Yay! As the weather is heating up, you’ll soon be able to take your practice outside and delight your yogis with classes in the fresh air and in the sun. ☀️
Are you planning to offer outdoor classes? Are you wondering where to start? We’ve got you covered. With this guide, we’ll take you through in-depth challenges and solutions to teaching outdoors, communicating with your yogis, and setting things up with Momoyoga. We are here to help you get prepared and set up, to teach brilliant outdoor classes.
May the tips and tricks in this article guide you through this process. Let’s take your practice outside!
Namasté 🙏 The Momoyoga Team
Your yoga business has the potential to become a powerfully positive part of your students’ lives. Momoyoga is a simpler and easier way to manage your yoga classes, bookings, payments, and yogis all in one place.
Part one: It's all about communication
Find the perfect spot
Whether your studio is located in a city center or in a secluded area: Teaching outside can be a great experience. Both for you and your yogis! Nevertheless, finding the perfect spot may take some creativity on your part. Teaching on a roof, in a parking lot, a nearby park, or wherever! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you do not have such facilities near your studio, go and spot a location that suits your type of practice best.
Note: Make sure to check the maximum allowed capacity and the regulations on teaching outdoors in public spaces. As regulations vary per country, region, and date, please frequently check your local government’s website for any developments here. What could be regulation today, can change over the course of just a week.
Reach out to your yogis
This is the perfect time to reach out to your yogis. Sending an update on your studio’s current status. What have you been working on, what are you doing now and which precautions have you taken upon teaching outside? Take this occasion to share your excitement about taking your practice outside and to inform your yogis about coming classes, a new schedule you may have, and the location of your outdoor classes. Also, think about wardrobe recommendations. Should your yogis bring a warm pair of socks, a sweater, or maybe even a blanket to enjoy savasana to end the practice with?
Share your location
When teaching in different locations, or on a remote location from your studio, it might be useful to share your location online with your yogis. You can do so in the class description in Momoyoga, or by using the designated Location field. If you need to switch locations last-minute, or if you are not sure if the location is available and suitable for that specific moment, you’ll be able to share your live location with your yogis. For example via Whatsapp.
Hygiene comes first
To make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe in joining your practice outside, you may choose to facilitate hygienic measures. For instance, have a sanitizer or disinfectant station with you and request yogis to clean their hands upon joining your class.
Other considerations on hygiene: Do you want to provide yoga mats or ask your yogis to bring their own? What about equipment such as blocks, straps, and towels? If you teach near your studio and if you have dressing rooms, showers, and such facilities, it may be recommended to keep these closed until further notice (depending on your local regulations). Actively communicate this, so that your yogis will arrive in their yoga outfits and are ‘ready to rock’ upon arrival. Minimize toilet use by only having a single toilet available.
1.5 meter, 6 foot, make space!
It’s everywhere: Keep your distance. It may take some thought on how you’ll facilitate a safe practice outside. Can you position the yoga mats in such a way that the 1.5 meter or 6-foot distance is respected? If your yogis need to enter your studio space to reach your open-air location of the class, you probably want to prevent people from crossing each other in hallways. It may be best to guide the yogis through your venue by creating a walking route or by putting up signs.
Some teachers swear by verbal cueing, others by hands-on physical adjustments during the asana practice. Whether you are the type of teacher that prefers one of the above, or both, is completely up to you. Possibly, you’re used to walking around during certain poses. Helping your yogis on their way. Today, this might not be possible. A quite simple solution here is to apply a card or piece of paper/wood to each mat. Stating simply ‘I am ok to be touched’ / ‘I do not want to be touched’. For the yogis to flip this over before class starts.
If you as a teacher prefer not to do adjustments at this time, you might want to focus on elaborating the verbal cues during classes. Good verbal cueing is an art. Using speech to get your yogis to move efficiently through their practice. To deepen their poses, find their balance, and challenge them where needed. This may take a bit of practice and preparation, but you’re investing in the quality of all of your future classes.
Visibility: Show your brand
Teaching outside offers a great opportunity to show your brand and increase visibility. Especially (when allowed) if you teach in a public space, such as a park, town square, or in a forest. You can be creative here. Create custom mats or towels, print t-shirts with your studio name on them, or even put a banner up!
Part two: In-depth challenges and solutions to teaching outdoors. Brought to you by Izzy Arcoleo:
This year, outside classes come with an added benefit — reduced concern about the transmission of Covid-19, because you’re outside in the fresh air with more space to implement good social distancing measures.
That being said, outdoor yoga does present a few unique challenges. Unless you have access to solid decking in a big private garden, the chances are you’ll be teaching on uneven grassy ground in a park or other public place, with lots of distractions (and always the possibility of rain).
Here are a few tips to help you and your yogis make the most of outdoor yoga classes.
Problem: You’re teaching in a public place, so there are lots of people and other distractions around
A group of people walks by, fixing their gaze on the people practicing yoga in the park, exchanging comments. A dog chases a ball and runs at speed right through the middle of your group. Kids shout nearby. Clouds roll over, or a breeze starts to blow.
Outdoor yoga can be a beautiful experience, surrounded by nature — but it can be fraught with distractions too.
What to do?
Instead of trying to pretend none of it’s happening, acknowledge the distractions. If something happens that clearly pulls the group’s attention away from their practice, mention it.
A simple, lighthearted “I bet they wish they could hold plank as long as you” when passers-by seem particularly interested in what you’re up to; or “Ahh, the magic of nature!” when the wind blows a student’s socks away, can take the power away from the distraction and refocus awareness.
Problem: The ground is grassy and/or uneven and/or hard
Yoga studios often have comfortable, clean, sprung floors. Parks, gardens, and fields? Not so much. Uneven ground can feel uncomfortable to yogis, and make certain postures more difficult.
What to do?
Adapt to the terrain. If the ground is uneven, for example, you could weave it into the practice by focusing on balance and actively using the extra challenge, rather than ignoring it. If you know the ground’s going to be hard, encourage yogis to bring along a blanket — or even an extra mat if they have one — so you can add padding under the joints when needed.
As a teacher, the best thing you can do is have an idea of the terrain ahead of time. Visit the class location beforehand so you can let students know if any extra props or clothes would be helpful.
Problem: It might rain, or be too windy, or too hot…
No matter how closely you study the forecast, the weather could always surprise you. And certain conditions do make an outdoor yoga class an unpleasant — or impossible — experience.
What to do?
Have an alternative plan. If you’re set up to teach online, as many of us are now that the global pandemic has pushed much of our work into the virtual realm, then tell your class attendees that if the weather changes the class will be held online instead.
Then update everyone a couple of hours before the class to confirm whether or not it will go ahead outdoors. That way you don’t have to cancel — and no one will be left sitting alone in the rain, wondering where their yoga teacher is.
Problem: Holding space is hard when there aren’t any walls
This is related to outside distractions, but it goes a little deeper. Part of a yoga teacher’s job is to ‘hold space’; a skill that’s hard to describe, but essentially means creating and maintaining the vibe of the class so students feel calm, focused, supported, and able to connect inwards. Doing that in a big open space, without walls to define the physical edges of the space you’re holding, can be much harder.
What to do?
Ground yourself. Holding space starts with you, so make sure you give yourself time to get yourself in the right headspace for the class. Take a moment to meditate, do a little practice yourself, or stick to a regular pre-class ritual.
"Take a moment to meditate, do a little practice yourself, or stick to a regular pre-class ritual"
And then once the class is in flow, keep returning to that center. Keep your breath steady, keep your awareness on the class (if you’re distracted, they will be too), and use your body to move around the class space in a way that sets it apart from the space beyond.
Outdoor yoga can be a truly uplifting experience. Adapt to the challenges it brings, and get the most out of the sunshine!
That's it... setting yourself up to teach brilliant outdoor classes is as easy as that! Also make sure to check out our blog page for more inspiration
This guide was co-written with one of the Momoyoga bloggers: Izzy Arcoleo. Izzy is a yoga teacher and writer based in London. She’s passionate about drawing together physical yoga practices with yoga philosophy and anthropological theory to create practices that are inspiring, supportive and fulfilling.