How To Overcome Yoga Teacher Burnout
Photo by Amber Karnes
When I first started teaching yoga, I was so enamored I couldn’t possibly imagine ever growing tired of or disillusioned with the role. I took on more and more classes and more and more students until teaching yoga was all I did, in terms of paid work. I thought I had it made. I loved my work.
I’m not entirely sure when my own practice started to suffer or if it ever really did, but I eventually became aware that much of my own practice was more about working on sequences and various modifications than it was about meeting the needs of my own body and mind. I started to realize that I was tired a lot of the time, and in terms of mood, I was beginning to flat-line. I wasn’t depressed or down, but I wasn’t really joyous or excited either. I was depleted. I gave so much to my students and my classes that I had very little left for myself. In terms of prana, I was giving it all away. It is difficult to live that way for long, even for a yoga teacher.
As a yogi who wants to be of service to your students, to hold a safe space and welcome people into a practice community, you also have to set aside some time to replenish the energy you have used for others. It’s hard to face the fact that, without support and regular retreat style breaks, for most of us, it is not sustainable on a long term basis.
So what did I do about my burnout?
I first tried getting regular Thai massage, which helped, but I soon realized it was just a way of getting by rather than a cure for the problem.
I finally had to admit to myself that I was, indeed, experiencing burnout. When an opportunity to go back to another form of work that I love arose, I took it. I scaled my teaching commitments back to the most basic, manageable level, and I asked my small group of remaining students to come on board as peers to support each other, including me, as we continued our yoga journey together.
While those options aren’t available to everyone, the underlying message is this: if you start to feel something other than elation for teaching yoga, do something different. Teach less. Teach somewhere else. Teach different people or a different kind of class. Mix teaching yoga with other work. Take a break for 6 months or longer. Take a weekend workshop, or go on a long retreat. Swap teaching a class for taking a class. Or just do something completely different altogether.
You will be a better teacher and a better version of yourself if you can find inspiration and learn to re-love yoga all over again. The two classes I teach a week now are three of the best hours of my week.
What are some things you do to stay inspired and keep yourself from feeling teacher burnout?