By Jenny Park
Today’s yoga students are constantly changing their wants, needs, and goals. Many studios are ready to employ any type of marketing to retain students, using discount packages or licensed merchandise to entice students to stay. Why do students stick with a particular studio, gym, or teacher when there are so many different options out there? Do they ask if you had the world’s best yoga teacher training or do they value something else?
For some students, price and convenience play a large factor. Students are more likely to stick with a gym that’s between their home or work place, one that offers them a chance to reduce stress levels after a long day’s work. Or, if a student feels as if the price being charged for a studio is fair, they will see coming to the studio as a wise investment in their spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical well being.
For many students, the most important aspect of their relationship to the yoga studio that they attend is the bond of trust they hold with their instructor. Once students find a yoga instructor they like and trust, they tend to follow that instructor wherever he or she teaches. These students will willingly travel to multiple studios in order to take as many yoga classes as possible with their favorite instructor, which forms a bond between the two.
Students feel as if a yoga instructor they respect will also respect where the student is coming from, usually when it comes to the student’s body. Many times students will complain that a teacher will expect the entire class to perform a difficult asana, which can lead new students to attempt a pose that could hurt them. Rather than see this as an opportunity to challenge themselves, beginners will often see this as a sign that the instructor doesn’t care about the student’s individual limitations, and they will avoid the class in the future.
For students who find an instructor they feel as if they “click with,” the familiarity helps them relax into a deeper yoga practice, as the student and teacher walk together to challenge the student within his or her established limits. Once the student feels supported and listened to by the instructor, anxiety lessens, and the opportunity to focus on the spiritual practice begins. The relationship between the two becomes like traditional sage and student relationship where the student continually returns for more knowledge and challenges from the instructor.
Establishing a bond of trust between yoga teacher and student creates a literal place where the student is lovingly guided to expand his or her practice in a safe place. The instructor is vital in creating a safe place, which brings students back again and again as they partner to deepen the student’s practice.
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