Discover How I Applied The 8 Limbs Of Yoga
To Go From 5 To 25 Students


I’m always brainstorming ways to create yoga class plans that WOW my students.    

But it wasn’t always that way.

To be honest, I used to be incredibly dull with my yoga lesson planning.  That’s dull with a big capital D!  The reason for this abundance of Dullness was because I was trying to teach like a traditional, left brain, archetypal, stereotypical yoga teacher. I made the mistake of copying other yoga teachers that I respected and the result was that students would leave my yoga classes in their droves, never to return.

I had to face facts

attendance folderAnd the looming, inescapable fact slapping me across the face was that my classes were…

….what’s the word I’m looking for…Dull.

I had to find a cunning way to compete with Pilates and Zumba classes.  At the dance studio where I host my yoga classes there is a Pilates and Zumba class.  A few years back, if I wanted to torture myself with a quick dose of reality, I would flip open the dreaded Attendance Folder that everyone using the hall had to fill out, and take a peek at the pilates class numbers (usually around 20 to 30 students), then if I thought I had been particularly wicked over the past week, and in need of more open-eyed reality, I would flip to Wednesday and see the class numbers for Zumba (usually 50 to 60).  Then, if I wanted yet more reality, I would flip to the previous week for my yoga class and see “5 or 6”.   Then my little brain would go “click, whirr, click, click, whirr” before the calculation said something like:  “Wow,  George, take a look at that.  That there Zumba class is getting ten times more students than your yoga class.”  (this is the polite version of what my brain actually said).

I know.

I know what you’re about to say.

Oh, George you shouldn’t see it as a competition.  That’s very unyogic of you.”

And I humbly beg to disagree.

Here’s why…

Most yoga teachers limp along with low class numbers and delude themselves into thinking this “acceptance” is somehow wonderfully yogic and spiritual.  Yet, if the yoga teacher stopped practicing asanas (which is just a poultry 1/8th of yoga according to good old Patanjali, author of the 8 limbs of yoga) and actually put the 8 limbs of yoga into practice, they’d begin to see the low class numbers as it really is, instead of through rose tinted glasses.

Low class numbers is a warning sign.

Low class numbers is unsustainable.

Low class numbers will soon cause you to say something like this when someone calls you up to inquire about your yoga class, “Sorry, but my yoga class has stopped forever and ever, but I’ve heard the Zumba class is pretty good.”


Here’s How I Applied The 8 Limbs Of Yoga
To Go From 5 to 25 Students In My Yoga Classes


Just in case you still think accepting low class numbers and being humble is the yogic way, here’s how I practiced the 8 limbs of yoga to help go from 5 to 25 students per class.

5th Limb

The 5th limb of yoga (pratyahara) teaches us to focus on “one thing at at time“.  And I was focusing on “one thing” – the untarnished truth that my yoga classes were spectacularly unsustainable.

2nd Limb

I was practicing the second limb of yoga (santosha) because I was “content regardless of the outcome“.  I would happily teach the yoga class even if only one student turned up.   Why?  Well, because I enjoy teaching yoga and I’m not motivated by having loads of money.

I wasn’t practicing the tapassecond limb of yoga (disciplined use of our energy) because I had willingly allowed my yoga class to become unsustainable.  A disciplined use of my energy would be to make my classes more appealing –  instead of the dry, old fashioned, left brain teaching I was dishing out to my students.

I was also practicing  svadhyayasecond limb of yoga (self study).  A svadhyaya practice is any activity that cultivates self-reflective consciousness.  It means to intentionally find self-awareness in all our activities and efforts, even to the point of welcoming and accepting our limitations. Svadhyaya teaches us to burn out self-destructive tendencies. By accepting my limitations (low class numbers), I was able to burn one of my self-destructive tendencies (boring my students with run-of-the-mill yoga classes) by focusing on creating yoga lesson plans with interesting yoga class themes.

1st Limb

And I wasn’t practicing aparigraha, first limb of yoga (take only what is necessary) because I was taking “way, way, way less than what is necessary” to sustain a yoga class. To become a full time yoga teacher I had to allow myself to take more money, or close my yoga classes forever.  That meant taking on at least 15 to 25 students per class.  Anything less and I wouldn’t be able to sustain my classes and my students would have to go to a pilates or zumba class.

So, let’s recap

I was getting an eye watering 10 TIMES less students than the Zumba lady.

And if I didn’t change something soon, I would soon trudge wearily over to the graveyard of “Yoga Teacher’s Who’ve Died Of Low Class Numbers”, lay down and let the yoga teacher within die.  But, by putting the 8 limbs of yoga into practice (pratyahara,  santoshatapassvadhyaya and aparigraha) my little brain said something like…

That’s it.  No more!  Within 3 months I’m going from 5 to 25 students per class.”

And within 3 months I had 25 students per class.

You see, necessity is the mother of all inventions.  My necessity was to grow healthy, sustainable yoga classes instead of a wilting, unsustainable ones.  And that’s why I spent over 1000 hours of my life creating the Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.  My intention was to create a yoga teaching tool-bag filled with 100’s of yoga lesson planning tips, tools and templates that I could use to build interesting yoga lesson plans.  As I said before (I think it’s worth mentioning twice), I spent a whopping 1000 hours slaving away to create the Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.  If did it only for myself it wouldn’t have been a “disciplined use of my energy” (tapas).  But, in the back of my mind I knew yoga teachers all over the World would also reap the benefits of those 1000+ hours of hard work.  Now several years on, my classes are still full and over 1000 yoga teachers worldwide are using the Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.

What’s the moral of this story?

Not sure?

But next time you’re teaching, I dare you…no, I double dare you to pick up the attendance folder and look under “Z” for Zumba.  Once you’ve made a mental note of the whopping number of students coming to the Zumba class, glance over at the 5 or 6 students looking at you expectantly from their bright, sticky mats…glance back at the attendance folder, and then say something like this…

That’s it.  No more!  Within 3 months I’m going from 5 to 25 students per class.”

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George Watts

BWY Yoga Teacher at George Watts Yoga
This post was lovingly morphed into reality by BWY yoga teacher, George Watts. If you're looking for a treasure trove of yoga lesson planning goodness, take a quick peek at Yoga Teacher Lesson Plan Kit.

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