I’m going to admit it: I’m not always excited to teach a yoga class. Heck, I’m not always excited to do my own yoga practice.
When I tell new teachers this there’s usually a stunned silence and then the questions: “But why are you a yoga teacher if you don’t always love yoga??” Or, “You have the best job in the world! Why don’t you love it every day????”
Let me be clear: I LOVE teaching yoga and I LOVE yoga with a fierce passion. But after teaching it consistently for 10 years, I sometimes lack that creativity I used to have when I first started.
So what’s the deal? If I love yoga and I love teaching yoga why do I sometimes feel uninspired, unmotivated and like I would rather watch 12 hours of Netflix than do yoga?
Teacher Burnout is a real thing.
If you’ve ever taught yoga for a consistently long time (sometimes months or years), you know the feeling of teacher burnout. It’s the dread you feel before teaching a class, like you want to stop teaching and maybe this isn’t the career for me. It’s feeling uninspired to create new yoga routines, feeling unmotivated to do your own practice or unmotivated to stand in front of the room and try to inspire others. You may feel like there’s something wrong with you or that there’s something wrong with yoga. You used to love yoga but maybe you feel the magic is disappearing.
I’m here to tell you: You are NOT alone! It may seem like yoga teachers are constantly inspired and super bubbly, but in fact, every single teacher goes through teacher burnout.
It’s not just yoga teachers. School teachers have long summer and winter breaks because they suffer from burnout too.
The difference is that school teachers get paid over their holiday breaks. As a yoga teacher, you only get paid if you teach. So if you’re trying to make your yoga job a full-time career then you have to show up and deliver your best every single day without taking long weeks off or giving up classes.
So what’s the best way to prevent yoga teacher burnout? Through yoga of course!
As always in yoga, it starts with awareness. Once you’re aware that you’re starting to feel burnout you can implement some easy tips and tricks to help you keep teaching at your best!
Below are 3 of my favorite tips and tricks for preventing burnout without taking off a single day!
1. Change up your own personal practice.
We teach our students not to judge in their practice. So when I’m teaching a lot of classes I know that my body is too tired for the physical aspects of yoga. Without judgment, my yoga practice will evolve into a 5-20 minute pranayama and meditation practice. Some days, I’ll find more energy and practice more. Some days, it’s a struggle to breathe for 5 minutes.
There’s no time limits for yoga. and no rule saying you have to attend group classes. There is no judgment in yoga. Be mindful and do the best you can with the time and energy you have available.
You can also try different styles of yoga. If you’ve never tried Ashtanga or Iyengar or hot yoga, check out a class online or in a studio. Practice a new style and you’ll be more inspired to incorporate some of their teachings into your own classes. There’s so many different styles of yoga available you can always continue to learn and be inspired.
2. Find other forms of exercise that you enjoy.
Yes, you read that right, I’m suggesting you do other exercise besides yoga. I believe yoga is the best form of mind-body unity but anything that raises your vibration is yoga. As a teacher, you have a unique relationship with your body, mind and spirit. I find that when I add in other activities, this relationship evolves and begins to inspire me more. In weight lifting, I’ll place a block between my thighs while squatting and in my yoga class that turns into chair pose with a block! I’ll enter into meditative states while I walk. I practice my breath control during runs. I’m constantly incorporating yoga into various forms of exercise because I can find the mind-body-spirit connection in everything.
I believe that you, as a teacher, can find this relationship in all forms of movement like walking, running, dancing, hiking, weight lifting, Pilates, core classes, TRX, etc. Your yoga will come in various forms throughout your life. Allow it to change and evolve and grow. Take your physical practice off your mat and LIVE your yoga every day. You’ll be inspired once again!
3. Work towards a goal in your classes.
Goal setting can be motivating for you and your students. I’ve been working with a group of women for about 1.5 years. They are all really strong and advancing but I suddenly feel like I’m out of ideas. So I decided that over the next 6 months we are going to work into a Headstand. Their faces lit up when I said it. And I’ve found myself researching poses for headstands, coming up with new routines, teaching more about the bandhas, and taking a whole new interest in their class. We are currently working in to a 5-min Dolphin pose so each week we add on 15 seconds to Dolphin. Having a goal keeps them and myself motivated. You could do this with any kind of pose. Dedicate a whole month to Camel pose. Or work a whole month on arm binds or core conditioning.
Yoga is so vast it doesn’t have to apply to just the physical postures. Work a whole month on pranayama practices or bandha work or the Chakras. I like to do 1 or 2-month “mini-series” classes because it’s hard to think of a new theme each week. By setting the theme at the beginning of the month, I don’t have to wait for inspiration to hit each and every week. Plus, if I know the theme ahead of time, I feel inspired to research new poses each week for that theme.
Teacher burnout is a real thing that will continue to happen throughout your teaching career. It comes and goes in waves and there’s lots of strategies available to help overcome it. You may suffer a few rounds of burnout before you realize what strategy works best for you.
Every yoga teacher faces burnout at some point in their teaching career. It doesn’t make you a bad teacher or mean that something is wrong with you or yoga. It simply means that you need a little inspiration and creativity in your life. Always remember, Teaching Yoga is a Journey, Not a Destination. Enjoy the rollercoaster ride!
One way to overcome burnout is by improving your education and sharing your experiences with other yoga teachers. Join our 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training where we will help you overcome burnout through education, inspiration and the power of community.