I talked with Giselle Sharlow from Kids Yoga Stories about Finding your Niche as a Kids Yoga Teacher.
You can watch our full talk here or read the highlights below:
This is a revised, shortened version of the interview.
How I Found My Yoga Niche
Giselle: Give us some background on how you got into teaching kids yoga.
Kathy Aruna: This year is my 25th anniversary of becoming a yoga teacher. That’s incredible to me because I never saw myself as a physical kid. I found yoga when I was an adult and working in social work. I won’t get into the details but after a workplace incident, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
I was off work for a short time and discovered yoga and just fell in love. A lot of people might relate to that feeling of “aaaaaah, yeah!” when they discovered yoga.
At the same time, I didn’t want to go back to my job but I didn’t know what else I could do. I read, Do What you Love, The Money will Follow and the ideas were very influential for me. However, I didn’t know what I loved, I had no clue.
The book had a lot of mindful ideas, and asked you to notice when you’re happy and what you look forward to. One day I was riding my bike to yoga class and I began whistling as I rode. I noticed I was happy. If you’ve ever had post-traumatic stress, you know that’s a special feeling. That was when I started considering teaching yoga.
The Niche of Kids Yoga
I started off teaching adults and eventually kids’ yoga. I love teaching kids and I loved the schedule too. After teaching a lot of adult classes for over 5 years, I began dropping the evening and weekend classes and found more kids yoga classes during the day. The schedule was a big factor in choosing my niche.
For a few more years I taught about 25 classes a week, but arranged it so many classes were in same location on the same day. In one daycare I taught 5 classes, in anther centre I taught 3 classes.
Through word of mouth and no website, I kept getting class offers and I couldn’t fit in any more classes. I realized it was time to train other teachers in kids yoga.
Look for Niche Clues in the Marketplace
In my career, when I saw gaps and problems, I followed those leads.
First, I started offering a weekend kids yoga teacher training. This was before Yoga Alliance created the 95 Hour designation but I eventually registered a children’s yoga school.
Then the 200 hour yoga teacher training developed out of another problem I identified in the lack of teen yoga programs. I remembered how in swimming, kids can take lessons to learn to swim then can go on to get the qualifications to be a lifeguard. I was a lifeguard as a teen.
I thought why shouldn’t teens be able to do that with yoga?
I had that idea for years but never found the time to write a training. Then I met Claire in my kids yoga training. After graduating, she heard my teen yoga idea and said, “I’m gonna be the one to help you do that idea.” We ended up becoming business partners.
Together we wrote the 200 Hour Training. It was hard work for us and we knew it would be hard for others too.
The Niche Supporting Experienced Yoga Teachers
We always knew it would be a helpful service to let other qualified teachers license our program to train their students. That became the next niche.
We knew the skills you need to write a teacher training aren’t the same skills you need to be a good yoga teacher or trainer. We’ve helped over 20 RYS’s register with Yoga Alliance from around the world.
Teen Yoga Leadership Niche
Then we saw a gap between kid’s yoga and adult yoga. There is a difference in yoga for kids and yoga for adults. You can’t go from the games and imagination of kid’s yoga to the quiet of an adult yoga class. You have to hand-hold a little bit, for tweens and early teens. That niche became the teen leadership program which we sell as well.
All the niches came out of passions, experiences, and seeing a need, a gap, and a demand.
Giselle: I picture a Venn diagram with you passion in one circle, your resume in another circle, and the third circle is what the market will pay for. Where those things intersect is a good place to find your niche.
What are your tips to help people find their niche?
Niche Tip One: Do the Research First
Kathy Aruna: To niche, especially if you’re going to invest in a program, you’ve got to do the research and make sure there is a market. For example, if you’re doing a teen leadership series or a teacher training, you can hold an Info Session and put out feelers before you create the courses.
That’s what businesses do now, test the market before they invest time or money. We’ve all been there, spent months creating something and then no one signs up for it. It feels crappy because no one has endless resources, and you wish you knew no one was interested before doing all the work.
Put it out there first, just tell people you’re thinking of offering XYZ training or course. Invite people to an info session and see who attends. Use a postcard of questions and ask people to fill it in and hand it back. Again, see how many responses you get. You can ask when they want to start, what kind of schedule they want, etc.
Get that feedback before you start writing or investing in a program.
Giselle: I love that, at Kids Yoga Stories our business is mostly digital and we email a survey to our community and use that data. You can do this in-person or online. Even if you don’t have a large community, you can send it out to friends or local community groups or put it on your local Facebook page. Start asking grassroots style.
Kathy Aruna: Yes!
Tip Two: Let Your Niche Change
The next tip is to let your Niche change. I’ll give you a personal example from when I left my social work job to go into yoga teaching. I was accepted into a business incubator and my business idea was teaching yoga and selling Ayurvedic food. It said nothing about kids’ yoga in it! That makes me laugh, I spent a whole year planning a niche that never was. When you start out, you don’t always know where the opportunities lie.
I had that passion but when it came down to the reality, I realized I’m going to have to find a commercial kitchen and get a food handlers certificate. There were all these other steps for selling food I didn’t know about. Eventually that business niche morphed into kids’ yoga.
I’m glad I did all the planning on paper first so I could realize I didn’t want to move in that direction.
When people graduate from my 95-hour Registered Children’s Yoga School, sometimes they think, “I need to build a website to start teaching.”
I recommend they just start teaching because what’s on your website is going to change. They could put up a simple one-page website, with a bio and their class info, maybe a newsletter sign-up.
Discover Your Yoga Niche through Experience
Since you don’t know where this journey is going to lead you, just start teaching. You’ll discover your Niche from all those experiences.
Giselle: When people graduate, they can teach in after school programs, preschools, private schools, elementary schools. Some people use their teaching or education background or social work or school counselor background. Some people really love summer yoga camps, recess classes, family yoga. Some even come across unexpected projects on television. Some get contracted to write a book on a specific topic. There’s even a teacher for a group of refugee children. There are so many options.
You have to get out there to get clear on what you like.
Tip Three: Prepare for Change
The third thing, once you find you passions is to prepare for these to change. You may start teaching classes, then find you like teaching preschoolers because of the schedule. That was my path up until my seventh or eighth year of teaching. Then my Niche moved into kids’ yoga teacher training, then adult teacher training, then teen leadership, and now it’s supporting trainers. Your niche is going to change over the years!
I make planning change a habit by reviewing my business plan frequently and do a big review around New Year’s when my business is slow.
I sit down with post-It notes, markers, journal, and calendar and consider many new ideas and possible plans. It’s a whole process. Everyone who’s taken my kids yoga teacher training knows how important it is to imagine new possibilities. I look at how I want to change my niche and which direction I will grow. My meditation teacher says, “if your vision doesn’t change then it becomes stagnant.”
You want to let your niche grow and develop.
Where to Find These Resources Online:
Kids Yoga Stories – Giselle’s Website
Kids Yoga Stories on Instagram
Kids Yoga Stories on YouTube
Young Yoga Masters.com
Yoga Trainer Fast Track – 200 Hour Training that we license out
Kids Yoga Teacher Training
Check Out the Self-Paced Teacher Certification
- Yoga Literacy with the Yoga Alphabet (16 Hour Certificate)
- Themes and Dreams (16 Hour Certificate)
- Kids Yoga and Mindfulness Training- School Age (8 Hour Certificate)
- Chakras for Children (4 Hour Certificate)
- Family Yoga (4 Hour Certificate)
- Mindfulness for Children (16 Hour Certificate)
- Inclusive Yoga (16 Hour Certificate)
- Level 2: Mastermind Curriculum Design and Business Planning (16 Hour Certificate)
- All Modules = 96 Hour Certificate