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How to Hold Space for Your Yoga Students

Teaching Yoga | Yoga

I regularly survey our private yoga teacher community for their frustrations, concerns, and burning Q’s. I hear questions from how to sequence private yoga lessons, to how to find consistent private clients. And without fail, I’ll get a question that sounds something like this:

“How do I hold the energetic space for my client during one-on-one sessions, especially if they are newer to yoga?”

The concepts of boundaries, energetics, and self-care are not alien to yoga teachers, but as we start our career as private yoga teachers, these topics become important reminders and practices to maintain in order to hold energetic space for our clients without depleting our own reserve.

Here are the five tips I use and encourage private yoga teachers to adopt when working one-on-one with private yoga clients.

1. Deeply Rooted Self-Care

We yoga teachers get self-care. We understand the benefits and importance of moving our body, sitting in contemplation, and taking time to really unplug disconnect as a tool to connect with ourselves.

But it’s often difficult (and heartbreaking) for us to practice and create rituals around these sacred practices. One of the keys to be available energetically to our clients is to be energetically available to our selves.

Application: Establish a short daily self-care practice and an extended weekly self-care practice to give yourself what you need to fill up your energetic well. Mark them as dates on your calendar, viewing them as your ultimate priority and treating them as you would your teaching gigs and client sessions.

2. Redraw Boundaries

When maintaining boundaries around our time, energy, and who we elect to work with, most of us could handle a bit of refining. Sometimes it feels normal to want to give more or to relax on some elements we’ve clearly carved limits around, so having intentions to match our boundaries is key.

Application: Get curious about your boundaries around time, energy, and ‘saying YES,’ really examining where you leak time, when you feel taxed energetically, and what you chronically agree to even when you know you shouldn’t.

Once you identify where to redraw your boundaries, go ahead and do so. This may look like committing to not working on weekends, promising yourself to only work with perfect-fit clients, or setting a specific time for yourself in between each client to reset and recharge.

3. Set the Tone

Many private yoga teachers simply dive into sessions, jumping into asana without laying the groundwork for the journey ahead. Setting the tone before starting helps you establish roles, ensure trust and support, and begin the work with a clear plan and an overall energy benefiting both client and teacher.

Application: Create a checklist of items to cover at the start of your sessions: an overview of what you’re working on, discussion of homework, stating the intention—whatever you do to set the tone—and practice discussing it a few times.

By setting the tone of the session and taking the seat as teacher, even if you're on their turf, you’ll hold the space for the session and your client’s experience.

4. Keep Some Attention Inside

One of the best tips I’ve heard for staying connected with your own source or energy is to keep some of your attention on the inside while you’re teaching.

For months, I saw private yoga student clients and my private yoga teacher mentorship clients simultaneously. When I brought my attention inward during my mentoring sessions, I realized my energy ebbed and flowed a bit.

I tested out my theory by rotating weeks to meet with private yoga teachers. The internal dialogue allowed me to hold the space for my clients, but also evaluate and adjust.

Application: Have a mental check-in point during your private yoga sessions with clients where you take an inventory of your energy. If you feel like you’re leaking energy, take a brief moment to pause, slow down, and note what’s coming up.

If you need to make an energetic shift while teaching, do so. Otherwise, note what you’re observing, and post-session evaluate how you can shift more into or away from that place during sessions.

5. Have a Moment of Meaning

Just as we start our sadhana (spiritual practice) with a sankalpa (intention), adopt a moment of meaning before each private session.

Having an intention sealed through meditation, mudra, or mantra is a powerful way to connect to your deep why, reminding you of the importance of your work while creating a sacred space for your individualized yoga work.

Application: Start a pre-session meditation, mantra, or pranayama with mudra before you see each client. I like to remind myself that I have value to give, and to ask that I give what needs to be received on that day.

You can have a longer ritual before seeing your clients on that given day, or you can repeat mantra a few minutes on the commute to your client.

Being able to hold space for your yoga students and becoming aware of the energetic impact of your individual work can take time and practice. Allow these tools to help you feel more grounded during sessions, preserve your own energy better, and guide your clients move towards change.

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