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How to Avoid Yoga Teacher Burnout

By Reika Yoga

MON MAY 30, 2022

I recently taught a workshop on sequencing for yoga teachers. I had a lot of fun preparing for this workshop because sequencing is one of my favorite ways to express myself as a yoga teacher. As I was preparing for this workshop, I remembered Jason Crandell, a well-respected yoga teacher, saying that one of the reasons why yoga teachers burn themselves out is because they try to create a new playlist and a new sequence for every single class they teach. I resolved to include a "How to Avoid Yoga Teacher Burnout" section in my sequencing workshop. Then I decided that I should share my tips on avoiding burnout in this month’s blog post :)

I have been a full-time yoga teacher for the past 6 years or so. I used to teach 24-28 group yoga classes per week, so I have had personal experience dealing with "yoga teacher burnout". I would not wish for anybody to have to teach that many yoga classes per week (especially in a heated room). It is not sustainable for our physical bodies or our sanity. But back then I was doing what I had to do to make enough money to survive in Los Angeles as a full-time yoga instructor. 

So let's get started with my tips on how to avoid burnout for yoga teachers:

Reduce the number of classes you teach

I understand that sometimes this is not an option when you need to pay the rent. But if it is at all possible for you to teach less, then teach fewer classes. Especially if, like me, you were teaching 28 classes per week... yikes! Or another option is to find a different source of supplementary income. Something other than teaching yoga in order to give your brain and body a break. I would dog-sit or dog walk as my side gig to make extra money. Just doing something other than teaching yoga, like dog walking where I could be outside and not have to think about yoga for a while, gave me the perfect break from teaching and I was still making money and spending time outdoor :)

Don't lose your personal practice

This is extremely important. When you start teaching too many yoga classes per week, it is easy for your own yoga practice to suffer. Whether it’s a solo home practice, practice at a studio, or a virtual practice you should still keep up with it. Personal practice is an important key to refining your teaching as well as refining being a yoga student. I remember being too busy to maintain my yoga practice, and then I felt like I was an imposter when teaching a class. This was because I was no longer practicing what I was teaching. As a yoga teacher I always want to be a good role model and the living embodiment of what I teach. I feel that is when your teaching becomes more authentic, and genuine. It is extremely important to keep refining your skills. That leads me to the next tip:

Constantly engage in education that excites and inspires you

We need to constantly keep learning. There is a continuous stream of new research being published on the latest methods and theories relating to anatomy, physiology, and the nervous system in the yoga world. We must strive to keep up to date on the newest information. It is imperative for us as yoga teachers to constantly return to the student mindset. You should learn from experts in many fields as well as from senior teachers who tread the same path that you are on. If you find the right teacher you will finish the new training re-inspired :) This leads to the next tip:

Have a teacher/mentor

I have really benefited from having a teacher and/or mentor to turn to in times of difficulty or challenge. Like I mentioned in the previous tip: Someone who has walked a similar path and overcome similar difficulties will already have the answers to your questions. It is helpful to listen to their stories and learn from their experiences. They already have the tools that you need. This could be an organized mentorship that you join or just a mentor/teacher you already have. This person does not necessarily have to even be a yoga teacher.

If you are interested in hearing more about my mentorship program for yoga teachers, learn more about it. 

Always keep a stress management tool/strategy available

When you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious what tools can you use to manage these moments? This is different for everyone. But for me these are some of the tools I employ: practicing restorative yoga for grounding; doing pranayama for balance; journaling or talking with someone to vent my frustrations; and dancing to my favorite music to shake off any residual negative feelings.

Schedule time to rest, not only physically but also mentally

Especially when you know you have a busy day ahead, schedule time for rest. Assign a specific rest period on your phone or on a calendar. Take this time seriously, don't start doom-scrolling on your phone or preparing for your upcoming yoga classes during this period. This is time dedicated to REST. We as yoga teachers need a time that is devoted to resting and recharging, especially during a busy week.

Schedule alone-time (especially if you are an introvert)

I am somewhat of an introverted yoga teacher, so this tip may not apply to extroverted teachers. I have to consciously bring out my extroverted side in order to teach group yoga classes. The extrovert in me can then take charge of the class so that I can be the leader. I have to project my voice to properly guide my students. This can be tiring, especially for introverted teachers. Thus when I have a busy teaching week I need some time alone in between classes to let myself recharge and find the proper balance within myself.

Set clear boundaries with your students, co-workers and bosses

It is not uncommon for teachers to stay after class to chat with their students or coworkers. But when you start spending 30+ minutes after almost every class, it becomes a problem. You are sacrificing your own unpaid time and energy towards someone else. If this fulfills and recharges you then this is not a problem. But when you teach numerous classes your rest time becomes precious. The energy to maintain extraneous relationships can be draining. Creating clear and healthy boundaries with your students, coworkers, and bosses then becomes imperative. Remember, it is ok to say no.

Check your energy levels after you teach a class: Do you feel fulfilled or drained?

Regularly stay aware of your personal energy levels. How do you feel after you teach a specific class, at a specific time of day, at a specific location? Do you feel excited, inspired, and recharged after teaching? Or do you dread going to teach a specific class? Do you feel exhausted or drained? Listen to these messages that your body is sending you. When you continue working at a studio or venue, or even just teaching a specific class that you don't feel good about, you will start to feel resentment towards the class, the students, or the location. If this continues, it might be time for you to let that class go.

I hope these tips are helpful so that you can continue teaching what you love without suffering from burnout.

Much love,

Reika