Top 3 Most Important Tips to Avoid Yoga Teacher Burnout
My teacher trainings were both wonderful: I was with the coolest people, in the most beautiful places, eating the healthiest foods, and having openings that I had not expected. They were both fabulous experiences that I will remember always.
But yoga teachers have to graduate from a training and go into the real world, where there are real students who want results, studio and gym owners who have expectations from your class. There are many ways to lose the vibrancy of your training.
There are ways that fear and fatigue settle in, unknown to you. No longer are you on a mountain in Costa Rica or a forest in Bali. Not even cuddled up comfortably with other teachers on the same level, supported and encouraged by them. No, the front of the room is a lonely place sometimes.
And even after pushing through the first classes and becoming a rockstar teacher, it is easy to lose the passion, the vitality of your teaching. It can be easy to burn out, to come to the job you love and realize that you have not nurtured your relationship with this calling, this job. That something might have gotten lost, as in any relationship.
I've been there, and there are some ways I have moved up and over this hump and reignited my fire for what I do. And boy, do I love it. What fun, what an honor. I've been through a lot of phases as a teacher, and I'm here to tell you: there are direct paths through all of them.
Top 3 Most Important Tips for All Yoga Teachers to Prevent Teacher Burnout:
1. Teaching is not practicing---don't lose your personal practice:
The sooner you realize this fact, the better your teaching.
If you're like me, you started doing yoga and realized that you loved it very much. Wanted to do it every day, were drawn to it, praised the way it changed your life. You thought: I want this to never sneak away from me. Therefore, I'm going to become a teacher. That way, I can do yoga every day and get paid for it! Spread it around!
Then you stop rolling out your mat at home. You stop going to the studio. Your morning practice shuffled off first, and then your afternoon practice took a dive too. Those lunchtime power hours were too much after teaching a morning class.
But what you don't realize is this: teaching a class is giving your energy. It is giving away your mental and physical energy. It is hard work. Your students come to you to be uplifted and revitalized. It is not a class for you. It is for them. You are not there to practice. You are there to guide them to more energy, and you must expend yours in the process.
You don't get to close your eyes and breathe. To meditate and focus. You don't get to be inside your body because you must stay in your mind to lead the class well. Count the breaths, equal holds on both sides, observe your students, assist your students, keep up with the music, think of the next pose, watch the time, etc.
But when you are a student, when you are loyal to your own practice, when you show up on your own mat, you get to receive that energy. You get to be revitalized. you get to be assisted, listen to the music, be inside your body, fully lose yourself in savasana. It is your nourishment. It is a reception.
You don't have to give anything when you practice, just move and breathe and be.
So fill up your gas tank. Don't become depleted. Yoga is, after all, one of the ways you filled yourself up before. Energize yourself with your own yoga practice. Take care of your mind and body and spirit the way you did before you started teaching.
Just because you roll out your mat to teach every day does not mean you're coming to your mat. There's a big difference. Deepen your relationship with your own practice. Let your teaching be a new reason to come to the mat. A reason to nourish and energize yourself through your yoga practice.
2. Pretend your students have had trauma recently and really need you:
Because if they have access to the news or just human interaction in general, they have had trauma, and they do need it. You know everyone NEEDS it. But these are the privileged few who made it.
So it's not a stretch to make-believe these people have just had the worst morning/day/night of their lives. And entertain the fact that they really might have. They are coming to you from the rope of a lifesaver, and it's up to you to pull them back up into the boat.
There's nothing worse than walking into a class to teach it and feeling like you need to or want to be doing something else. And the students are there, excited to be there, to get away from the job they hate, an exhausting day at home, a horrible day at school.
To stay away from the shame of being a reluctant lifeguard for these flailing, hurting people, go all in. I've never seen anyone save someone's life hesitantly, negatively, resisting the moment.
Even if they are smiling and laughing, talking about their awesome boyfriends and their helpful moms, the beautiful weather, the bonus they just received--pretend it is a front. Pretend they are pretending to save face.
There is always someone in the room who is struggling. Zero in on the person who looks like he or she really does need lifting, healing and energizing.
If no one appears to be struggling, pretend they are all pretending. They probably are a little bit. Pretend little traumas have been happening all week for them, or a big one that hurt them in startling ways. And they've come here to forget about the pain, to let go.
That way, you feel honored to be the one to help them do that. Sometimes the practice is better than a therapist.
Again, it's not very far at all from the truth, may even be spot on. What's hard is when you don't have to pretend, when you know there's been trauma. Then you know it will be a great class. You'll send your love, you'll do your best. Because your service is so needed. And because you got this.
3. Remember and meditate on your big intention as a yoga teacher:
If you don't have a big intention or mission statement, all you need to do is ponder the spiritual reason you wanted to teach. Go back to the blood and guts of why you were motivated to become a yoga teacher.
Write that big intention or mission statement down. Word it as beautifully as you can. Look at it before you go to teach. Place it on your desk, where you spend time. Keep it in your car, in your yoga bag. Wherever it needs to be. Look at it as much as it takes.
Your teaching is a part of your service. It is a part of your part in this world. Meditate on your big intention before you go to teach a class. Give yourself a few sacred minutes of silence. Visualize, vocalize the mission statement/intention of your teaching as much as you can.
You are blessed to be a yoga teacher, and your big intention is a part of why. You get to be a channel for love, for God, for peace. It's a beautiful thing. Let your mission statement buffer that. Maybe it will take you to a place of gratitude for your teaching career even on the busiest days. Even on the worst days.
As a gift to the yoga teachers working hard out there, you are welcome to some free playlists for your classes from SR:
What about you? Do you have some good tips the rest of us need to know? What have your experiences of yoga teacher burnout taught you?
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