Yoga Teacher Burnout is serious. In fact I stopped studying with one of my early yoga teachers when he snapped at a student next to me. That was before I learned from experience that Yoga Teacher Burnout can be just a phase if handled right away. If a teacher can learn to recognize the early warning signs, they can nip Yoga Teacher Burnout in the bud by taking action on some key areas of their life and teaching.
People become yoga teachers because they fall in love with the practice. Yoga helps us feel complete, able to share meaningful experiences with others and can save our lives. Teaching yoga, for many, becomes an extension of that love affair.
Despite all that yoga goodness, most yoga teachers will not argue that their teaching can become stale and even boring sometimes.
Yoga teachers often are barely making ends meet, or working so many jobs that they don’t have time for their own practice.
Many are on autopilot, running ragged, and wondering if they need to change professions.
They have lost their love of prepping classes, teaching from their heart, and connecting with their students — these are just a few of the signs that they are going through a “Yoga Teacher Burnout” phase.
Warning signs of Yoga Teacher Burnout:
- Gives little or no hands-on adjustments in class.
- Snaps at students when they don’t understand instructions.
- Presentation has become uncharacteristically stern, austere and unsympathetic.
- Seems to be the unhealthiest and most stressed out one in the room, um…even though they are the yoga teacher.
- They don’t practice yoga any more, they just teach it.
- Overly uses sound bites and cosmic flowery language that seems like they pulled it out of thin air (or their butt).
- Gives an adjustment and throws out their back or gets hurt way too easily (because they don’t practice anymore).
- Mis-directs anger and frustration onto innocent bystanders like their kids and/or significant other.
- “Forgets” to get a sub for their classes or subs all of their classes out.
- Grouchy. Snappy. Cranky. Irritable. Crabby. Cantankerous. Prickly. Huffy.
I've been there, and I've seen it in my colleagues. No yoga teacher is perfect.
To be clear, I'm not talking about those difficult days when we must teach through tough times (loss, divorce, illness, etc...) - everyone must go through that at one time or another. I'm talking about holding up our end of the bargain to model a balanced lifestyle, and use the tools we have at our disposal to get the TLC we need.
The good news is that these warning signs in no way suggest that a teacher is doomed. Being burned out can be wake up call and an opportunity.
These action steps can quickly make Yoga Teacher Burnout disappear:
- Going to local classes taught by other teachers Looking at the calendar and finding at least 2 classes a week to attend, taught by peers or a favorite teacher, can be just the ticket to feeling nurtured and inspired again.
- Social Gatherings Teachers who hang out with their students every now and then are naturally more connected to their student's lives and will not surprisingly get more stoked to teach.
- Scheduling in down time as though it is a paying gig Teachers should not wait to see if they have any extra time to do a home practice, get a massage or hike in nature. Scheduling in down time as if it were a gig is the only way to make it happen.
- Optimizing teaching schedule If a teacher has given a class a good 6 months to fill and nothing seems to help, it may be time to find a better time slot. Consider other factors that can cause burn out such as commute, parking, inconvenience to family, etc…
- Revisiting basic texts and being studious again Improving an understanding of yoga philosophy, anatomy or hatha yoga keeps a teacher fresh. Spending 10 minutes day reading up on the subjects that need strengthening is an instant shot in the arm for weary teachers.
With a little focused care, any teacher can re-kindle the enthusiasm of sharing yoga with others and be the best they can be for their students.
Have you noticed any of these warning signs of Yoga Teacher Burnout in your yoga teacher? Got any additional remedies to add that have worked for you? Or do you teach yoga and relate? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear.