“What kind of yoga do you teach?” It’s the question you will get asked at every turn. Every time you go to a party. Every time you make a new friend. Every time you meet a colleague. I’ve probably had to answer that question about 500 times at this point.
After answering that question many times, I can tell you this: the only answer worse than not having an answer is to say “everything” (and the next worst is saying “vinyasa”). I know it sounds weird. When I first started teaching yoga, I took every job and every client I could get. I adapted myself to the situation at hand so I could learn to be the best teacher I could be. I taught vinyasa yoga to the young and able-bodied in a studio setting, chair yoga to a non-english speaking elderly woman in a private setting and group corporate yoga in a tiny room lined with desks and rolly chairs. I taught meditation to a man with schizophrenia and handstand to a woman while her two dogs and cat ran around.
While I still teach a diverse array of clients, I’ve since honed my party line and the rest of my marketing. I’ve gotten way more specific and plan to get even more specific in the near future. Whether we like it or not, when the answer to that question is “everything,” this is what people hear:
You aren’t an expert in anything
You aren’t really sure what you stand for or what direction you want to go in, in your career
You’re indecisive and wish-y wash-y
You’re probably not the best person to help them with their specific problem because there is an “expert” out there for them
You don’t have anything to offer that every other yoga teacher is already offering
So what do you do? How should you answer this question? I recommend getting as specific as possible and figuring out where you are an expert. Which of your students or situations most resonates with you? Why are you teaching yoga in the first place? What about yoga interests you? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to figure out how you should be presenting yourself to people and who you should be attracting to you.
And before you get up in arms about getting specific, let me just say that getting specific in your marketing doesn’t mean you have to turn down other people who are coming to you for other types of yoga. You don’t have to give up classes or not go for opportunities because they aren’t the ideal fit. Getting specific in your answer just helps people to get to know you and what you have to offer better. And even if your answer isn’t what they are interested in, it tells them that you are professional, have a firm sense of who you are and where you want to go, that you are decisive and knowledgeable about your expertise and that you have a something unique to bring to the yoga world.
I mean, just take these two answers as an example.
Q: “What kind of yoga do you teach?”
A#1: “Oh, I kind of teach a bit of everything.”
A#2: “I teach strength-based mobility and stress-management to high-stress New Yorkers in a one-on-one basis. Many of my clients deal with neck and back pain and I work with them to relieve and reduce their pain.”
Even if I didn’t have back pain or stress, I’d probably want to work with the person who answered #2 than the person with answer #1. Or I would know exactly who to refer to this person after hearing answer #2. Do you get what I mean?
*BTW, answer #2 is my actual (and even then, I know I could refine it and get even more specific). *
I hope this email has gotten you thinking about what unique things you have to offer has a yoga teacher and how to communicate that to the people you want to reach.