How to successfully grow your group yoga classes

By Hannah Moss

Group yoga classes

For most yoga teachers, weekly group classes are at the core of their business. But it's easy to get this wrong. Discover how to organise and market your classes for the best results.   

Welcome to the second article in our ‘Running a successful yoga business’ series. If you’ve read our introductory article How to run a profitable yoga business, you’ll know the importance of having the right mindset, finding a balance between working IN and ON your business, and managing your income vs costs. 

In our first article, we identified 7 potential revenue streams that a profitable yoga business could focus on. They are:

  1. Weekly group classes
  2. Private 1-to-1 classes
  3. Workshops
  4. Retreats
  5. Teacher trainings
  6. Digital products
  7. Physical products

In this series of articles, we’ll take a deeper dive into each of the sources of income mentioned above, to explore the best ways to set up and run them well, to ultimately get more bums on mats. 

First up is one of the most obvious bread-and-butter providers for most yoga teachers: group yoga classes. So, let’s dive in…       

Benefits of regular group yoga classes 

Here are some of the key benefits of running regular group yoga classes, which we’ll look at in more detail below:  

  • Students make progress
  • Students are more committed 
  • You can build relationships with your students
  • Rewarding and satisfying as a teacher 
  • Creates regular income 

As any seasoned yoga practitioner knows, yoga works best when practised regularly. Of course, going to a few classes here and there is better than going to no classes at all. But the real magic starts to unfold once you’ve been practising for a while and on a regular basis. In fact, many yoga teachers end up teaching after completing a training course, from a desire to go deeper into their practice, rather than from an explicit intention to actually teach.

As many yoga teachers will tell you, there's nothing more rewarding or satisfying than seeing a student’s progress after working closely with them for many weeks, months or years. And, by progress, we don’t mean getting ‘good’ at yoga, because what does that even mean? Progress means different things to different people, but could include building strength, improving flexibility, increasing range of motion, learning to manage a mental health issue, feeling calmer and less stressed or healing from an injury.

Running weekly group yoga classes – whether in-person or online – is a great way to build relationships with your students, as you foster trust, authority, support and inspiration. All of which goes both ways, of course. Most teachers learn just as much from their students as their students learn from them. Rather than the usual academic hierarchy of teacher > student, teaching yoga can be seen as a more collaborative and interdependent relationship, where knowledge and wisdom flows in both directions

Rewarding commitment for group yoga classes

Running group yoga classes requires a great deal of commitment – from both you as a teacher and from your students. When you’re first starting out, you need to make a commitment to teaching the classes you’ve set out to teach. Even if no-one comes at first, or you only get 1 or 2 students, you need to commit to showing up week after week. As long as you’ve got the right setup (which we’ll get into shortly), the students will eventually come. But you need to put your committed energy out there, to show your potential students, yourself and the Universe that you mean business!    

Once you start getting a few committed students, don’t forget to nurture them. A lot of yoga teachers make the mistake of putting too much focus on trying to get more and more new students. But, what about the students who are already committed? Non-committed newcomers aren’t going to experience the magical benefits of yoga. So, rather than wasting your time and energy trying to convince people who are on the fence about yoga, your goal as a business owner should be to reward commitment, so you can allow yoga to really do its work

There are many ways you can reward commitment in your students: from offering a discount for block booking, i.e. class passes which act as a loyalty scheme; to setting up a membership programme; to running special events just for regulars; to offering discounts on workshops and retreats; and other special offers.     

What about beginners?       

So, what about beginners who aren’t sure yet if yoga is for them? Of course, we’d argue that everyone would benefit from yoga! But, there’s a fine line between gently encouraging someone towards a practice they’d really benefit from and trying to pressure someone into a practice they’re really not convinced by. One of your jobs as a yoga teacher is to learn how to intuit which camp your beginners fall into

It usually works best to have a separate offering for beginners, so you can give them the individualised, personal attention they need. You might run regular beginners classes, a beginners course or private 1-to-1 sessions designed specifically for newbies. Once they’ve completed the beginners programme, they can then join the main group when they feel ready. Again, this might require some gentle coaxing and reassurance from you as their teacher.        

Don’t take it personally 

If we strip down to the basics, there are 2 main reasons why students will go to a particular in-person yoga class: 

  • They love the teacher
  • They love the location  

Of course, they love the yoga too! That goes without saying. But, we’d go so far as to argue that the teacher is actually more important than the style of yoga or teaching being offered. Personally, unless it’s a very specific style of yoga I want to practise, I’ll choose a class based primarily on the teacher. 

Hannah Moss, Queen of Content

“If there’s something I don’t like about the teacher, perhaps something about the language they use, their attitude to teaching, the way they speak to the group, the way they relate to me personally, or how they demonstrate their experience and wisdom, then I’m unlikely to go back.”

Based on this, it would be hard not to take it personally as a teacher! But it’s worth remembering the saying, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time”. You and your teaching will resonate with some students but not with others. It’s pointless trying to convert them; it’s far better to let them go and focus on those who are engaged with your teaching, by rewarding their commitment. There are a plethora of reasons why someone might come to a class once or twice, then not come back, and you may never find out why.     

Once you do build up your class capacity, it can be easy to get carried away. For example, if you have one regular class that’s full, be careful about splitting it into 2 classes, as there’s a risk of diluting them into 2 classes that are only half-full. If you have a regular class that’s overbooked, try to gauge the actual demand before starting another offering. Otherwise, you risk doubling your expenses but bringing in the same amount of revenue.

Location, location, location!    

The other main reason students will come to your group yoga classes is because of the location. Most people do what’s convenient for them. And in order to commit to regular classes, convenience is key. Would you spend time and effort on a long or difficult journey just to get to a class you enjoy? Or, more to the point, could you keep this up for an extended period of time? 

Location is a powerful factor, so promoting your classes in the local area can be an important marketing strategy. Are there shops, cafes or community centres nearby where you can display your posters and flyers? Is there a local newsletter or magazine you could advertise in? Are there local forums or Facebook groups you could join? 

Setting up group yoga classes on your website

Ok, so we’ve looked at some of the key benefits, strategies and mindset to adopt when running group yoga classes. What about the actual setup, booking and payment process? Let’s get into the nitty gritty! 

Keep it simple

Firstly, you should have 2 primary focus points when it comes to your website and marketing: 

  • Ease of use 
  • Commitment  

Yes, there’s that commitment word again! These 2 focus points are closely interlinked. The easier it is to use your website and book your classes, the more students are likely to commit to a regular practice (assuming they already love the teacher and location, of course!). We can’t stress enough the importance of keeping things simple. And that means: a clean website structure; clear calls-to-action; a simple pricing structure; and a straightforward booking process. 

So many yoga teachers fall into the trap of wanting to offer all things to all people and end up with lots of similar but overlapping class descriptions, a complicated pricing structure and a hard-to-use booking system. So, simplicity is key when following our suggested steps below. 

1. Classes landing page

However you structure your website, you’ll need a dedicated landing (or sales) page for your group yoga classes. Here’s what that landing page should include:  

Clear messaging

At the top of this page, you should start with clear messaging that highlights the WHY – why students should come to your classes; what you personally bring as a teacher; what makes your classes different. 

Intro text

You might need some introductory text explaining how your classes work, information about the venue, or about your approach to teaching. Remember to keep this as brief as possible! 

Timetable

Your class schedule or timetable should be clearly visible as close to the top of the page as possible (hence keeping your intro text concise). Depending on whether you’re using a manual or automated booking system, and how much other content needs to go on your landing page, you might decide to feature your timetable on a separate dedicated page. This often makes sense if you’re using an embedded widget from a third party booking system. 

If you’re using an embedded widget, this will include built-in links to the actual booking pages. If you’re using a custom-built timetable, you’ll need to add buttons or text links to the booking or payment screens and ensure you regularly test that these are working correctly.         

Class descriptions

It’s a good idea to include brief descriptions of your different classes, if relevant, so newcomers can make informed decisions about which classes to try.  

Pricing

Depending on how you’ve organised your pricing structure, you could feature the details on your classes landing page, or you could link to a separate prices page. See below for more on this. 

Terms & Conditions

It’s a good idea to include some T&Cs about your group yoga classes, particularly around bookings, payments, class pass validity, refunds and cancellations. Again, keep these as clear and concise as possible. Depending on the length of this content, you could include your T&Cs at the bottom of your classes landing page, or on a separate dedicated page. 

Links and CTAs

A CTA (call-to-action) is an action you want your visitors to take. This usually takes the form of a button or CTA panel. Examples of links and CTAs you might need to add to your landing page include:

  • Timetable/schedule (if displayed on a separate page)
  • Prices (if displayed on a separate page)
  • Terms & Conditions (if displayed on a separate page)
  • Private 1-to-1 classes (if offered)        
  • Workshops (if offered) 
  • Contact page (for any enquiries)  

2. Pricing structure 

Remember: simplicity is the key! We see so many yoga teachers offering complex pricing, including free trials, drop-ins, class passes, weekly passes, monthly unlimited, concession rates, etc., etc. Before starting out, it’s important to think carefully about what you want to offer and why. And remember it’s always a good idea to reward commitment.

3 is the magic number, so if you can keep your primary pricing structure to just 3 items, this will be easy for you to manage and easy for your students to understand. Of course, it is possible to offer more options than this, but it then becomes essential to use visual hierarchy in your typography and design to clearly display the different options available.   

Here’s an example of how we used visual hierarchy to clearly display Ravi Yoga’s prices: 

Group yoga classes: Ravi Yoga prices

And here’s how we designed Space Yoga’s pricing panels to clearly show the different options available:  

Group yoga classes: Space Yoga prices

Try to keep your pricing as consistent as possible. For example, if you offer a concession rate, can this be a single percentage discount off your standard prices? If your classes are different lengths, consider whether you need to offer different prices based on duration. Or can you keep all your classes to a consistent length and therefore a consistent price?     

3. Booking process 

As a teacher offering group yoga classes, you’re going to want to automate your booking and payment process. Designing a bespoke system is usually complicated, expensive and not very scalable. There are already plenty of good pre-built versions out there that are designed to handle everything you could need, such as capacity, locations, teachers, payments, refunds, etc. 

Using an automated system increases your visibility in terms of bookings, so you know who’s coming, you can contact them if you need to (only via transactional emails, not marketing emails unless they’ve specifically opted in) and you can track attendance and growth.    

There are 3 types of booking system you can choose from: 

  • Third-party booking system
  • Booking system built in to a web platform
  • Studio’s own booking system  

Third party booking system

There are many pre-built systems out there, many of which are well-known, like MindBody, Momoyoga or Acuity Scheduling. And there are newcomers to the market all the time too. These vary massively in terms of features available and monthly cost, and we took a closer look at some of these in How to create exceptional yoga studio websites

Most of these platforms will allow you to embed a timetable and booking widget onto a page of your website. We’d always recommend doing this, as you want to keep visitors on your own website for as long as possible, rather than sending them to an external platform. The amount of control you have over the design of the widget can vary, however, and sometimes it’s better to design your own timetable and just include links to the specific classes from there. See below for examples of these different options on some of our own clients’ websites.    

Booking system built in to a web platform

Several website builders, such as Squarespace and Wix, now include built-in booking systems. This means you can manage both your website and booking process from the same place. It also means you don’t need to get involved with embedding widgets or designing timetables, as it’s all integrated. 

This may be a more affordable way of building a website and setting up a booking system, especially if you’re just starting out as a yoga teacher. But, be aware that you’ll probably have less control, less flexibility and fewer customisable elements than having, say, a WordPress website connected to a third party booking system. 

One of the ways in which many of these platforms fall short is around SEO (search engine optimisation). There’s no point offering group yoga classes if no-one can find out about them online! Again, having a WordPress website – that’s fully optimised based on actual keyword research – is one of the best things you can do for your organic search results. 

Studio’s own booking system    

This option will only apply if you’re offering classes from someone else’s studio and the studio handles all the bookings. It’s worth considering if this is something you want to explore as a yoga teacher, though, as it can be a great way to reduce your own admin time, whilst being promoted by the studio. 

Of course, this will depend on the studio’s own structure and process, though, and how they handle paying their teachers. Some studios pay you based on the number of students who attend each class, some pay a flat rate, some let you rent the room and take your own payments, and some charge a monthly fee regardless of the number of classes you offer.     

If you do run your classes through a studio, it’s still essential to display your timetable, class descriptions and pricing info on your own website, ideally with booking buttons linking directly to the relevant pages on the studio’s website. Don’t simply link to their homepage, otherwise you’re making your students work much harder than they’re usually willing to, to navigate to the correct page! Again, you can see examples of this option below.      

Examples of our clients’ class setups          

The Yoga Spot

Michele at The Yoga Spot uses Momoyoga for her class bookings. We embedded the timetable widget on her website and customised it using her brand colours:  

Group yoga classes: The Yoga Spot timetable

SPACE Yoga

Dee at SPACE uses Acuity Scheduling for her class bookings. Due to the way Acuity works, and the fact that Dee wanted a visually appealing timetable on her website, we custom designed this, rather than using an embedded widget. Each of the booking links goes directly to that class by opening a page in a new tab (very important!):    

Group yoga classes: Space Yoga timetable

Sacred Jade Yoga

All the classes offered by Sacred Jade Yoga are bookable through the Body Electric studio. We designed a class schedule for her with buttons linking to Body Electric:   

Group yoga classes: Sacred Jade timetable

You've got this!

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to setting up group yoga classes as a teacher. But it’s far better to consider all your options at the start and decide how and what you want to offer, before launching your classes. Of course, you can adjust and refine the details as you go along and get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, but the more planning you can do at the start, the better.   

And, as long as you remember your 2 focus points – keep it simple and reward commitment – you can’t go far wrong. Hang in there, keep showing up to teach and don’t take it personally when people don’t come back to class. You've got this!    

If you need some guidance with setting up your group yoga classes, and how to set up your website and marketing to best support you, get in touch. We’d love to help.  

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