Yoga Teacher Burnout
Many yoga teachers, from time to time wonder if they need a break from teaching yoga.The signs and symptoms they quote include:
• They find themselves continually doing the same thing over and over again. They overhear others say this about them as well.
• They feel their cues sound somewhat dull, and monotonus. There is no excitement in their voice and they know that they are not really up to going that extra mile.
• They dread coming in to teach. Sure, sometimes family, and other commitments get in the way and all teachers need to step back, but if it’s all in a person’s head, then it’s time to address it.
• They snap at students over simple little comments or questions the student has, feeling that the student should already know the answer.
• They get sick too often. Sickness is not random. The immune and nervous systems react to how you deal (or don’t deal) with stress. So if you’re sick, perhaps your body has found a way for you to slow down the only way you will listen.
• They themselves are not attending classes or giving variety to their personal practice. Many of them don’t even have a personal practice at this point.
• They find themselves eating processed/fast/junk food, and not taking the time to do to for themselves what they tedach others should do to themselves.
• They just don’t show up. Even worse, they forget and don’t get a fill-in.
• Their body hurts. They are constantly hurting themselves, and are unwilling to point the finger at themself as the teacher.
• Finally, their personal practice is forceful and angered, or boring and unmotivated, leaving them more hostile or withdrawn than they were before.
To all yoga teachers, if you have felt this way, you need not worry. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
As a yoga teacher, teacher trainer, business owner, partner, employee, parent, child, friend - one, some or all of the above, you need to embrace balance. As your duties and life gets fuller, if you are not willing to delegate because you feel responsible to do it all, then you will get sick, feel ordinary about teaching, and take it out on your loved ones. However, if you allow yourself to enjoy other things not related to yoga, and come upon the realisation that liking those things does not make you less of a yogi, part of the burden will be lifted.
Life is always shifting us, and as you grow, things you are doing may need to fall away, such as teaching certain classes, being a part of xyz groups or boards you sit on, friends, jobs, what your personal practice needs…regardless…and you must be open to this shift.
You are only fooling yourself if you think you can do it all, wose still, if you think you need to…and this goes for everyone. You will find that your best moments on the mat arise when you are constantly, daily, and as a devotee seek balance in your personal practice, teaching and daily living. Make decisions based on what is best for you and in the end it will be what is best for your students, even though they may not know it yet.
Here are some suggestions/solutions:
• Cut down on the amount of classes you teach. Burn out happens a lot, even in you are a yoga teacher. Every six months or so, take some time to step back, breathe and reevaluate your schedule to see if you need to make a change.
• Take a break! Yes, perhaps you need a leave of absence from teaching all together to allow yourself the time off to prioritise your schedule and figure out if you still want to teach at all.
• Prioritise your personal practice. What makes a good teacher is not necessarily the training they take (although good training surely sets the foundation) but how they continue to stay a student. Commit to a once a month rule - take the time to come to a class at least once in a month at the studio. This will helps you learn anew, and keep up your personal well-being.
• Get involved in other activities. Just because you teach yoga does not mean you can’t enjoy other activities as well, such as: walking, hiking, biking, tennis, swimming, camping, crafting, scrap-booking, sewing, cooking, reading, dancing, being a parent, sport. When you find balance you enjoy more of what you do.
• Stop and eat good, nourishing food. When was the last time you actually asked your body what it wants to eat today? Let go of the picture that you need to be a raw foodie or vegan to be a good, spiritual yogi. Eating what your body needs is more important than restricting foods you think it shouldn’t have, or only filling it with well…!!. Sometimes we need to come to terms that we may need to carry a bit more weight to enjoy a healthy life.
• Delegate. If you have so much going on that you’re drowning a slow miserable death, dig yourself out by delegating tasks that you just don’t need to be doing. We often feel we have to do it all, but in reality doing it all does not allow you to do what you do best, to the best of your ability. We are all gifted with different talents so that we can work together as a team.
• Get enough sleep. This is harder than it looks, if you simply trade sleep for mindless activities, such as watching T.V. and then pay for it the next day when you don’t get up early to practice or are crabby because you short changed yourself the deep slumber you need to recharge your batteries.
• Practice saying yes and no. Which one do you struggle with? Work on saying these simple yet powerful words and pay attention to what you need to work on saying more of. Trying to help everyone else and neglect yourself will only work for so long, so is it yes or no?
• Establish some sort of daily devotional time. Read the Bhagavad Gita or Yoga Sutras, a daily devotional book, journal, meditate and or pray. This time will allow you the clarity your direction and establish gratitude for your journey, your practice, your teaching and all those who join you.
• Finally, write down why you love teaching yoga, why you are passionate about it, and what it gives back to you. If you can’t come up with anything that's good for you, then perhaps it’s time to shift directions. If , on the other hand, you have a long list of passionate answers then it’s time to reestablish a schedule and routine that will best serve and honour that.
Unlimited blessings. Namaste.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.