You may have noticed that retail stores selling yoga clothing often host weekly classes. These attract practitioners who spend an hour or more in the company of the clothes, with the idea that they are more likely to buy. In my experience—and I would be happy to be wrong here!—in-store classes do not convert to paying students at the studio. Who comes to free classes at the mall? People who know they can get free yoga there every week!
You might have your own reasons for saying yes to an invitation to lead a free in-store class. Maybe you are counting this as seva, volunteer work. Maybe you’re offered an outfit in exchange for your time—this could be a good deal, coming to the equivalent of $200 for an hour of your time. Or maybe you want to gain experience as a new teacher, or even apply for a job in the store. Be clear about your reasons. Just don’t expect the students, who may be very nice, to follow you to the studio or a private lesson. That doesn’t mean you can’t try!
If you are teaching a free class, plan to attend the class sometime in the weeks before it’s your turn to teach it. Look at the students, gauge their experience level and needs, and figure out how you can best use the space and your time. Decide how you can offer students something of value, both in your lesson plan and in exchange for signing up for your newsletter. Confirm with the venue that you can collect email addresses, then at the end of your class, invite students to sign up to receive a video, or a coupon for a discounted class with you elsewhere, whatever you think will make the best incentive.
The Professional Yoga Teacher’s Handbook is full of advice like this. Order it from your favorite bookseller or library—or from me here.