Are you working overtime to share interesting research on yoga and mental health in your online yoga content and classes? And still, no one’s listening, clicking, or turning up? The best way to promote yoga classes – on Instagram, on your website, AND even in your classes – is with your humble beginnings.


The Curious Message Content Strategy

Let me introduce myself.

I’ve been a professional writer and a yoga practitioner for more than 20 years. After a severe case of depression and anxiety, I decided to go all in and take a six-month yoga teacher training, and then another 200-hour trauma-informed course with an emphasis on social justice and accessibility. Now I specialize in digital communications for yoga teachers and wellness professionals – especially those who care about mental health.

This blog post will explain why sharing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities upfront is the best way to promote your yoga classes – in your marketing or in person.

Yoga Instructor A personal example

My first day of volunteering at an addiction recovery centre, I was terrified the students would think I was a nerd, a flake, or a goody goody. These were people with real problems and bullshit detectors set on high. In fact, six people in the class of twenty flat out told me they were only there because it was a mandatory part of their program. They were going to read a book, or nap, or stare out the window. But they were not doing any Yoga!

Before class, sitting in my car and repeatedly adjusting my messy bun, I had decided that I needed to convince all 30 people that breathing practices would stimulate the Vagus Nerve, help them through withdrawal and support reconnection with the bodies they’d been numbing so long. 

If I wanted them to respect me, I would need to wow them with evidence!

Re-thinking my need to be the expert

Suddenly my trauma informed training snapped into focus. “Let go goal-centred thinking.” Suddenly it made sense.

Nobody cares about my goals – to teach a good class, to share useful information, to be a good teacher.

No problem, I said. Do whatever you like.

They looked surprised. 

 “I’m not a yoga expert,” I began, once the class was settled onto mats. “I’m not from South Asia, where yoga originated, and I didn’t grow up with these practices in my family.” 

“I’m just a person who had a lot of serious challenges with depression and mental health. And I learned that yoga is a really good tool when I need to cope with something in the moment – a family member comes to visit, an argument with my spouse, a long wait at the doctor, a problems at work. All the stuff you can’t get away from but just have to deal with. So these are a few practices that have helped me cope. Maybe some of them will work for you. Just see what you think.”

The attitude of the room shifted

By this point, all the readers had dropped their books to their laps, and the nappers had pulled their blankets back from their faces. Everyone else was nodding and making sympathetic faces. When I invited people to close their eyes for a grounding practice, everyone sat tall and closed their eyes. 

Yoga InstructorBreaking the Ice

People often start presentations at corporate conferences with their credentials, proving that they have authority on the subject and therefore you should believe whatever they say, and they have a right to be at the front of the room. 

Teaching yoga classes – particularly trauma informed yoga – is different. Then, you’re simply guiding people toward connections with the real authority in the room – themselves. To attract students to your yoga teaching, you need to demonstrate that you’re a trustworthy equal, just like them. 

Coffee Cup represents discussion How does this help you promote yoga classes?

Just like in a trauma informed yoga class, your yoga class promotions need to prioritize relationship and engagement over details. Connect with potential students before even thinking about promoting future yoga classes. Without the connection, you can forget the rest. 

Volunteering in that addiction recovery class is when I realized why all my social media efforts for a yoga non-profit weren’t working. The posts were promoting yoga workshops and training, wowing them with facts, but they weren’t connecting.

Real connections require vulnerability on both sides

To connect with strangers you need to be vulnerable. In trauma informed language, we call it disrupting power dynamics. In many adult friendships, we bond by sharing our problems. Even at work, if you need to make an ally out of someone, you ask for their advice. 

The person who looks like they have it all together – the know it all with the perfect hair and the perfect kids – is probably pretty lonely. Who wants to confide in them? People are naturally attracted to others they perceive to be in the same boat. We feel better when it seems like we’re not the only ones with a particular problem. So why would we want to spend time with people who don’t have problems? They just make us feel worse!

So whether you’re teaching yoga, promoting a yoga studio, or creating yoga content for Instagram, you need to share your equality, not your credentials

Promote Yoga Classes by Sharing What You Don’t Know First. 

Balanced RocksThe bare truth catches people’s attention. 

My students were literally laying down for naps and opening their books. Their intention was to ignore me as best they could. I could have tried to impress them with shocking facts about how yoga works to restore equilibrium in the body after trauma. But they probably already had a ton of info thrown at them at the rehabilitation centre about addiction recovery. That’s why they wanted to tune me out – I was just another expert telling them what to do. 

Sharing that I wasn’t an expert and I didn’t expect anyone to participate was a surprise. 

Every single person looked up from under their blanket or their book to see if I was … in the wrong place? About to do something inappropriate? About to do something different than all the experts they already knew? At the very least, it was worth keeping an eye on me. 

Apply this principle to promote your yoga classes: The hard truth is unexpected in advertising. But it makes sense for Yoga content because Yoga is about honesty and connection. So demonstrate your values by sharing an embarassing truth. 

Balanced RocksSharing your “weaknesses”* establishes credibility and trust. 

Sharing my struggle with depression and anxiety was relatable. Most people with addiction challenges also grapple with depression, anxiety, or PTSD. 

Even though stigma isn’t as great as decades ago, most people don’t tend to start conversations with their mental health challenges. 

*Whether depression is a weakness or a superpower is another blog post. It’s sufficient that society views it as a weakness, that many people keep it a secret.

In sharing the credentials I didn’t have – I wasn’t from a South Asian family or region – I was acknowledging my limitations as a white woman coming to yoga in my 20s through the usual Western gateway of asana. Everyone in the room wouldn’t have cared about cultural appropriation, but a few people probably did. My statement also let people know my angle – yoga’s relationship to mental health. NOT yoga’s relationship to fitness, flexibility, gurus, the Yoga Sutras, ahimsa, or devotional practices. I might know about them, but I’m not going to be cramming them into the next 60 minutes. 

Immediately, people were nodding and smiling at me, murmuring that I was doing just fine as a non-expert. To me, that’s a sign of shifting power dynamics. If you’ve ever come out of addiction you know that you probably begin with a big burden of shame and low self-esteem. Feeling like you have something to offer – even a kind word to cheer someone up – is a boost. 

Apply this principle to promote your yoga classes: Be the ordinary person with ordinary problems in your newsletters and captions. Be real. Share a problem you’ve had and how you’re working on it. I guarantee your comments will fill up with people cheering you on and expressing gratitude for your bravery. Yes, some of them will be your friends. But some of them will be people suffering in silence who suddenly realized they were not the only one! Now they want more of that feeling of belonging so they hit follow, and check out your website.  

Balanced RocksSharing the messy truth about ourselves starts relationships. 

Once I shared something personal – my struggles with depression – many in the room realized we had something in common. Before I opened my mouth, I was a random volunteer in leggings. I knew something about them. But they didn’t know anything about me. That’s an awkward way to start a conversation. 

By sharing a few vulnerabilities – I’m opening a door, lowering my shield, extending my hand. All the friendship and safe-person metaphors!

Apply this principle to promote your yoga classes: The truth is that you’re one of a gazillion yoga teachers. (Same goes if you’re a naturopath or massage therapist or counsellor.) Why should someone take a chance on you rather than the dozens of others available? 

Mostly we make choices based on gut feelings. We just like the colour of their website. They grew up in Ontario, just like us. They also struggled with body image as children. You don’t necessarily have to spill your personal secrets. But the more you share about your unique history and favourite things, the more people have to go on. 

All the yoga teachers say they help you connect to yourself through the breath and asana. How many also collect weird salt-and-pepper shakers and Alice in Wonderland books? Hmmm? 

Suddenly you’re best in your Yoga niche.