Once you’ve been teaching for a while, you may have times in your career when you feel burned out. This is a very real syndrome and one that can lead you to question if you’re on the right track. However, if you’re alert to the signs of burnout, you can stomp out the flames when they show up. Here are a few signs:
- You wait until the last possible minute to leave home to make it to class.
- You dread teaching the same sequence over and over again.
- You wish you could attend a teacher training to be infused with new wisdom, but lack the funds to attend.
- You refrain from conversation with students.
- You haven’t had a day off teaching in months.
Burnout in teachers is particularly problematic because in order to do your job, you need to be seen; meaning, you can’t hide behind a desk or computer. You need to be open; meaning, you have to speak. You need to be aware and present; meaning, you can’t just pass the time daydreaming, wishing for your day to end.
So, what can you do if you answered “yes” to a number of the above statements? Or if you’ve noticed other things about your attitude towards teaching that concerns you? Here are some suggestions:
1. Meet with a mentor and discuss how you feel.
Teaching yoga can be isolating. We’re all on the run so much and while we pass each other before or after class, sometimes it’s hard to find time to have a meaningful chat. Set up a time to meet with someone you like and admire, and be honest about how you feel.
See what comes up as you discuss it, and then be quiet and listen for whatever feedback you might receive.
2. Invest in some quality yoga DVDs or online classes to view other sequences and teaching techniques.
Nowadays, there are many ways to stay in touch with your favorite teacher, even if he or she is traveling around the world, and you can afford to attend a training in person.
I recently watched one of Tiffany Cruikshank’s videos and it inspired me to theme classes in a particular way. It was an energizing feeling to have a new focus to bring to my classes. Also, some of the studios here in Boston have amazing events that are just 1 day long or ½ day. Check out your local listings and see if there’s a quality local workshop you can swing.
3. Look for ways to build some quality time into your schedule.
Even if you teach every day, use at least one day per week, for several hours in a row, to do something just for yourself. This summer, I bought a parking pass to my favorite beach and just for a few hours in the morning, once a week, I drive up to the beach. I always feel rejuvenated when I get home.
4. Force yourself to ask students how they’re doing before or after class.
Sometimes, just making the effort will result in a shift in how you feel. You might need to push yourself to say something, but once you do it a few times and get some feedback, chances are your feelings will start to shift in the right direction. Remember, your goal here is just to reach out, show yourself and then let the person speak.
5. Be honest with yourself and take time to explore the root cause of your burnout.
As a full time yoga teacher, it can be a very challenging path from a scheduling, financial and emotional standpoint. You’re running around, always giving and supporting, constantly trying to stay open to learning, trying to find ways to practice yourself, and dealing with whatever the financial implications are of the career path you’ve chosen.
Those are just a few of the factors that might be creating stress. Every once in a while, when you start to feel burned out, take time to assess your teaching. Stay open to other ways of expressing your passion. If you find that you’re constantly feeling exhausted, maybe it’s time to think of a new way to integrate teaching yoga into your life.
Teaching part time or moving to a full-time job while teaching an evening class or two might be a temporary shift, and one that’s needed to help you create overall balance in your life.