Teaching a Private Yoga Lesson: The Essentials

I adore teaching private yoga lessons: there's something really special about being able to work with a student 1:1, and completely customize a class based on their body and mindset. I've learned that an effective private lesson has a lot to do with proper set-up, so I wanted to share what's worked for me.

What should you do before your first private yoga session with a client?

  • Confirm your rate: rates will vary by city, your level of experience, travel time, and more. Make sure payment has been confirmed before you show up to avoid any awkward post-yoga money discussions - not fun for anyone! I typically work with Venmo, Square, or plain ol' cash.

  • Confirm location: If you're driving to their home or workplace, budget in an extra 15 minutes or so. Being late causes unnecessary stress on both ends!

  • Plan your class: I typically talk to my clients before my first visit about where they see their strengths and areas for opportunity. I'll build a class around our discussion, but always, always stay present - work with what's going on in the moment!

What should you bring to your first private yoga session with a client?

This is the fun part! Since I do a few privates in the early morning before I head to work, I want to spend as little time as possible getting ready in the mornings. I've built up a Mary Poppins bag of goodies that I can grab and go! 

THIS is how you prep for a private client.

THIS is how you prep for a private client.


  • Blocks - A yogi's BFF (4L). Bring at least one block, two if you can swing it. You want your student to be as comfortable as possible, and blocks are one of my favorite ways to deepen a client's experience. For newer students, I usually go with a foam block.
  • Strap - Just like blocks, straps allow students to access shapes that might not happen otherwise.  I always bring my 8 foot yoga strap; if you have taller clients, bigger is definitely better!
    • Pro Tip: If your client has open hips, bound supta baddhakonasana is an awesome, awesome release right before (or during) savasana. Throw two blocks under each knee so that it's nice and comfy for them.
  • Water - Just like when you're teaching a public class, you need to stay hydrated while you're yapping your face off about those eight limbs and all those poses. I'm currently obsessed with Gaiam's insulated water bottle - great for ice-cold water, or super-hot lemon tea.
  • Comfy Clothes - get your clothing ready before you head out, so you're not scrambling around for something clean. I'm all for a good leggings/sports bra combo with a loose tee thrown on top.

Then, of course, the extras: any oils you like, incense, crystals - whatever you use to make your practice special, that you think your client would also appreciate. 

PS - if you're looking to stock up on any yoga goodies, head on over to Gaiam. My code will get ya 20% off all orders over $50: AMANDA30 :)

What else do YOU bring to your client sessions? Let me know in the comments!

How Do I Stretch My Wrists?

Earlier this week, I mentioned in one of my Instagram posts that I've been working through a (totally self-induced) wrist injury from kicking up into handstand & practicing arm balances that I wasn't warm enough for (hi, #yogaego). 

Here's a quick video showing a few of my favorite wrist exercises that I've been doing to help build flexibility & strength:


As always, hit me up if you have questions, suggestions, or just want to say hi. :)


The Busy Girl's Guide to Meditation

Isn't it funny how the times when it's hardest to meditate are the times you probably need it the most?

I've worked in the startup/tech industry for the past 6+ years, and to say it's a little crazy would be an understatement. If I'm being honest with myself, a big part of me feeds off of the excitement: a burst of insanity, a ton of brainstorming, a crazy project with a nearly-impossible deadline...there's something about the energy rush that can become addictive.

But you know what also comes with that adrenaline rush? Stress, vritti energy, and in many cases...little to no time to focus in on yourself.

When your career and social life are swirling around you a la Pig-Pen's cloud of dirt, adding on a meditation practice can seem pretty damn daunting. But here's the thing: meditation doesn't have to take up a huge chunk of your day. Creating a daily ritual of setting aside a few quiet moments each night can actually enhance all of the other things you have going on: by dedicating a little time to slow down, collect yourself, and  b r e a t h e, you'll be in a better mental state to handle whatever life throws at you tomorrow.

I've created a super-simple, mantra-based meditation practice that I do for about 10 minutes every night when I come home from work. I'd invite you to try it out for yourself - you might like it, too!

Create your environment

  • Shut off the lights.

  • Light a few candles, and burn some sage or Palo Santo, both of which are meant to clear negative energy and re-set your space.

  • Turn on meditative music. I have a dog and a roommate, so as much as I love music as a way to creatively guide my practice, it's also to drown out any external distractions. You can always steal some of my meditation music from Spotify.

  • Set an alarm for 12 minutes.  I typically give myself a 2 minute buffer to get settled and comfortable before I drop all the way in to meditation.

Get Comfortable

You don't need a huge space to meditate. I just throw my Gaiam cushion on the floor and sit right down in my bedroom.

  • Set yourself up comfortably. I use the Gaiam Rectangle Meditation Bolster  and sit in either lotus or sukhasana with a long spine.
  • Begin to breathe deeply and close your eyes. Forget about ujjayi breath. Forget about whatever you learned in that meditation class. Forget about what you think you should be doing, and just. breathe. In and out through the nose. Calmly begin to observe your breath: can you deepen your inhalations and exhalations? Can you smooth your breathing out at all? Relax the expectations around it, and just go with what you're feeling.

Mantra-based Breathing

  • As your breath regulates (inhales and exhales equally long, about 5-6 seconds each), begin to pair the in- and out-breaths with the phrase, "So Hum". As you breathe in, repeat in your mind "So"...As you breathe out, repeat in your mind, "Hum". 

  • Why "So Hum"?
    • So Hum is a verbal representation of the breath; it sort of sounds like your inhalations and exhalations. But more importantly, So Hum translates to "I am". 
  • Use this as an opportunity to remind you of what you are. Here are a few examples that I use, from time to time:
    • Enough. As simple as that. You are enough, exactly as you are.
    • Calm. Even if "calm" is the last thing you feel, give yourself the opportunity to explore it: what does "I am calm" feel like. Can you train yourself to become calm, even in difficult moments?
    • Capable. Capable of dealing with the pressures of work, family, friendships, relationships.
      • Smart. You are mentally equipped with the skills to tackle what is in front of you.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. Your mind will wander, and that's OKAY! You're human, and this is only 10 minutes of your day. Do your best to draw your consciousness back to just the breath, and just your mantra.

When your alarm goes off, gently blink your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes, and slowly pick yourself back up.

I'll be honest: some days, I'd rather flop on my bed and stare blankly at the ceiling for two hours...but there hasn't been one time yet where I've regretted my meditation session once I get down to it. Especially during busy or difficult weeks, it's such an awesome opportunity to practice some self-care and re-set mentally.

Ten minutes a day is all you need, my loves. You can do it - I know it!


PS - If you want to purchase the bolster I mentioned above, use AMANDA20 at checkout for 20% off your purchases of $50 or more. xo



If you’re squeezing your butt in bridge pose, you’re doing it wrong.

Okay guys. Bridge pose.

I’ve heard a lot of teachers say “squeeze your butt a LOT” as you press up. That’s cool, but I don’t necessarily agree with the phrasing — it takes the focus away from strengthening other parts of the body…and if you just think about squeezing/going UP, you’re priming yourself for low back/tailbone pain later.

Instead of thinking about squeezing the butt, do this.

  • Drive deep into your heels.
  • Draw the tailbone towards the heels so that belly can hug the spine.
  • FIRM THE QUADS. Roll the inner thighs down, and use THAT strength to lift your hips higher. Tailbone reaches towards the knees.

    Yeah, sure, the butt may squeeze a little, but think more low glutes (if anything) and make the effort to avoid crunching your low back. Chest broad, deep breaths…you know the drill from there.

If you want a visual, check it out:


Too scared to go to a public yoga class? Read this.

I’m the first to admit that public yoga classes can be crazy-intimidating. Walking into a new space, probably alone, surrounded by people you can only assume have been practicing for years longer than you have…it’s scary. As a new student, it’s easy to assume everyone around you is more strong, more flexible, a better meditator (..or whatever it is).

And I totally get it. Just like any new, intimidating situation, it’s easy to think yourself down the “i’m not good enough” rabbit hole and psych yourself out of ever going to class in the first place.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: a few of the students seated around you are probably just as intimidated as you. And if they’re not…I guarantee they were, at one point.

I certainly was. My first few months practicing, I would walk into the studio almost shaking because I was so nervous. But eventually, something clicked. I realized most of my fears were self-imposed, and I started learning how to drop my ego at the door and just let the practice start to happen naturally.

Take my friend Molly, for example. Last week, she left this on my Facebook wall…

But up until 2 or 3 months ago, I couldn’t get her to a public class if I was on my deathbead. She had the same anxieties that I had when I first started out, and I knew if I could get her comfortable with the fundamentals — but more importantly, comfortable with her beginner’s practice — I could get her in the door at one of my studios.

I worked with her during private lessons for a few weeks, and slowly began to introduce the concept that we’re ALL just practicing — nobody is perfect, and if you’re in the right kind of yoga space, nobody is going to judge you for giving it a try.

Once I finally got her into class, she was hooked! The pieces are slowly beginning to fall into place. Once you start getting in the groove with yoga, it all becomes a little less scary.

Just keep showing up, yeah? 

Hashtags Are Not Spiritual Currency & Inspirational Quotes Are Not Reality

We’ve all seen it: a perfectly-filtered photo of a perfectly-highlighted, skinny blonde in an arm balance on a beach in Malibu….with an inspirational quote in the caption to boot. Hashtag #soblessed on this #beautiful #day.

It’s happening. We’re starting to sacrifice our reality for a homogenous highlight reel. I know we can’t ALL be having the #bestdayever with the #besttribeever, all the time. (Also, are we ready to retire the word “tribe”? The whole subtle cultural appropriation thing is super lame.)

As I scroll through my feed, I can’t help but wonder: is our yoga community becoming too Stepfordian? When did we decide to start hiding our flaws behind filters? Are we replacing storytelling and connection for likes and video views?

I’ll be the first to admit that I fit into a decent amount of the stereotypes out there. I’m a female yoga teacher (in the most oversaturated yoga market in the country), I’m blonde, and yes — I’ve definitely taken a photo or two at El Matador and posted them to my account. I’m rolling my eyes at myself too, don’t worry.

Is there anything inherently wrong with taking yoga photos? Is there anything wrong with being proud of your body, or sharing a story that inspires you? Absolutely not! (I have a lot more feelings on this one, by the way — but we’ll get to that another day.)

As I see it, the real problem lies within what our community’s newfound Instagram addiction represents on a larger scale: the disconnect between social media’s portrayal of yoga, and what yoga inherently is.

Inspirational quotes are social’s “autopilot mode”

You know when someone asks you how you’re doing, and your immediate response is “I’m good. Busy!”

Posting a quote on Instagram is the digital equivalent of that kind of conversation. It’s autopilot. It’s a way for us to do the least amount of communication possible, while still showing face and not ruffling anyone’s feathers too drastically.

Listen, I get it. I do it myself. I see a quote that I love, and I immediately want to share it with my followers because it in some way rang true for me. But the questions we should be asking ourselves before we post — why do I care about this? Why do I connect with this?

That’s the story to share. That’s a way to build connection.

Without words, a story — your “why” — behind it, spewing pseudo-spiritual quotes day after day just feels disingenuous. It creates a faux veil of perfection — a world where yoga people are these eternally happy, green-juice drinking, constantly-inspired, wholly self-realized beings.

Allow me to gently remind you of two things: perfection doesn’t exist, and yoga people are crazy. It’s why we do yoga to begin with.

We need to be better storytellers.

We need to be more comfortable showing, embracing, admitting our flaws. Instead of sharing a generic quote, tell me how you got your scars. Tell me why you’re mad today. Tell me how you’re working through it…or why you’re not. That’s interesting, and it gives something for people to actually connect with — it’s real, it’s honest, it’s human. And it’s not an effing Rumi quote.

Quantity in followers ≈/≠ Quality of Class

I do want to take the time to recognize that Instagram is a tool. Teachers are small business owners, and there’s an inherent responsibility to market your business and grow your classes classes by connecting with students. In that respect, Instagram is a strong brand awareness play and can certainly help get people in the door…initially.

I say “initially”, because we need to address the elephant in the room: just because someone has a lot of followers and a lot of pretty photos, it does not guarantee that they’re the right teacher for you.

A photo might speak a thousand words, but none of those words include someone’s skills and knowledge as a yoga practitioner. There’s no real way to understand someone else’s understanding of the physical and spiritual body by looking at some beach photos they posted, and there’s certainly no way to understand how they’ll share their knowledge with their students.

The way I like to look at it is this: if Instagram can bring students in the door, great. The real test is retention. How many of those students are they keeping and connecting with?

Authenticity, authenticity, authenticity — the more relatable/honest/real the teacher, the more likely it is that students will want to connect.

So…what do we do?

At a high level, we need to be more conscious of what we’re consuming and what we’re creating.

I don’t think it’s fair to point fingers or make claims about someone else’s practice or spirituality, but I do think it’s important to recognize the difference between someone who is reliant on social validation of their practice, vs. someone who is truly living their practice. There are people who are driven by likes on their photos, and there are people who are driven by an innate desire to help and to connect with students…and it’s usually pretty easy to understand which is which when you start to dive in.

As students of yoga, we need to recognize that difference. As teachers of yoga, we need to own that difference and activate ourselves (and our social presences) in more real, honest ways.

I’ll leave you with this.

Followers don’t always equate with quality & attendance…

The right filter won’t let us see into your soul…

& hashtags are not spiritual currency.

What about you? I’d love to hear what you think, too.