What’s one way to end your yoga teaching career quicker than anything else? Burnout.
And, unfortunately, it’s super common. It’s the biggest complaint I hear from yoga teachers, actually. I asked members of my Facebook group what they do to avoid burnout. Read their responses here!
I remember back when I first started teaching yoga in 2006. I was running around like a crazy woman, trying to squeeze as many yoga classes into my week after working my day job. While I was learning a ton, I didn’t have the chance to really uncover my authentic teaching style or put as much effort into planning my classes, like I do now, and I definitely wasn’t taking care of myself properly. It took me a long time to realize that I was actually experiencing burnout but the signs were there!
Many yoga teachers, especially new ones, want to take on as many classes as their schedule will allow, as quickly as possible, so they can start earning an income and gaining experience.
Both reasons are definitely understandable, however, they can quickly cause severe burnout for a few reasons, which we’ll dive into, followed by how to pull yourself out of burnout or completely side-step it in the first place.
But first, what is yoga teacher burnout and how do you know if you’re experiencing it?
Yoga Teacher Burnout–How to Tell If It's Time for Yoga Teacher Self-Care
Some tell-tale signs you are experiencing burnout may be that you:
- Aren’t ever excited to go teach
- Have no inspiration for your classes and no desire to plan out fun, exciting lessons for your students
- Stop practicing yoga yourself
- Begin to actually resent your students because they get to come to yoga classes
- Don’t feel like you have time or energy for other things in life like family or hobbies
- Feel physically, emotionally, and mentally drained
These signs are clear indicators of the need for more self-care within your teaching journey.
Self-Care Tips for Avoiding the Burnout Trap
Focus on having less classes with more students.
Rather than trying to get as many classes on your schedule, focus on filling the couple of classes you do have. This will ensure you have the energy to really make those classes amazing and increase the likelihood that you’ll actually help your students through the practice of yoga. When your classes are consistently thought out and executed well, your reputation will grow - positively. If you constantly show up to classes uninspired or tired, your reputation might grow, but not in the way you want.
Think of the long game.
Adding more to the above point, this strategy is only going to help your career. You will become more well-known for what you bring to the table and build a loyal following. If you burnout in the beginning from teaching too many classes, you’ll never know what you could have really offered to the world. What a shame that would be! The world needs you.
Find your authentic teaching style.
When you try to show up like someone else or replicate another teacher, you lose sight of your true gift. There is NO ONE on this planet exactly like you, with your past experiences and your personality, so work on having the confidence to show up as that person so the right people will be drawn to you. When the right people are coming to your classes, it makes the classes even that much more fun to teach. On the other hand, when you’re not being true to yourself, it gets very exhausting to keep up the charade. It may seem like it’s working for a while, but eventually, either you, or your students, are going to get sick of it.
Create your dream schedule.
This is especially true if you started teaching yoga as a way to live a life more in alignment with what you REALLY want. Did you start teaching yoga so you’d be running all over town, teaching at numerous places, just to make ends meet? Probably not. You probably started teaching because you wanted to help people through yoga - like yoga has helped you and you’re not going to be able to do that if you don’t feel fulfilled in your life. Which brings me to the next two points.
Make time for your personal practice.
This is so often the first thing to go when you begin teaching and the funniest thing about this is that doing more yoga is usually the main reason we start teaching in the first place!
Take jobs that will satisfy your needs.
Your needs may be different at different times in your teaching journey. At first, you may be OK with taking a job where you earn a little less because it’s great experience. However, once the “it’s-great-experience” reasoning runs out, you’re going to be left with an unequal energetic exchange. When you don’t feel valued, you can quickly begin to resent the job, then maybe even the students. Definitely not what you want! Take time to really weigh out the pros and cons of the gig and also value yourself and your skills. You don’t have to take on all jobs, especially when they aren’t right.
Create your own opportunities.
It may be hard to find yoga teaching gigs that pay you what you feel you’re worth. One of the best ways I support yoga teachers in earning more money is to set up their own yoga classes at places OTHER than studios! Let your friends and family know either by talking to them or posting about it on social media, find a place that will let you teach there (like park districts, community centers, dance studios, gyms, etc.), and work out a rent or percentage of total income that works for you both!
Remember your why.
This one is probably the most important! Take this idea even further by journaling with the questions below. Journaling can be an incredible form of self-care, helping you reconnect with your purpose and priorities.
All these tips are integral to ensuring a balanced teaching career and practicing necessary self-care.
Take action: to help you get on the right track, try journaling! Here are some engaging prompts that may help you navigate your yoga teaching career, support you in keeping promises to yourself, and help you remember your priorities.
- Why did you start teaching yoga?
- Why do you teach yoga now?
- Why do you want to show up as fully as you can for your students in each and every class?
- Who is it that you really want to help through your teaching?
- What does your ideal daily schedule look like?
- How can you ensure that you get time each day to connect to your higher self and to what’s important to you?
- How and when can you fit in at least 20 minutes of asana three times this coming week?
- What other practices can you do, maybe in 10 minute spurts throughout your week, that will help you feel grounded and like you’re taking care of yourself?
- How can you show up more authentically?
Download a FREE Mindfulness Guide
Self-Care Tips for Pulling Yourself out of the Burnout Cycle
We’ve all been in a place where we need to make some hard decisions or life changes. If you are in the thick of it here are some helpful tips to try to pull yourself out:
Decide if you need to drop some classes.
Don’t get stuck in the fear that nothing will come to take its place. This will allow you to make the other classes you teach even that much more impactful.
If you teach yoga full time, do you need to get a non-yoga job?
Don’t get stuck in feeling like a failure because you need another job to support this one. If you have a solid income coming in from other sources, it can relieve the pressure off of making all your money from yoga which will give new life to your classes.
Make yourself and your practice your number one priority.
You cannot teach from an authentic, grounded place if you’re not walking the walk. The more grounded you are, the more grounded your students will feel after class.
Take a week off.
Get some subs and re-evaluate your life and your yoga teaching gigs. What needs to change so you can live a life more aligned with what you want?
This can totally reinspire you! Study things that excite you, not things that are popular right now. That stuff will come and go but following your heart will never steer you wrong!
Find a community.
This can be in person or online. For example, my private Facebook group has tons of community-building activities each month, along with a space where you feel supported and can share your struggles as a yoga teacher or yoga student.
In conclusion, yoga teacher burnout is a real and pressing issue that deserves our attention and care. As we've explored throughout this blog, the demands placed on yoga instructors can be intense, both physically and emotionally. The pressures to be constantly serene and balanced, coupled with the demands of managing classes and students, can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
However, it's crucial to remember that burnout is not an inevitable outcome for yoga teachers. By recognizing the signs, practicing self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed, instructors can take proactive steps to prevent burnout and find a sustainable balance in their teaching careers.