I’ll go fill up my water and when I come back I’d like to move these tables to make room for your mat.”

Adjust your teaching according to individual students’ needs so that everyone you instruct will get the most out of yoga.

  • Connect with your client. Even if a student seems unmotivated or unfocused, it is your job to find a way to reach him or her. You should be willing to repeat the same instruction 20 different ways until it makes sense to them.
  • Meet your students where they are. From the moment you walk through your clients’ doors, tap into your intuition and gauge their physical and mental readiness to figure out how you can both support and challenge them in the session.
  • Determine what a client is experiencing in a pose. Students may not be in touch with how their pose feels or should feel, so help them tune in to their body by asking specific and descriptive questions, e.g., “do you feel a stretch in the lower belly and quad?”

Market yourself from the inside-out.

  • Teaching skills are the foundation of your brand. You will gain and retain clients if you offer transformative, even life-changing sessions.
  • Let your clients do your marketing for you. To build a loyal client base, you don’t need to sell people on yourself or even yoga. If your students are satisfied, they’ll want to spread the word about your quality instruction.
  • Reflect on your journey. You will best connect with students whose paths parallel your own. Take time to figure out why you began practicing and teaching yoga—the answers will help you determine which students you can reach better than anyone else.

Be professional. 

  • Start and end sessions on time. Arrive seven minutes early to set up and be ready to begin on time, even if your client is late. Show respect for your client by ending on time.
  • Separate finances from your teaching space. To avoid discussing finances with clients during a session, Francesca recommends sending a monthly invoice.
  • Establish a cancellation policy. Francesca does not refund cancellations within 24 hours of a session. Even though students have complained, they’ve learned to respect her time because she is polite but firm about enforcing her policy.

  • Francesca Cervero has been a full-time private yoga teacher in New York City and Washington, D.C. since 2005. The foundation of her teaching practice comes from OM Yoga Center’s style of alignment-based vinyasa. Her teaching is also inspired by the years she spent in physical therapy, a deep study of anatomy, and the Buddhist writings of Tara Brach. She has a thriving business teaching 25 private clients a week and a full practice teaching and mentoring yoga teachers in the science of the private lesson. 

    For other materials from the 2013 conference, check out our Business of Yoga Resource Center.

    Copyright 2014 by Yoga Alliance