Most people think yoga teaching is a glamorous life of traveling and leading workshops all over the world, then coming home to packed classes.
When you first start teaching yourself, you expect full classes the moment you step into a studio. After all, yoga is the thing to do and everyone does it.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
The Reality of Yoga Teaching
In reality, you’ll teach 10, 12, 15 classes a week, running all over town trying to make a living teaching yoga. In many classes, no one shows up. When a student finally walks in the door, you are so grateful. They’ll tell you how great the class is and promise they'll be back, but they’ll never return.
As you teach week after week, month after month, year after year, however, you gradually see an increase in students. You develop a nice following. You have full classes, finally.
Still, building your livelihood, you start neglecting yourself. Actual classes are only a part of being self-employed—schedules, budgets, and taxes are a whole other story. Teaching with injuries and no health insurance, without vacations, without rest, it all starts to add up.
Suddenly, you can't see how you will get through another class that day. You love what you do; you just need a break from it all and treat yourself as well as you tell your students to treat themselves. Here are five ways to avoid yoga teacher burnout.
1. Go on a mini vacation.
If given your schedule or finances, you can't afford a real fancy vacation just yet, take a mini vacation.
If you have one day off per week, see if you can have your classes covered the day before and the day after your day off. Try to get as many days off as you can without losing too many days teaching. Plan what you will do ahead of time.
Perhaps you just want to stay home and sleep in; that's fine. You can go on local trips to places you love or have always wanted to visit. You don't have to spend a ton of money. Don't do anything yoga related during this time, and don't feel bad about it.
2. Go on a real vacation.
If you can go on a real vacation, go and explore. Travel with a friend to share hotel costs, couch-surf, or find ways to travel cheaply. Find subs and don't worry about coming back to empty classes once again. If you have a following, sure, they might like your sub, but they come to your classes after all.
Have faith in your students. They know that there are other teachers out there and have probably tried quite a few teachers along the way already. They come to your classes for a reason.
3. Expand your knowledge.
Take a yoga workshop. I know I said before to not do anything yoga related, but in a workshop, you aren’t stressed out about what you are supposed to be teaching; you are being taught. You’ll be amazed at how learning revitalizes your teaching, not to mention your own practice.
You’ll be inspired and come back with new ideas to share, and your students will love it. And if they don't love it, at least they will know that you are learning too and will love that. They will sense your full, positive energy.
4. Treat yourself.
If you can't take any days off at all because you don't get paid if you don't teach, you can still treat yourself. Create an at-home spa day or spa evening if you have early classes on a certain day. Take a bath with scented oil, candles, and a good non-yoga book.
Give yourself a manicure. Get a nice massage. Do what you want to do to feel better. Shut off your phone. Tell others who may live with you that you don't want to be disturbed for the next few hours. This is your time. Enjoy it.
Slow down and breathe. You know how important that is. Do you actually do it? Even I have to remind myself to breathe sometimes.
You are helping people every time you show up to teach, and you’re doing the best you can at this point in your life. Don't be too hard on yourself. We are all learning and growing together. Know that you can't do it all, and accept when you need help and ask for it.
Do you often feel burnt out in your yoga teaching? What are your tricks for dealing with yoga teacher exhaustion?