Welcome back to the How to Organize a Yoga Workshop series. In Part 1, you learned all the nitty gritty details about selecting a venue to host your yoga workshop. For Part 2, we’re tackling how to outline and flesh out your workshop topic. In Part 3, you’ll learn the key factors to successfully marketing your workshop.
👉 When organizing a workshop, you might prefer to start with the topic first. By understanding the subject matter, and all its requirements, you’ll better be able to scout locations that match those needs.
For example, if you choose to do a workshop on restorative yoga, you’ll need space to accommodate not only the participants, but all the props necessary for restorative.
But for now, let’s focus on finding the perfect topic for you to share.
Choose your workshop topic
Pick something specific.
The more specific the workshop topic, the more interest you’ll generate, and the more you can dig into the material.
👉 When the subject matter is too broad, or you’ve included too many different topics, you won’t have time to let people absorb and ask questions. No one wants to feel like it’s a race to the finish line.
Or worse, they didn’t find the workshop valuable because you had to rush to get through all the points.
If you’re not sure what topic you could cover for a workshop, ask yourself these questions:
- What are you good at?
- What are you passionate about?
- What questions are people constantly asking you about?
Topic Choices are Endless
If the audience you’re interested in inviting to your workshop primarily practices yoga in group classes, you have a buffet of topics available to you.
The quick-paced, 60-minute time constraint of a yoga asana class makes it difficult for yoga teachers to really educate. Workshops become the ideal vehicle for taking a snippet from class and expanding on it.
I’ve done workshops and trainings on the following.
- Beginner Series
- Partner Yoga
- Vision Board
And there are so many more to choose from.
how long should it be?
The topic you choose will be a huge determining factor in how long to make the workshop.
But. . .
👉 If you’re new to presenting workshops, you might want to go with a shorter time frame. I recommend planning your first workshop for around 2.5 to 3 hours.
And here are the reasons why:
- Less content to create and less pressure on you.
- The shorter time frame may make finding a venue easier.
- People are more likely to commit to a shorter workshop if they’re not familiar with you.
Now that you’ve selected your topic, let’s flesh it out.
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Six stages of a yoga workshop
In this section, we’ll discuss the different stages to include in a yoga workshop. Similarly to how you’d sequence a yoga asana class, you’ll want to include:
(You might also like How to Sequence a Yoga Class.)
Right after the group is settled in their seats or on their mats, I cover general information, all the questions that are running through participants’ minds.
Show them where the bathrooms are, let them know whether or not they can drink/snack in the space, when the breaks are, and confirm the time you plan to end the workshop.
I’m a huge fan of treating my participants like adults.
If they need the bathroom before a designated break, they don’t need permission to go. If they need to stand, stretch, or walk around, they’re welcome to do so.
Decide and discuss cell phone etiquette and expectations. Bare minimum, if someone needs to take a call, they do it outside the room so they don’t disturb the other participants.
Approximately 5 minutes in a 3 hour workshop.
In a workshop environment, this is where you and the participants get to know each other a little better. I keep my own introduction brief, or non-existent, when I know the individuals. I want the participants to have plenty of time to introduce themselves.
I’m not a big fan of icebreaker games.
Done correctly, icebreakers are great, but too many people don’t understand how to connect icebreakers to the audience and outcome of the workshop. Most of the time icebreakers shut down your shy, reserved, and introverted personalities.
You might try offering an opening question instead. What interested the participants about the workshop? What’s their yoga experience? How long have they been practicing? What’s their biggest source of stress?
This type of open-ended question allows them to give as much (or as little) information as they’re comfortable with. Plus it gives YOU the opportunity to learn more about your participants.
Depending on how many are at the event, you’ll want to keep the introductions brief especially in a shorter length workshop.
Approximately 15 minutes in a 3 hour workshop.
Next hand out the materials and go through the agenda of the workshop, what you plan to cover, and the results/benefits you hope they get from your time together.
From here, I split the working stage into two parts: the first part to disseminate information and the second part to put into practice what they’ve learned.
Continuing with the restorative yoga workshop example. . .
In the first part, I might discuss restorative yoga’s purpose, its benefits, how restorative differs from other styles, and why props are important. I might include photos of different postures and go over them as well as share their specific benefits.
👉 Need to work in a bathroom break? This is a good time for one.
For the second part, I’d lead the participants through an actual restorative class using the different postures from above. Plus I’d include something that would make it special and different from a regular class.
If you were hosting a creative workshop, like Making a Vision Board, The second part might be the actual searching for images and pasting them on the poster board.
Approximately 2 hours in a 3 hour workshop.
One of my favorite activities to include in any type of yoga workshop is meditation. Too many people don’t make the time for a home practice or don’t know how. Workshops allow you to introduce meditation and help individuals get more comfortable with it.
(Did you know the yoga teacher resource library has guided meditation scripts?)
Approximately 15 minutes in a 3 hour workshop.
Time to wrap up the workshop. Offer one more opportunity for questions and answers.
Ask each participant what’s one thing they learned from the workshop or go around and have each one give a closing comment. You could also create a feedback form for them to complete (this is a great way to get testimonies).
Above all, thank them for attending and participating.
Approximately 15 minutes in a 3 hour workshop.
As the host, and as a way for you to show your appreciation for their time and attention, provide a small gift to the participants. It could be a worksheet, a copy of the guided meditation you used, or a journal (my personal fave).
If your workshop was a creative workshop, the takeaway might include something you made together, like a mala bracelet or essential oil play-dough.
my biggest piece of advice
One of the ideologies discussed in the training sector deals with learning styles. First theorized by Neil Fleming in 1992 through observation of school classrooms, he believed students were either visual, auditory, or kinestethic learners. Unfortunately subsequent studies have mostly dis-proven his work.
However you can use the general ideology to elevate your workshop by varying the ways you communicate the information to your group.
I’m not a fan of boring my participants.
Remember you’re hosting a WORKshop not TALK-THEM-TO-DEATHshop. Know your material and don’t read word-for-word from your handouts.
You can also up your workshop game by:
- Having handouts and/or presentation slides
- Use a white board or pad and easel
- Have notepads and colored pens available for note taking + doodling
- Put out Play-doh, Silly Putty, or slime to keep people’s hands busy
- Break up long sections of lecture with group exercises, group discussions, or some type of activity that relates to the topic.
- Allow for Q&A throughout the workshop, not just at the end when people are ready to go
The more participation you allow your audience, the more they’ll feel the workshop was valuable and they were valued as attendees.
Final tips from the trenches
As you outline your topic, keep your audience in mind at all times. Beginners’ needs are very different from those with even a little bit of experience. You may need to include material that addresses both.
If you’re struggling to come up with an outline, try reverse engineering. Start with the end goal in mind and work backward from there.
Pass out materials only when you’re ready to begin educating. If you give them out ahead of time, people will skim/read through the material and pay less attention to you and the other participants.
Be diligent (not militant) about break times. If you say the break is five minutes, keep it at five minutes. Otherwise the participants will straggle in whenever they’re ready, and this eats away at precious time.
Allow time for chit chat, socializing, and extra questions but know when to steer the group back to the material to stay on agenda.
Phew! We’ve covered a lot of ground in Parts 1 and 2 so be sure to download the How to Organize a Workshop packet from the resource library.
More in this series
Part 2 Outlining Your Yoga Workshop