Embrace Beginners

I struggle with back and shoulder injuries, and I have for six years.That means the rigorous asana (physical yoga postures) practice I’ve enjoyed for the last 20+ years is not available to me anymore. Maybe someday, but not right now.

I now attend a much gentler yoga class where I focus on alignment. My butt might not be so toned anymore but the benefits of a more mindful yoga are great for my injuries, calming for my mind, and have brought me back to the fundamentals I learned long ago. Which feels grounding and good.

This enjoyment of “beginning yoga” (I use quotation marks because there isn’t any such thing but that’s another topic for another time) got me thinking: where as teachers do we forget or dismiss beginners? Maybe because we think they’re already being served by other courses/teachers or because we think teaching them will be boring?

Beginners are a huge market segment, but you may overlook that truth as you become an expert in your field. You don’t see the beginners because you aren’t hanging with them. But they are there.

Questions to stir your marketing and teaching mind:

  • Do you have classes and courses aimed at beginners? Do you make it extra safe for them to join, allay fears of “not getting it” or “looking dumb”?
  • Do you engage with your beginners as a teacher to remember what it was like? That’s a fantastic way to energize your teaching and your own learning.
  • Are there opportunities to invite your “advanced” students back for a refresher class? (A summer income source.) Or do you need to extend yourself to students who don’t feel “advanced” enough? Is your marketing inclusive and jargon free?
  • Could you offer a beginning series – say for 4 or 6 weeks – to get more students up to speed so they can take your more advanced classes?

It’s often harder to teach beginners because it requires you to truly know your subject matter and be able to explain it or demonstrate it discreetly and clearly. It’s usually the opposite of boring – it can be terrifying (my first yoga class I ever taught had a blind person in it!), although once you master a subject, teaching the 101 class can become repetitive. In which case, tap into your own beginner’s mind to refuel your passion or start training apprentices to teach parts for you. Or move on.

Your homework: how can you serve and welcome beginners? What does being “a beginner” mean or look like for your subject(s)? Are you afraid of beginners? Where and how are you embracing being a beginner?

Do tell!