As your private client list grows, the amount of time it takes to prepare for each session can, too. That’s why I take a similar yoga sequence each week and modify it into private yoga lesson plans that fit the specific needs of each student. This saves me a ton of time and energy! Plus my clients still progress toward their individual goals while feeling like I custom-tailored a plan for them. The biggest win? I stay away from the overwhelm and burnout that strikes hard in so many yoga professionals.
In fact, one of the most common comments I hear today from those in our Swagtail community is, “I really like what I’m learning. I just don’t have enough time to put these ideas into action.”
This post reveals one tool I use each week to save time. On Sundays, I set aside two hours to prepare for my week ahead. Because I use less energy creating private yoga lesson plans, I can use my extra minutes to dive into marketing strategies or content creation for Swagtail.
If you generated an extra hour in your workweek by trying this process, how would you utilize those precious moments to grow your yoga business?
Photo Creidt: Jay Farrell Photography
MODIFY A SIMILAR SEQUENCE
Each of your private yoga clients has a unique reason for working with you–in addition to a very unique body with which to approach their practice. Instead of spending hours crafting private yoga lesson plans for each of them, you can save lots of time and energy by modifying a similar yoga sequence.
What do I mean by this?
Well, there are thousands of known yoga postures today. Each of those asanas has numerous physical and emotional benefits that extend beyond the age, years of practice, or goals of your yoga students.
Instead of creating 15 plans for each of your 15 clients, you can select a peak posture to use throughout the week for many of them. Essentially, once you have the posture in mind, you can complete the following steps to adapt the sequence to meet specific client needs. This can all be done as part of the memorable yoga experience you create during each of your sessions.
Step 1: Consider a Client’s Specific Needs
Ideally, you track the progress of your private yoga clients. Saying this, you will have detailed notes about their specific conditions. Keep these in mind as you create the other elements of your private yoga lesson plans.
Step 2: Plan the Peak Posture
Decide how you can modify or adjust the expression of the peak posture to fit each client, as necessary.
Step 3: Plan the Warm-Up
- Identify parts of the body that need to be strong for the pose
- Recognize parts of the body that need to be flexible or elongated
- Choose yoga poses to warm up the body based on your answers to 1+2 above
- Modify poses in the warm-up to meet client needs
Step 4: Create an Appropriate Cool Down Phase
- Identify parts of the body that need to be addressed after taking the peak pose (this will help restore overall balance to the yoga practice)
- Select yoga poses that help facilitate this balance
- Modify the cool-down sequence to meet clients where they are at.
A LESSON PLAN FOR TRIANGLE POSE
I’d like to show you how I put these principles into action. To do this, I want to introduce you to three of my yoga students (although their names have been changed to protect their privacy):
Step 1: My unique Clients
- Sally is a 56-year-old woman who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Her doctor recommended gentle yoga as part of an overall plan to restore body health.
- Jennifer is a 32-year-old student who is 25 weeks pregnant. She’s been practicing vinyasa yoga for the past decade and is in great shape.
- Adam is a 42-year-old with very tight hamstrings. He’s an athlete and wants to use yoga to improve his golf game.
Step 2: My Peak Pose is Triangle
Uttitha Trikonasana, or triangle pose, is a foundational asana that would benefit each of these clients. It opens up the hips and lengthens the hamstrings. The core gets stronger, the heart opens, and the sides of the body get longer. It’s also a grounding posture that alleviates low back pain and stress.
To prepare an overview for these private yoga lesson plans, I jot down poses that prepare the body to take triangle pose (as well as asanas that will help balance it out).
Step 3: Warm-Up Postures for Triangle:
- Hamstring lengtheners, like Ardha Hanumanasa or Supta Padangustasana
- Hip openers, like Parighasana, Baddha Konasana or Warrior 2
- Side body lengtheners, like Chandrasana or Extended Side Angle
- Core strength, like Tabletop extension (bird-dog) or Plank
Step 4: Cool-down, or balancing postures, for Triangle
- Forward folds, like Paschimottanasana or Prasarita Padotanasana
- Spinal twists, like Ardha Matsyendrasana or Reclined Spinal Twist
- Outer hip releases, like Pigeon or Reclined Figure 4
Once I have the general ways to prepare a body for the pose, as well as balance it afterward, it’s time to look at how to modify the sequence for each client. Please note that each of the sessions below is 60 minutes in length.
Photo Credit: Bex White
SAMPLE PRIVATE LESSON PLAN FOR CLIENT 1
Since Sally is recovering from a brain injury and has trouble with her balance as a result, we are going to modify her private yoga lesson plan into a chair yoga program. Some of the practice will be standing. Yet, the added support of the chair will help throughout the class.
Peak pose modification: Sally will hold on to the back of the chair (or place her hand on the seat of the chair) during triangle pose.
My seated Triangle Class for Sally:
- Seated pranayama
- Seated cat/cow, the spinal circles
- Chandrasana, 5 breaths each side, to lengthen side body
- Inhale arms up, ex cactus arms, ex eagle arms (repeat 5x with each elbow on top)
- Forward fold while seated (keeping head above heart)
- Hug one knee into the chest, and make knee circles. Complete on both sides.
- Cross right knee over left, twist to right. 5 br. Repeat second side.
- Add seated cross crawls, to increase brain hemisphere communication.
- Come to stand next to chair. Chandrasana 5 breaths each side.
- Warrior 2, using chair for balance. Repeat on both sides.
- Use chair back for modified down dog.
- Use chair back/seat for modified triangle pose
- Take a standing twist, modified.
- Use chair back for modified prasarita padotanasana.
- Return to seated for gentle backbend hold
- Take gentle seated twist.
- Final forward fold variation.
- End with alternate nostril breathing to again balance brain hemispheres and body.
- Seated savasana/meditation
SAMPLE PRIVATE LESSON PLAN FOR CLIENT 2
Jennifer has recently become my private client as the group classes don’t fit into her modified work schedule. And with a baby on the way, she wants to make sure she can modify her practice safely. Jennifer is a seasoned and strong practitioner, so I know we don’t have to scale down the class sequence too much. Although, I really have to keep in mind that she is just entering her third trimester at 25 weeks pregnant.
Third Trimester modifications:
- Inversions can affect the baby position in the third trimester. Since this is just the beginning of this time period, I will still have her in down dog. Only she’ll stay for less time.
- Remove all positions lying on the belly.
- Skip holds on the back, as the weight of the baby can cause undue pressure on her organs.
My Baby-Ready Flow for Jennifer
- Seated centered, sukhasana.
- Spinal Barrel Rolls, 5x each direction, then hold in lateral bend and gentle twist. 5 breaths each pose, on each side.
- Come to hands and knees. Cat/cow 5-10 rounds
- Come to stand on knees. Low lunge/ardha hanuman flow 5x each side. Turn sideways and take parighasana.
- Repeat on the second side.
- Come to down dog, 5 br then step forward with legs mat distance apart to fold, and roll to stand.
- Surya namaskara A, adding chair pose with wide-legged stance. Modify vinyasa to come to knees, and take a round of cat/cow (instead of chaturanga/updog).
- From base of Surya Namaskara B, can take V1, then open and hold V2. Can use chair seat underneath sitting bones for additional support if needed. Hold 5 breaths each pose in the sequence. Add 5 br extended side angle each side.
- Repeat on the second side.
- Prasa C, to open the heart and offset increased weight in upper body.
- Triangle pose, both sides for 5 breaths each.
- Pyramid pose, with blocks for support if needed. This will help stretch lateral line of leg without being on back or in awkward seated fold.
- Rest in vajrasana.
- Camel, 3x, taking vajrasana in between to rest.
- Vajrasana with twist can neutralize spine after a backbend.
- Come to lie on side. Take cat pulling its tail.
- Savasana can be propped on the side, blanket between knees, on the underside of belly, and underside of head, as needed. Use as many blankets and props as needed to feel supported and comfortable.
SAMPLE PRIVATE LESSON PLAN FOR CLIENT 3
I absolutely love teaching yoga to athletes! They are motivated, body-aware, and ready to use yoga as a way to support their sport. Adam is just this way. He’s an avid golfer with really tight hamstrings. This, in combination with lots of hours commuting to and from work, has caused lots of low back tension. Triangle pose will definitely check all of the boxes to improve his way of life.
Specific needs for Adam: Even though this client is an athlete, he still has lots of tension in his body. Thus we’re going to ease our way into the backline of the body. And, since there are no restrictions to being on the back, we will spend a bit of time there. This will support the low back while opening the hamstrings. With Adam’s limited mobility, I would also make his private yoga lesson plan more of a hatha style class than a vinyasa one.
The Athlete Sequence for Adam
- Start supine, with knees bent. Sama Vritti.
- Apanasana 5x, and add knee circles (5x each direction)
- Gentle reclined spinal twist.
- Come to hands and knees. Cat/cow 5-10 rounds. Add barrel rolls for the spine.
- Thread the needle.
- Come to stand on knees. Low lunge/ardha hanuman flow 5x each side, likely using blocks under the hands to alleviate hamstring tension. Turn sideways and take parighasana. Repeat on the second side.
- Come to a bent-knee down dog, 5 br then step forward to bent-knee uttanasana.
- Surya namaskara A, adding chair pose at beginning and end. This warms up the legs and core. I would also add 3 rounds of gentle cobra in the middle of this sequence to strengthen the low back.
- Come to stand facing side of mat with legs wide.
- Warrior 2 and side angle. 5 breath each pose. Repeat on the second side.
- Prasa T, with a block under the bottom hand.
- Triangle pose both sides, with props. 5 br each side.
- Tadasana to integrate. 5 br.
- Come to seated.
- Marcihyasana C twist (arm bind not the focus, but the twist)
- Recline to back. Take active bridge (in—up, ex—down) 5x, then hold at top for 5 br.
- Reclined figure 4, then take into twist. 5 br each part of posture.
- Supta padangustasana, with lower leg bent and use strap. Both sides 5 br.
- Optional happy baby.
- Savasana, with knees supported by bolster.
Photo Credit: Ember and Earth
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
As your private client list grows, you will often have to spend more time preparing specific classes to meet the unique needs of each person. However, there are simple ways you can save yourself time and energy in this process. First, select one of the many yoga poses that is accessible to a wide range of people. Second, find general ways to prepare the body for that pose (as well as balance the body out in the cool-down sequence for a class). Then, make minor tweaks to each part of that sequence for each of your clients.
The end result is that your clients can improve their well-being, stay on the path to reach their goals, and feel like you’ve spent hours crafting a private yoga lesson plan just for them.
Take Action Now:
- Download my sample sequences for each of these 3 clients.
- Try this time-saving plan this week. Pick a peak pose and create 3 private yoga lesson plans based on that posture.
- Share your successes with me! I love to hear how you are becoming more efficient and organized as a yoga professional (all while delivering great customer service to your students!!)