Avoiding calling yourself a coach? Read this.

Avoiding calling yourself a coach? Read this.

It started a few years back, once the field of life coaching was generally looked upon as a ‘mainstream’ career path. Client after client would fill out their copy-writing intake questionnaire and inevitably, they’d say something like this:

“I’m a certified life/health/business coach, but I don’t want to be called a coach. Anything but that, please.”

And lest you think this problem is confined to my clientele only — oh, no. An ongoing discussion in a private copy-writing group I co-facilitate reveals that many (if not most) of our collective clients who are coaches prefer NOT to be called so.

At first, I could get down with my clients’ desire for creative titling. After all, calling oneself a Luscious Life Optimizer is a little more riveting than the more standard alternative. But when did the desire to differentiate jump the shark? When is jazzing up your job title taking it too far?

Answer: when your colorful language clutters comprehension.

Write for the lady on the bus.

In undergrad, I studied English with a focus in Creative Writing. I spent many hours circled around a heavy wooden workshop table with other aspiring fiction and memoir writers and poets. One of my earliest fiction writing profs gave us this piece of advice, which I’ve never forgotten: Whatever you write, write for the lady on the bus. She’s not stupid, she’s tired.

Your Right Person/ideal client/perfect site visitor is the lady on the bus. You can call her Marcia or Lily or Farrah or Jane, but she is the woman on the bus. Put her in yoga clothes, a thrift store track suit, or vintage DVF and she’s still the lady on the bus. She’s tech phobic, tech-tastic, or somewhere in between and yep . . . she’s the lady on the bus. When she arrives on your website today she’s feeling assertive/worried/horny/elated/resourceful/hopeful/bummed/incredulous/determined and, you guessed it. Lady. On. The Bus.

The lady on the bus — i.e. your intended client — needs to know whether you’re a coach or whether you’re not a coach. Because if she’s needing someone to help her get clear, feel more of how she wants to feel in her life, and dissolve blocks to what she really wants, then an honest, online life coach (especially one who reads and affiliates with this site) is someone she can trust.

Being clear isn’t for suckers.

Clearly stating what you do, who you do it for, and your relationship to your clients within your business is . . . well, everything.

Fail to establish clarity in the first few seconds on your site about what this website is and you’ve lost them. This is not a scare tactic. This is science. Sure, they might come back again. If you’ve got a great blog and social strategy, you’ll be beckoning them in on the regular.

But why not be clear the first time around and give them a better chance at hiring you?

Why, indeed? Why do so many coaches resist calling themselves a ‘coach’? And if you’re a coach and you’re NOT one who dislikes the title, I know you know others who do.

What’s up with the alternate lingo?

Looking at this situation empathically, I can see where the discomfort maybe comes from. As Creative Director of a boutique copy-writing agency (we write web copy, or words, for small business websites), I know for a fact that many copywriters dislike calling themselves so. ‘Copywriter’ can sound a bit downmarket, or too advertising-y (“Gross, you use words to sell?”), or like the antithesis of a ‘real,’ literary writer or an academician. So we’ve called ourselves ‘wordsmiths,’ ‘hired pens,’ and ‘scribes’ to get around it.

What gives with coaches? I’m gathering from conversations with my own clients that they’re trying to sidestep any ‘bad rap’ the coaching industry may have gotten somewhere along the way. But as I tell them, when you’re a high integrity practitioner and your entire brand conversation and suite of signals reflects that, they’ll get the right picture about you. Secondarily, they may feel that coaching is only ONE tool in the repertoire they use with clients, and I can certainly understand that. ‘Coach’ may not feel holistic or dynamic enough.

So what’s the solution? How do you title yourself or describe your work if you really don’t like the word ‘coach’ but you feel it represents the nature of your work?

Here are three ideas:

1) Infuse your tagline with the fun flair you were trying to capture in a creative title. Or personality-pack the short ‘hey, hello!’ copy that sits in the sidebar with your headshot. (If you’re working with a good copywriter, he or she could already be doing this for you.)

2) Consider alternatives to ‘coach’ that better embody the spirit of the work you do. Look for nouns that describe roles, such as ‘teacher,’ ‘advisor,’ ‘guide,’ ‘mentor,’ ‘advocate,’ ‘champion.’ Avoid making new words out of adjectives (i.e. awesomizer, lovely-fier, or anything-jazzler).

3) Redefine what a coach is on your About page or in your mini bio. For instance, “I’m a life coach who meditates with her clients.”

What do YOU think? In what cases should a coach consider an alternative title? Or have you recently started calling yourself a coach again after trying a more creative title? Share this post on social media and tell us about it.

Abby Kerr is Creative Director of The Voice Bureau, a boutique brand voice development and copywriting agency serving solo-owned and small businesses. She is creator of The Voice Values paradigm for branding. Subscribe to her e-letter, Insider Stuff, for your complimentary brand voice self-assessment. Then tweet her to share your Top 3 Voice Values.

Abby lives in the PNW and is a home cook, a dog mom, and a fiction writer.

 


The 5 must-have elements for a great joint venture

The 5 must-have elements for a great joint venture

 

As a business building strategy, nothing beats an innovative, properly executed joint venture (JV). They are powerful list-builders, visibility boosters and relationship-creators. My business grew leaps and bounds when I published the first issue of my Going PRO magazine – thanks in large part to the 16 other women who signed on to be part of it and help promote it.

I’m sure you’ve seen any number of joint venture projects in action – from telesummits to digital magazines to collaborative ebooks to virtual conferences. A joint venture is simply when more than one business enters into a temporary partnership.

While a great joint venture includes a number of moving pieces to make it come together powerfully, there’s one variable that will literally make or break your joint venture success:

Clear communication with your joint venture partners.

I’ve witnessed countless new (and even some seasoned) joint venturers either piss off prospective partners or get lacklustre results because of this one factor.

So before you create your first (or next) JV, let’s breakdown the five must-have elements of a great joint venture:

1. Create a win-win-win project

 

Before you even approach a prospective partner, you’ve got to do your due diligence to come up with an idea that’s a triple win – it benefits your business, your fellow contributors and your shared audience. If it only serves you — you’ve got more planning to do.

Really identify where you can add value to your partners, and what would excite them enough to encourage them to participate. Your potential partners are busy and likely get a lot of requests. Yours has to cut through the noise and actually add value to their business.

2. Query like a PRO

 

If there’s one place communications fall down, it’s in the initial query. First, as a general rule, do your best to build a relationship ahead of time before you pitch a prospect. Follow them on social media, comment on their blog posts, or simply reach out over email before you make a request. Get on their radar.

Second, put together a proposal request that not only demonstrates the true value of your project and why they should want to be involved, but also respects their time and their audience.

Here are a few big mistakes I see people make when they query:

A quick general email with no details, dates or even any context about the project at all. E.g. “I’d love to have you as an expert in my upcoming Telesummit — would you be part of it? We start interviews soon.” Ummm…no.

The query is all about THEM and why their project is going to be sooo great for your business – without a word of why they think you’d add value to the project. Not convinced.

Not creating a joint venture agreement that all partners sign and commit to. Believe me, get it in writing — be sure your partners are 100% committed to the terms they originally agreed on or your project will suffer. If everyone’s agreed to do a newsletter blast, and only two of the 10 do, your results will reflect it.

Forgetting to build the relationship. Yes, you can likely get partners on board through email, but for a true business relationship to develop, hop on the phone or Skype and connect. Your partnership will be stronger as a result, as will their commitment to the project.

3. Be clear with your rules of engagement

 

While this falls under point #2, it’s so important that it deserves its own section.

Failure to clearly communicate the terms of engagement will ultimately lead to either a) a lot of no’s right out of the gate, b) pissed off prospective or existing partners, and/or c) mediocre results.

Before you send that first query, be clear on exactly what you expect from your partners – from the details of the project itself right through to the promotional requirements once it launches.

While there are a lot of different perspectives on what’s fair to expect, the bottom line is that as the CEO of your business, you get to decide. But once you do, don’t be coy or vague in your communications. Ask for what you want and trust that the partners that are excited enough about the project (see point #1) will say yes.

For example, if you want them to send a solo broadcast, let them know that right out of the gate versus saving it for after they say yes (big no-no!).

4. Give them the tools they need

 

When you ask a group of busy entrepreneurs to sign on to your project, the very least you need to do is give them the tools and information to do it well.

This often includes setting up a private joint venture headquarters page on your site where you share key details, deadlines, and all the promotional materials they’ll need to actively share the project.

While I always encourage my JV partners to share the project using their own voice and style, I do supply some templates, examples and swipe copy for them to use as either a baseline or in the event they get really busy.

Make it easy for them to play and you’ll find their willingness to share goes up.

5. Follow up. Thank them. Follow up.

 

Continue to connect throughout and beyond the initial launch window to share success stories and feedback, or give them a little nudge if they haven’t yet promoted. You’re the steward of the project, and it’s your job to keep them engaged and excited.

As the project wraps, be sure to personally thank each partner for their participation — a little gratitude goes a long way.

And finally, continue to connect with your partners and offer to be of service to them. Great business relationships are worth their weight in gold, so don’t go MIA once the project completes.

 
Business activator + leadership coach Stephanie Pollock is devoted to helping talented women in business GO PRO with their dreams, stepping into the spotlights — and revenue streams — they so richly deserve.

She’s the publisher of Going Pro Magazine, a Top 40 Under 40 changemaker and creator of Beyond PRO: Claim your place as CEO – a leadership program designed specifically for entrepreneurial women.

You can find her online at Stephanie Pollock Media Inc and on Twitter at @steph_pollock.

The 5 must-have elements for a great joint venture

How to model success, not just copy it

 

(This is a guest post by Stephanie Pollock)
 

Every few months, a wave of murmured frustration sweeps across my social media circles. Private Facebook groups light up with comments, pleas for help and genuine anger over what continues to be a hot button issue in the online marketing world (particularly with coaches): copying.

“A client I worked with swiped my home page copy!”

“I found a direct cut and paste job of my sales page – the one I worked on for HOURS – on someone else’s site.”

“But that’s my ______ (insert: turn of phrase / program name / product idea / etc). She’s in my world – she KNOWS I’m using that…I don’t get it.”

Waking up to find your ideas, words and design being used by someone else (usually someone you know) feels awful, especially after pouring your blood, sweat and tears into your work and consistently seeking out ways to be distinct in a very crowded marketplace

And while we hear, “copying is the sincerest form of flattery,” it means very little when it compromises our livelihood and professional reputation.

The question many of us ask is, “Why does this keep happening? What’s missing here?”

As coaches, we know that inauthentic actions (like copying) usually come from fear. The business owner who copies usually does so because they haven’t yet stepped powerfully into their own uniqueness and voice. As they navigate the new world of business, they creatively ‘swipe’ from those whom they deem successful in hopes of translating that to their little corner of the web.

It’s not ok – but on some level, we get it and can have compassion. We were once struggling newbies too.

But after hundreds of conversations about this with friends, colleagues, and clients, I believe there’s another challenge in this copying equation – one with extremely blurred lines of grey.

At the most basic level, there’s an inherent lack of understanding on what constitutes copying and what’s just creative inspiration. Let’s talk about the key differences between the two, so you can use this as a guide the next time you find yourself revisiting another coach’s copy a few too many times.

Creative Inspiration & Modelling:

All creatives, artists and business owners draw inspiration from the world around them, whether that be tapping into other markets to get fresh ideas or scanning the competitive landscape to understand where they can find their point of distinction.

Modelling looks like taking high level ideas and finding a very personalized way to bring them into your business. It’s an expansive perspective – one that says, “Wow – that’s really cool. How can I take the pieces that really resonate with me and use them as a guide?”

For example: let’s say you come across a coach who runs high-end retreats in remote mountain locations. These retreats also include a suite of luxury touch points like: yoga classes, massages, a spa morning, local, organic food and a swag bag filled with speciality items.

After checking out their sales page, you instantly go into “I want to do that too!” Perfect – use this to inform and inspire you. Get clear on the specifics of what you’re drawn to — is it the retreat itself, the luxury approach, the beautifully branded sales copy and design, or a combo of it all? Once you understand where you’re most inspired, you can translate these concepts in your own business. As Danielle LaPorte says, “By observing our envy, we shine light on our true desires.”

(Quote reference: Danielle LaPorte)

It’s great to be inspired by others and to learn from those who have gone before. It can also serve as a powerful guide as you get clearer on your unique point of view and brand. The key is to keep it conceptual and elemental – and then use your own ideas, voice and brand when it’s time to get granular. And remember that modelling is never a replacement to actually digging in, doing the work and bringing your own business brand to life.

Copying + Plagiarism:

In contrast, copying goes way beyond inspiration into mimicry and plagiarism. It’s a limited perspective – one that says, “I wish I had that. I’d love for my coaching business to be that successful. Maybe if I do what she’s doing, it’ll work for me too.”

And yet, it rarely does. While modelling relies on personalization and effort, copying takes the easy way out and reeks of inauthenticity. And the readers know it – they can sense that something is off, even if they can’t articulate it. Naturally, this confusion translates to the bottom line – resulting in poor conversion.

For example: let’s say that you’ve been wanting to expand beyond 1:1 coaching and create your first group program. You’ve been plugging away at your idea for months, and not getting much traction. One day you stumble across the sales page of a woman you know through Twitter. You read it and your breath catches as you realize that she has PERFECTLY captured your ideal program. It’s exactly what you want. And the branding, naming and copy is killer to boot. Envy washes over you.

It propels you into action as you start to work on your program. You’ve got her sales page up in a browser window, and your word doc in another. You start to map out your program – toggling back and forth between yours and hers – swapping out verbs, adjectives and numbers – but liberally keeping the premise, positioning and perspective.

By the end – the copy IS different. It’s not a copy and paste. But it might as well be. Because it’s not really yours. The words may be different, but the spirit and intention behind it isn’t. And that’s copying. Period.

Keep Copying in Check with these 5 Tips:

  • Go on a mini digital sabbatical when you’re actively creating something new — don’t get distracted by what others are doing. It’s a slippery slope.
  • Furthermore, unsubscribe to any sites or newsletters that trigger you into comparison mode.
  • Before hitting publish, review and ask yourself, “Does this sound like me? Is this an accurate representation of my brand?” Better yet, ask someone you trust to review as well.
  • Use inspiration from others to dig deeper into how you can bring your own brilliance forward. See it as an opportunity to go the extra mile with your ideas. “How can I make this so unmistakably me?”
  • Trust yourself. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned coach — the world needs your voice – your authentic you. Trust in that and create accordingly.

 
Business activator + leadership coach Stephanie Pollock is devoted to helping talented women in business GO PRO with their dreams, stepping into the spotlights — and revenue streams — they so richly deserve.

She’s the publisher of Going Pro Magazine, a Top 40 Under 40 changemaker and creator of Beyond PRO: Claim your place as CEO – a leadership program designed specifically for entrepreneurial women.

You can find her online at Stephanie Pollock Media Inc and on Twitter at @steph_pollock.

How to Plan your First Retreat

How to Plan your First Retreat

 

Is one of your big coaching dreams to host a live retreat? Mine too.

The idea of spending a long weekend nestled away in the mountains (or on the beach) with lovely clients, leading workshops, and bonding over good wine? Yes, please.

I’m four months into planning my first retreat, and holy moly, there is so much to do.

Although I haven’t officially hosted a retreat yet (that’s happening soon), I have learned some super helpful information over the past few months of the planning process.

I can’t speak to leading a great retreat, but I can share what I wish I knew before getting started.

What I wish I knew before planning my first retreat:

Find a collaboration partner.

One of my intentions for 2014 was to host a retreat, but I felt so overwhelmed by the idea of finding the perfect accommodations, planning the schedule, and marketing the event, that I began to shut down. But then I joined forces with a fellow coach and we decided to co-host the retreat. Almost immediately, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Identify your strengths.

If you’ve decided to work with a partner to plan your retreat, you’ve put yourself in the awesome position to split the work in half. Begin by identifying your strengths (sending heartfelt emails, making phone calls, writing magnetic copy, creating a solid budget, etc.) and decide who is in charge of which tasks.

Get clear on your dream attendee.

Similar to your dream client, but perhaps slightly different. Who do you want attending your retreat? What are their biggest struggles? How will this retreat be the perfect match for them?

Choose a location.

This should be one of the first decisions you make because it will influence your budget and the remainder of your planning. To get started, decide what’s most important to your dream attendee and what type of setting will best serve the type of retreat you’re hosting. Be sure to consider the geography, the sleeping arrangements, local attractions, etc.

Create a budget.

For some of you, this step will come before choosing a location, but I found it easier to fully flesh out the budget after the location was finalized. You’ll want to include accommodations, taxes, fees, catering, gift bags, transportation, excursions, etc.

Find a caterer.

Unless you plan on cooking for several people three times a day, it’s time to start looking for a caterer. Once you know your location, google is a good place to begin.

Other important questions to consider:

  • Is there a deposit required? Is it refundable?
  • Are there additional taxes and fees?
  • Do your meals allow for food allergies?
  • Will you provide airport transportation?
  • Will you have your attendees sign a contract/agreement?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to begin creating your marketing strategy.

How do you plan on spreading the word about your fab retreat? Will you share it with your newsletter subscribers? Host a blog tour? Plan a webinar? The options are endless.

Now go rock that retreat, coach!

 

Ashley Wilhite is the founder of Your Super Awesome Life, where she helps women live a life they love while creating a freedom-based business. You can find Ashley on Twitter, Facebook and get your free copy of “The 5 Things That Hold You Back From Living the Life You Love.”

How to biggify without the hype

How to biggify without the hype

 
A few months ago, a “business and success change agent” reached out to me, desiring a quick Skype chat. The quick Skype chat request is one that I usually resist, because spending more time online than I already do wouldn’t be great self-care.

But, alright. I did the one thing that I typically never do: I ignored the sort of odd “red flag” feeling within me and said yes to the Skype chat.

I got on at the appointed time. She never showed. Of course.

In the 15 minutes that I waited on Skype, just in case she was going to show, I spent time digging around her website, which I hadn’t had the time to do when I’d quickly said yes to the request.

That’s when I realized that this Skype flake-out was a blessing in disguise.

 

Biggify vs. Hype

While I usually believe that most people need help stepping into their greatness, acknowledging themselves for their accomplishments, there is a difference between biggification and hype.

Biggifying yourself is necessary in business and the world of work. When you accomplish something, people want to hear about it! If your felted dolls business became popular on Oprah, but now you’re a life coach and think it’s not relevant to mention that, I’d argue that it’s actually good to share on your website that you had enough creativity and ingenuity to get noticed by Ms. O herself for your felted dolls business.

However, “hype” is about fudging the truth a bit. Hype would be wording things on your site in such a way that people might think that Lady O called you up for coaching advice.

Biggifying yourself is when you leave your corporate job and you make it clear on your website that you increased profits by 15% or were in a directorial position, and that company trusted you to get things handled, and you make it clear to people that there are aspects of those skills that are translatable to the services you provide.

Hype–and this is a big one I see in the coaching world, unfortunately–is working for a corporation in a capacity that has nothing to do with self-promotion forms of marketing, and then saying that you’re experienced as a business coach for small entrepreneurs when you’ve not created a proven track record of being able to land guest posts, rock social media, etc. There is a vast world of difference between working for a corporation that has a well-established brand with that steady bi-weekly paycheck…and confronting the lonely computer screen after starting your first blog that has no traffic yet, wondering what in the world your brand is all about and how anyone will ever notice it, with a savings account that seems to only be getting smaller.

(This isn’t to say that many biz coaches don’t leave the corporate world and hike up their britches and figure out how to rock the online world. The difference is whether one biggifys what they actually accomplished, or hypes things up to make it seem like there’s a ton of direct experience or success in the solopreneur arena, when there isn’t.)

 

Un-Hype This

Back to this Skype chat that never was. Here are a few bits from my experience with Coach Hype:

1.) She had her VA send the email saying she “loved” my work. Looking back, if she loved the work so much, she’d probably send the email, herself. This smacks of the sort of self-importance that lead P.Diddy to hire an umbrella handler in the 90s.
 

2.) She had a website plastered with logos from Fox, Martha Stewart, and NPR. A Google search for this person, who has a very unique name, turned up positively…zilch. Nothing. Not a single link (other than her bio).

It’s obvious that it’s not good to outright lie and put up such logos on your website. I’m hoping that that isn’t the case, here. Perhaps this person had a tenuous, fleeting, one-second interaction with these companies at some point in her life, and now she’s milking that connection, or that for some reason, all of those companies just happen to have deleted every interview with her from their archives. Hmmm….

 
3.) Quoting from the video at the top of her website, “I’m also the best-selling author of the book _______” So I start googling her book, and I find it on Amazon. At that point, I started to wonder if she knew whether or not Amazon provides handy tracking stats on books that can actually verify whether or not your book is a best-seller. This one was not.

As a side note, I realized that her website looked visually similar to Marie Forleo’s website. I’m not talking about a similar color scheme. We’re talking about a whole lotta things looking the same. Additionally, the name of this coach’s upcoming signature program sounded awfully similar to Marie Forleo’s signature program, Rich, Happy, and Hot, both in title and content. Finally, the coach claims to be a seven-figure earner, but there were astonishingly few comments or social media shares of her blog posts. Of course, I don’t have her tax records, but usually seven-figure earners have raving fans who lurrrrve to interact with them and share away, not blog post after blog post with zero comments.

 

Fudging

This is not the only example that I’ve seen of this, lately.

I’ve received emails in which someone said that they had 20, 30, 50-thousand subscribers to their newsletter. They had no social media following to speak of, conveniently. The one number that no one can verify–their newsletter subscribers–is the one number that is gargantuan, with no other indications of a platform that supports that number. Hmmm.

Or perhaps the invitations to be part of a “platform of [insert huge number] of users,” with that huge number actually reflecting the total number of people who know what a podcast is, not necessarily the total number of actual subscribers that you have for your particular podcast.

You can’t say that because you’ve created an app for iPhone users, that the audience for your app is “14 million people” because that was the number of iPhones sold in 2010. At least, you can’t say that and actually be honest. That’s fudging. An audience shows up for an event at an appointed time; an audience is not all the potential humans on earth who could have potentially bought a ticket for an event.

 

Biggify yourself: An Exercise

I’m trusting that you don’t do any of this. I’m sharing these details in part because I want to show you what to be on the lookout for when someone’s potentially hyping something up, and it doesn’t quite stand alone.

I know that you, Dear Reader, want to earn your credentials, not kinda-sorta fudge them. You might even have a wee touch of the Imposter Complex. I get it. You cringe at the thought of ever being “that coach” who hypes up something.

So here’s an exercise to biggify, without the hype:

Challenge #1: Consider the three clients you’ve most loved working with. What were 3 outcomes from working with you that you can say, with reasonable certainty, they achieved? Think in terms of the tangible (X number of dollars in increased income) and intangible (they reported to you that they felt less reactive and more confident).

Now ask yourself: Are you telling people, clearly, that these are potential outcomes of working with you?

Challenge #2: Connect with clients from a few months or years ago. How are they doing? What’s been the most important takeaway from your time with them?

Now ask yourself: Are you telling people, clearly, that these are the potential long-term outcomes of working with you?

Challenge #3: Have you been published, online? Are you part of any groups? What did you do in your last job? Or is there genius for you to claim in having been a bohemian spirit who did things totally and wholly her own way, outside of the school/monetary/rack up awards and accomplishments system?

Now ask yourself: Are you letting that show up as a celebration in your online space?

 

Of course, tell people the truth of what you’ve created. If you’ve only cultivated small potatoes, so far, then tell the truth about your small potatoes and pair it with your passion and make it clear that you’re ready and willing to learn more and hone your skills.

HAPPY SELF PROMOTION = RADIATE your passion + STATE THE FACTS of what that passion generates – the results it brings for you and your customers.
Danielle LaPorte

 
Kate Swoboda (aka Kate Courageous) is a life coach who teaches people how to work with fear and practice courage. She’s the founder of www.CoachingBlueprint.com and creator of the Coaching Blueprint digital program.

4 Ways to Practice the Yoga of Coaching

4 Ways to Practice the Yoga of Coaching

 

I spent the early days of my coaching practice hiding under the illusion that my devotion to yoga was an entirely separate holiness from that of serving my clients. Sure, I claimed my yogic habits proudly on my “About” page, but isn’t everyone a yoga teacher these days? It felt so trendy, and besides- I didn’t want to brag. I wanted to be accessible to everyone, even those who don’t particularly care to touch their toes.

I wasn’t entirely foolish enough to believe the hours spent in Lotus had no effect on my coaching practice. I knew that my yoga made me a strong, grounded presence for my clients. But it was only recently that I realized: we can powerfully and directly apply the simple tools of a yogic practice- something we may think is only for our personal benefit or reserved for our time off- to our work with clients, both in person and long distance.

4 ways to take your asana off the mat and into your practice.

1.) Drop in. We all know the importance of taking time to sit and arrive on the mat before diving into asana, and it’s just as important for our practice with clients. They probably just rushed to make our call or appointment on time (or maybe we did!), leaving them still spinning and ungrounded from their day and barely able to pull their thoughts together. I start by asking my clients to close their eyes, take a few deep belly breaths, and scan their body to notice what is immediately present. On your end of the phone or in your office, create a sacred space to hold the energy. Light a candle or some incense, create a small altar, or whatever resonates to allow you to drop in and become centered. Your clients will feel the difference in you and will appreciate the opportunity to center themselves before diving in.

2.) Teach your clients to breathe. On the whole, we’ve completely forgotten how to breathe. We inhale only a tiny percent of our 6 liters of capacity and rarely exhale fully enough to release the stagnant air. This has serious effects on the nervous system and detoxification process, leaving our clients with decreased capacity to deal with stress and anxiety and seriously decreased energy- two of the primary complaints out there! I assign a simple breath practice to almost every client: 10 conscious breaths, either first thing in the morning or just before bed. Have your client put one hand on her belly so she can feel herself breathe fully into her diaphragm, then count to four as she inhales slowly through her nose. Have her pause for one to two moments, then exhale fully. Simple. Powerful.

3.) Bring awareness back into the body. Quite a few of our clients will come to us with experience in traditional “talk therapy”, which invites them to share purely from a mental space of thinking about their struggles. But this disconnects them from their body and the felt experience of the desire or challenge they’re currently processing. So when a client shares a fear, for example, ask her to put her feet firmly on the floor, close her eyes and feel where that fear is living. What qualities does it have? Does it travel at all? Bringing her attention back into her body will calm and center her, and with that presence she will be able to gain insight into the deeper levels of experience and emotion.

4.) Savasana. My favorite pose, and the most important! Close the session by allowing a few moments of integration- not lying on the floor necessarily, but invoke a similar vibe. Take a few slow breaths together to see if any last thoughts or insights percolate to the surface to be shared. Let the juice of the session sink in and allow the depth and power to reverberate! You’ve done good work, stretched the edges, and helped your client learn from her body. Honor her presence and commitment, and thank her.

Namaste, y’all.

 

Heather Day is a Transformational Coach, yoga teacher, and a guide for those who seek to live a Heart Centered Life. She helps people who have fallen out of balance to return to center with intuitive and practical tools for body, soul, and lifestyle. You’ll find her eating papaya, teaching yoga and coaching from her home in Costa Rica. Get her free meditation series to overcome fear and find your own Heart Center, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.