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4 Practical Methods to Avoid (or Overcome) Yoga Teacher Burnout

Jenn Bauer
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While teaching yoga brings joy, gratitude, and wellness, it can also burn you out. Finding the inspiration, creativity, and energy to lead a class, whether it’s a few times a month or many times a week, can be a real challenge, especially for a new yoga teacher. We’ve found a few ways to combat the burnout, help you more easily prepare for class, reconnect with why you wanted to teach, and find that all-important sense of community.
 

Follow these 4 methods to avoid or overcome yoga teacher burnout:

 
 

Method 1. Plan, But Simplify

As a new yoga teacher, I spent hours prepping for each of my classes. I poured over my books and Pinterest boards looking for inspiration to theme a class, wrote and tried out sequences on my mat to make sure the timing fit, and matched it all up to the perfect, not-too-mellow playlist.
 
I never want to “just wing” a class. My students deserve – and pay for – a prepared, thoughtful, safe practice. But with all of that preparation, it became an effort to stay creative. I wanted to include everything I’d learned in the past 6 months, and I realized my classes started to feel overworked and complicated.
 
So, I went back to my notes and found this tip hidden among highlighter marks and drawings of energy lines: pick a peak pose. For each class, I choose a challenging asana or one that requires a lot of warm-up, and build the rest of the class around it. I spend the first half getting there and the rest counterbalancing and cooling down.
 
If you’re teaching more than one class a week or only a few times a month, plan out your schedule ahead of time. Write down those peak poses, and spread them out across the week or month. And don’t be afraid to repeat! You can mix and match parts from different classes, change up your playlists, and let the the inspiration you bring with your words and tone make something you’ve done before, feel fresh and new. Don’t take on the burden of choreographing a never-before-seen sequence each time.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about effective teaching cues, check out this article.
 
Keep a dated list of what intention or pose you focus on for each class so you can go back and see what you haven’t taught in a while. It’s great for staying organized, and it feels good to see how far you’ve come.
 
 

Method 2. Reevaluate What Else You’re Doing, and Why

For many of us, teaching yoga is not our only job. We may work full-time hours at a desk, spend all day on our feet, chase children around, and/or manage a household. We run errands, do laundry, answer emails, and maybe even own the studio. Being a yoga instructor is only part of who we are.
 
Sit down with a weekly calendar and fill in all of the space with your activities and tasks: work, dropping off the kids, grocery shopping, meeting a friend for lunch, everything.
 
When do you feel your happiest? When do you feel drained? How can you increase those happy moments and decrease the unfulfilling ones?
 
We often use “let it go” as a theme in class, telling students to drop the baggage they’re carrying around and exhale out anything they don’t need. Give yourself permission to do the same. If you’re filling your time with everyone else’s priorities, learning to say “no” is a powerful way to set and maintain boundaries.
 

 

Method 3. Make Time For Your Own Practice

Once you’ve sat down and made that weekly list, take note of where you’re finding time to schedule your own practice. You may be able to hit the mat once or twice a week in the studio (which is awesome, congrats!), but if you’re not finding time to build your own personal practice away from class, you may not be showing up for your students in the best way you can.
 
By giving yourself time to move and create from your own intuition, you’re deepening that sense of truth to speak from when you teach. The saying “those who can’t do, teach” does not apply here. You don’t have to do handstands or arm balances to be able to lead a great practice, but you do need to make time to check in with yourself.
 
Just find a few moments a day to connect with your body and breath or sit in meditation. When you explore inward, you are building your authentic voice. You’ll find something that sticks in you, and you’ll be able to give that to your students.
 
 

Method 4. Find a Mentor

Yoga is a community that we build and strengthen every time we come to the mat. Even if we’re practicing in our own living room, we’re connecting ourselves to the greater universe of ancient yogic wisdom. So it’s no surprise that finding a mentor or supportive group of yogis can help you get out of a rut.
 
Find someone who inspires you in the community. A quick chat over chai lattes can often be enough to push you out of the fog and give you a new perspective. Finding your yoga tribe gives meaning and purpose to what you’re doing.
 
You’re building connections and helping others find their way – you need someone to help you do the same. Community, friendship, and support are the best tools to stave off burnout and remind you why you started this journey.
 
 
At the end of each yoga class, we leave our students with the word “Namaste,” which loosely means “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.” When you say this after each practice, feel the intention fully.
 
Allow it to fill you with gratitude for your ability and the opportunity you have been given to share your light with your community. With these methods, teaching can once again become an honor and a gift, helping you spread your unique energy and intention to the world.
 

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Jenn Bauer

Jenn discovered yoga through a college class 9 years ago and never left her mat. She is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance and shares her passion for wellness with the community in State College, Pennsylvania, where she currently resides.

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