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Creating Your Niche

For many teachers, the path from generalist to specialist is as natural as interweaving yoga with life passions. Here’s how to create and market your own niche yoga classes.

By Tevis Gale

Often the roots of regular teaching remain. Many specialists continue "regular" classes to complement their big picture. "When someone takes my Yoga for Singles retreat, they deepen their relationship with themselves, and then they're off to live their lives," comments Debi DiPeso, owner of Bliss Yoga Center in Woodstock, New York. "Teaching regular classes, I see many students every week, often for many years. The evolution possible with weekly contact is rewarding in a really different way."

It makes business sense as well. Economically, it provides a steady income flow while serving as a great platform for recruitment of participants in your niche offering. Weekly classes are also a laboratory for new ideas and allow for refinement of skills in the art of teaching itself.

Ready, Set, Go

Creating a niche is a passion-driven process, evolving from the study of multiple related topics and their synthesis into something new. Reflecting with gratitude upon her path of intensive study with Indian voice masters, mantra masters, kirtan leaders, and western vocalists, Ann Dyer says, “Eventually, like all really great teachers, we have to take on the task of becoming who we are, to allow that to unfold, rather than mimicking our mentors.” In a tradition that alternately champions transmission from a teacher and affirms the wisdom of each individual, it can be intimidating to give yourself permission to step forward as a niche "expert." Meditation teacher Sally Kempton offers the following self-inquiry for such situations.

  1. Do I have the adhikara (authority) to teach this?
    This refers to the technical knowledge to skillfully address the potential needs of your students. It indicates your foundational understanding of and commitment to yoga and asks if your intention, scope of study, and knowledge in the niche confers authority.

  2. What is appropriate in this circumstance and for these students?
    Teaching is a dance between the knowledge of the teacher and the readiness of the student. Challenge your niche to best serve the needs of the student. For example, though Yoga for Singles could have been yoga speed-dating, DiPeso used it as an opportunity to explore a deeper concept: each student's relationship with him- or herself.

  3. Will sharing my knowledge in this context be emotionally satisfying to me?
    Choosing our teaching environments wisely is less a function of the wallet than a function of the heart. The most glaring need for yoga is not worth addressing if it does not awaken shakti (power) within the teacher; the outcome will be disappointing for all involved.
Be Careful What You Niche

Paul Toliuszis, co-owner of Miami Yoga Shala, has been on both sides of the equation. Within a year of becoming a full-time teacher, he combined his passions by using yoga to enhance his golf performance. A pioneer of vinyasa in south Florida through his classes and teacher trainings, he built a very successful franchise in Yoga for Golf between 1998 and 2004. It included retreats, work with recognized golf professionals, and several highly profitable Yoga for Golf videos.

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