Pop Up Yoga Classes: The New Direction for Yoga Teachers

By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, ERYT500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP

Pop Up Yoga Classes: The New Direction for Yoga Teachers

I've come to realize that pop up yoga classes are the way of the future for yoga teachers.   Pop up yoga classes are fun and easy to put together, making them an attainable yoga business model for yoga teachers everywhere. 

During my career as a yoga instructor, I've covered a lot of ground.  First I worked for other studios, gyms, community centers, retirement centers, schools and so on.  This usually involves weekly class commitments and low pay.  However, it's rewarding and you learn an incredible amount of priceless knowledge working with so many different bodies.  

Next, I worked at a "stay spa" teaching 27 weekly yoga/meditation/pranayama classes to people who were dropping in for a few days to get away. This paid a little better and was also great experience, but I quickly burned out.  

Pop up yoga classes

Eventually, I opened my own studio.  Yes, it's fulfilling and joyous to cultivate community and create a safe container for others to practice.  However, it is also time-consuming and some days are better than others financially.

As yoga instructors, we are all entrepreneurs to some extent, responsible for promoting ourselves and finding the most compatible teaching opportunities.  

Pop Up Yoga Classes As A Business Model

Working with so many teacher trainees, I realize that everyone has a different path and unique purpose. Whatever your path and purpose, I highly recommend that you consider pop-up yoga classes when designing your personal business model.  

I had a pop-up class at a winery today, "Yoga at the Winery."  I had 28 people book ahead of time, and then we had walk-ins, totaling 33.  I only charged $10 per student. I used Schedulicity's super affordable scheduling software and it worked beautifully.  (I'm a huge fan! Don't miss those MindBody fees.)

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Restorative Heart Opener at Pop Up Yoga Class

The pop up yoga class was themed around heart-openers, which I felt was suitable for Sunday morning yoga.  I knew I needed to center the class before we got started because wineries bring large groups of friends and lots of chatter.  We opened up in this restorative heart-opener with a rolled blanket under the shoulders.  Soon after, we were flowing. 

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Blankets for Pop Up Yoga Class

Of course, getting the blankets to the pop-up class is another story.  Fortunately, I have my husband who handles that end of things. 

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Group Photo at Pop Up Yoga Class at Winery

Everyone had a blast!  Immediately after the class was over, groups of friends started patronizing the winery where the pop up yoga class was held.  I was able to gather some of the students for a group photo.

Why Pop Up Yoga Classes Work

There is a long list of reasons this business model works. First of all, you have no overheard.  You are using someone else's space for your pop up yoga class.  What do they get out of it?  Free business.  You are driving traffic into their business.  Check out all the people at the bar in the photo below. (Yes, I know, terrible photo.  I was facing the light.  But, every person in this space was there because of my pop up yoga class).

Business Generated for Winery from Pop Up Yoga Class

Pop up yoga classes also work because they are not offered on a weekly basis.  This means there is not an unlimited opportunity for people to attend.  This works to your advantage and you funnel all interested parties into one date.  So, create as much hype as you can.

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Screenshot of Facebook Event for Pop Up Yoga Class

You are likely pulling from both your own audience and audience of the location where the pop up yoga class will be held.  This means you will have cross promotion from your location partner in the pop up yoga class. This class had 332 people interested and there were 20+ shares.  Generating buzz definitely makes a difference. 

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The Winery's Social Media Promoting Pop Up Yoga Class

The Key to Pop Up Yoga Classes

The key to this yoga business model, as with any business model, is to keep your costs low so that your profit margin is higher.  By using the space of another business, you are helping that business out and keeping your costs down.  You can also use scheduling software like Schedulicity that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg but still keeps you organized.  Depending on your social media following and the following of the business that is hosting your class, you may not need to pay for advertising.  Email blasts are also a great way to market the class and reach everyone in your database and the database of your hosting business. 

Affordable Yoga

If you're able to make it affordable to your students, I think that's an important part of the pop up yoga class business model.  It ensures that you have a good turnout.  Having a good turnout is important because you want to make it work for your host, and you also want to build your database.  Everyone that comes to your class will register with your scheduling software, so you will be collecting email addresses for future events.   

More importantly, yoga has been unattainable for many populations for a very long time.  Why shouldn't yoga be affordable for everyone?  Yoga isn't a practice for the elite.  Yoga is a practice that should be available for every person and we all have to do our part as yoga teachers to make our yoga classes inclusive in every way that we can. 

Keep Your Pop Up Yoga Class Fun!

Pop up yoga classes are usually not meant to be too serious.  People are coming to have a good time, and you want to keep it light.  Often times, there are newbies to yoga who are coming because they are familiar with the business that hosts the event and they view the opportunity as a safe space to try yoga for the first time.  Sequencing should be simple and easily adaptable to all body types.  If you're using a playlist, you can make it fun.  This is the time to bring positive and upbeat energy into your class.

In sum, pop up yoga classes are fun and students love them.  You create an opportunity for your students to mix yoga with something else they love.  Maybe your pop up yoga class is at the museum (yoga + art) or the park (yoga + nature) or maybe it's even at a zoo (yoga + animals).  Create the container.  Make it affordable and attainable.  You will get where you need to be on volume.  Focus on delivering a safe and fun class and the money will come.  Promote. Promote. Promote.  You can't lose with this yoga business model.

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About the Author

Founder of Online Yoga School and Yoga & Ayurveda Center

Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC

Steph has over 25 years of experience in yoga and movement.  Her understanding of yoga and the human body has been influenced by lifelong dancing and holistic health.  She found her life’s purpose in helping people become happier and healthier through her own healing journey.  Steph assists her students in knowing the joy and wonderment of integrating the mind and body through accessible yoga.  She encourages an authentic and life-nurturing practice, one that brings greater consciousness to each moment and every movement of the body with a heavy emphasis on breath.  

With a masters degree in counseling, Steph brings awareness, acceptance and a down to earth approach to her classes.  She studied with Maty Ezraty and later completed her second 200-hour training with Nancy Candea at Yoga Impact in New Jersey and her 300-hour training with Chris Loebsack at Boundless Yoga Studio in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.   The perpetual student, Steph has studied with Leslie Howard, Travis Eliot, Bryan Kest, Donna Farhi and countless others.  She has extensive training in pelvic floor yoga, restorative yoga, yin yoga, power yoga and accessible yoga.  Most recently, Steph was certified as a Grand Master of Meditation through Swami Vidyanand.

Steph founded Yoga and Ayurveda Center with her husband.  She later launched Online Yoga School to support her local trainings and has recently launched a virtual yoga studio to accommodate the international community of trainees.

When she isn’t on her mat, Steph can be found volunteering, enjoying her husband and children, dancing and cooking.  She currently enjoys serving on the board of World Yoga Federation and Meditation Alliance International and previously enjoyed serving on the Education Committee of Yoga Alliance and places a strong emphasis on inclusivity in her teacher trainings.  

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