The Recipe for a Great Yoga Class

It’s often hard to get constructive feedback from most people. So yoga teachers are pretty much left to their own methods of figuring out how to craft a “good” class and how to figure out how to make a class “better.” Here are some of my top tips for constructing a great yoga class!

-Adrian Brett– 2020 VYC Ambassador – Sidney

Adrian Brett has been an active yoga teacher on Vancouver Island since 2014. He moved to the Victoria area after completing his yoga teacher training in Ottawa. He is extremely grateful to belong to the yoga community here. He has always felt welcome and inspired by the many skilled teachers and students of yoga in Victoria. He has been an active volunteer and ambassador for the Victoria Yoga Conference since 2015 and is excited to return once again to the conference, to share his practice and inspire others to be a part of this great community.

What makes a good yoga class?

This is a question I ask myself a lot. From new teachers just starting out to experienced veterans, it’s a question we often ask of others and yet seldom find a strong answer. When I was just a novice yoga teacher, I would often ask new comers to my class – “what did you think of the class?” The usual response is “it was good,” or “I liked it,” or “I just came for the nap at the end.” It’s often hard to get constructive feedback from most people. Even if they didn’t like your class, they’re unlikely to say, “sorry dude, that class sucked.” So yoga teachers are pretty much left to their own methods of figuring out how to craft a “good” class and how to figure out how to make a class “better.”

In my six years of teaching experience I have learned a few tricks of the trade and I thought I’d take this opportunity to dispense a few tips about how I construct a “good” class. Now this advice won’t necessarily guarantee you get a “financially successful” class, that has more to do with how you market your class, pricing, location, inflation, NAFTA negotiations, etc., etc., but more to do with how you feel about your teaching. I mean money is nice, but feeling good about your class, that’s priceless! So here’s some tips you might want to take home (or to the studio) with you.

1.Do what you like to do. I know the phrase “be authentic” gets hashed around a lot, so I’m putting a new spin on it. You do you. As my favorite Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde put it – “be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Now that doesn’t mean you can’t emulate another teacher’s style; all the best ideas are stolen from somewhere or somebody else, just put your own spin on it – kind of like what I did at the beginning of this paragraph! Basically, the take home message is teach from a place where your personality can shine through. If that place is a trampoline covered in glittery sequins, even better!

2.Play to your strengths. Similar to the above point, you’ll feel better about your class if you teach something that interests you and that you’re excited about sharing with other people. If you’re really into handstands, do an all handstand class – if you’re into backbends, same thing! Energy is tangible and contagious if it’s coming straight from the heart. Work with the natural talents and limitations you were given. If there’s something you really want to share with the world, don’t be afraid to put it out there!

3.A bit of humor always helps. Now, I’m not a very funny guy, so I can’t add too much on this, but I hear people like jokes. Life’s too important to be taken seriously!

4.Failures happen. If you’ve started a new class and it flopped, or you’ve been teaching a class for years and your attendees start to fall away – don’t worry, these things happen. Doing a good class and being a popular class doesn’t always mean the same thing. Even if you  are following points one through three above and you’re not getting anyone to come to your class, don’t despair. Just follow point number five below.

5.Try new things. It never hurts to shake things up once in a while. If you feel like you’re in an endless cycle of being reincarnated in the same form, maybe it’s time for a change. If things aren’t working out the way you hoped, try it from a different approach. Teaching yoga in the West is very similar to any other business undertaking or life endeavor, it doesn’t always work out to be a smashing success for everyone. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take away some useful life lessons from yoga practice and philosophy. 

So there you have it. Five succinct and hopefully useful tips on how to make a good yoga class. Remember, if you’re not having fun teaching yoga, your students aren’t probably having much fun either – and that’s okay, if your true intent is to teach a strictly no fun class (#1 – do what you like to do). However, if you do happen to actually like fun and you also want to feel good about your class, write these tips down or, even better, get them tattooed in Sanskrit on your arm – that’s a joke, don’t do that.