Learning and teaching one-on-one

I had my first one-on-one session with my new client, K, on Tuesday night and we had a blast. I had never met her before, except over email, so we took the first session to just get to know each other.

Honestly, I really don’t know how to teach one-on-one. I’ve never done it before and I’ve never taken a one-on-one class. It will be a learning experience for both of us.

K claimed she was rusty and hadn’t practiced yoga for a few years, but her practice looked strong and beautiful to me. She’s going to be fun to work with, and I will be able to alter my teaching style, dropping almost all of my “beginner” cues and modifications that are second nature to me now, using them only as occasional reminders. I look forward to exploring some deeper poses with her, which I haven’t really gotten a chance to do in my other classes.

The most challenging thing about the one-on-one part will be finding a comfortable layout for the room. The sessions are at her house and she has a nice-sized space, big enough for two yoga mats facing the same direction. For our first class we practiced side-by-side. Since we were just meeting, I didn’t want to creep her out by staring her right in the face for an hour (and I won’t dream of adjusting her until we get comfortable with each other).

Teaching on my mat right next to her has two distinct advantages: 1) it’s hard for me to see her alignment without craning my neck and making it obvious I’m checking her out, 2) she can’t see me as clearly as she could if I were in front of her, so if one of my cues is confusing, it disrupts the flow of the practice for her to check out what I am doing.

In time, I’m sure I’ll find a balance between getting quick peeks out of the corner of my eye, and coming out of the pose to check her alignment. As long as I keep her comfort my top priority, it will work itself out.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity : )



7 responses to “Learning and teaching one-on-one

  1. When I teach one on one I see it as a place for the student to learn the postures and then go home and practice them. So, that means I show her each posture and then she does it, meaning I can correct her properly while observing her the whole time. Then I give her a sequence on paper (this is where stick men come in!!!) to take home and practice. A one on one isn’t really like a class. There won’t be any flow or anything, it’s the nature of the beast. The flow comes on her mat at home. And then come the next session I start with asking how she got on when practicing alone.

    That’s just how I teach them. Hope it helps a bit. One on one is a super special experience but it can be really daunting. I hated it at first, now I love it more than group teaching.

    (NB – this comes from a teacher who, on the whole, doesn’t teach by demonstration. )

  2. I like Rachel’s teaching concept. Mine is similar. I too LOVE one-on-ones more so than group classes. They are just so much more personal. My certification is in Integrative Yoga Therapy and that was the focus. For my first session, I often do a body “scan” with them to determine weaknesses and tendencies in habitual holding. Get her thinking about that. She’ll see it over time if she doesn’t already. I also demonstrate poses and come out to observe and adjust. It may feel odd at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. You may also dialogue with her about “touch” and try out some adjustments. One-on-one would be a great place to do it and get comfortable! Good luck! Can’t wait to hear about your ongoing journey! ;-)

  3. As you know, I am big on adjustments and I use them in my one-on-one classes as much if not more than in a group class! That said I think you are right to take your time and get comfortable with each other. Like Heather suggests, I would point out the pink elephant by just asking outright – that way it’s not hanging over you both – you wondering what she expects, her wondering if you are going to adjust her or not. :)

    I teach some private sessions that are designed as practice sessions (for people who don’t have a personal practice), and those ones I teach much like a regular class, but tailored to the individual as I get to know them and as they discover ares of the body they want to work on. I also teach therapeutic sessions where I keep a flow designed to build breath awareness and overall body love and confidence, all the while generating a healing relationship around the affected area.

    But when a student has her own practice and is just looking for tips and touch-ups, it can be nice to design a class around their needs: discussing the anatomical and energetic elements of the poses they struggle with, doing some warm ups for those key muscles, and then letting them do the pose while adjusting and helping them get into the flow.

    I’m so happy for you!! This is so fun!! Yay!!!! :D (I get so enthusiastic about how much fun teaching is. ;) ) Yep, I’m a #yogadork!!

  4. Your one-on-one experience made me think of having a one-on-one with a yoga trainer. But unfortunately, I don’t have any experience on yoga yet but I’m willing to learn. I hope I can find someone as patient as you. :)

  5. Thank you so much for your thoughts ladies, it has really made me examine my plans. I do teach by demonstration and it’s scary for me to think about teaching without it, but I need to gradually work towards that, I think. I really appreciate the new perspective you’ve brought to my approach!

  6. So glad to read a discussion about one on one sessions. I too got my first client last winter and didn’t know what was going to happen. I tried to find books or blogs giving tips on how it’s done but found nothing. My first student didn’t want to get into meditation or spirituality, or even learn pose names, etc. She just wanted to to yoga and get adjustments and work on her problem areas. So my experience wasn’t the typical one in my opinion. I look forward to hearing more about this subject!

  7. Just came across your post and I thought Rachel had a really good point. If I were a student that’s probably how I would want to make the most of my sessions. I have yet to teach private one-on-one sessions but I see it coming hopefully in the near future, so I will keep this in mind. Now that it had been a while, do you have any updates on your experience teaching one-on-one?

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