Yoga Teacher Burnout is real, and although today’s post may seem a little off-topic, it isn’t. After all, I run a mentorship program for Yoga Teachers. Questions often come up about the realities of the profession of yoga teaching.
Davis Burroughs, author of “Why I Quit – Confessions of an Authentically Fake Yoga Teacher”, struck a cord with his recent blog post, receiving more than 10K hits (a lot for his blog) in just a few days.
He was a student / recent “graduate” of my YogaAnatomyAcademy.com Anatomy Mentorship, and someone I always considered “authentic”. I was curious to know more about his decision to “quit yoga”, to compare our different experiences as yoga teachers, to support him as a friend and “mentor” and to see what was next for him.
This video chat is the product of my Curious Cathy-ness (and an excuse to give yoga teachers a super-generous freebie — see below).
But first, a little background for those of you who are not yoga teachers, are brand new yoga teachers, or who have never considered what we speak about below:
“Yoga Teacher Burnout” comes at the center of the confluence that is:
- Running a business and / or being an Independent Contractor (a minefield in and of itself!)
- The likelihood of conflict between business aspirations and the Spiritual side of yoga (or the perceived values of yoga)
- Reality of the Shadow side of Spirituality (“spiritual” people aren’t necessarily “better” people)
- The genuine love of yoga (or movement / meditation) that yoga teachers either have or once had
- Weirdness that arises from pressures around social media, and a sense of competition with other yoga teachers (sometimes encouraged by studios or teacher trainings)
- Reality of us yoga teachers needing to pay for the roof over our heads, the internet access, the cell phone bill, etc.
- Maybe also this: The way that the sands of yogaland are shifting. Yoga doesn’t look like it did 1, 5, or 10 years ago. It’s a changing landscape.
In Davis’s case, he was doing his best to ethically navigate a non-compete contract even as his yoga teaching style evolved and began to conflict with that studio’s philosophy and demands. When I asked him about why he didn’t simply seek out teaching gigs at different yoga studios (as non-competes are unlikely to hold much legal power in the US), he made this very salient point:
“[regarding hiring] For a lot of studio owners, they are more interested in who you are, and less interested in your resume.” – Davis Burroughs
We are in an industry that depends on personality. Yet many of us feel pressured to be less than authentic. It’s weird and wacky…but it doesn’t have to be gross!
Davis and I came up with a few points on “How to Avoid Yoga Teacher BurnOut”
A brief list of practices that I hope yoga teachers take away from this chat:
– Diversity your yoga teaching (locations, populations, etc) – say YES to every opportunity in the beginning of your yoga career. This will give you an understanding of the yoga landscape in your area, and perhaps some wiggle room if any one of your yoga teaching gigs doesn’t work out. Subtopic — be very careful signing non-compete contracts.
– Get specific – Specific – meaning know your teaching strengths and personal strengths. My teaching strength is not fast-paced vinyasa, and if I try and teach power vinyasa classes, I believe it will come across as fraudulent and won’t help me in the long term. On the other hand, few people can do what I do around yoga anatomy. That is my magic place, and where I offer the most good for the greatest benefit.
– Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to share who you really are. You don’t have have photos of you draped in a shawl sitting in meditation on the edge of a river next to an expensive green juice. Share what lights you up (or in the case of Davis, what he lights up hahahaha). My Instagram pages for Ariele Foster (me) and for YogaAnatomyAcademy have felt authentic, fun, and creative.
– Don’t use social media platforms that you don’t enjoy. Period. Yoga teaching can be work. But social media marketing shouldn’t be pure drudgery. If it is, it’s not the best way for you to market yourself. It’s that simple. I never log into Twitter. Davis loves writing and blogging.
– Get some mentorship or friend dates with fellow teachers who can help you process and navigate some of this tricky world. If your yoga community feels too small, search Facebook groups to see if anyone might be going through similar issues and reach out distantly (Davis and I chatted on Zoom, but Skype is a classic)
– Know yourself. Knowing your tendencies is true yoga, true self-inquiry (svadyaya). It allows you to develop a better relationship with the businesses who are employing you. Take this quiz by Gretchin Rubin “The 4 Tendencies”, to start (it’s only a start. Feel free to comment below with any of your suggestions). Although I identify with ALL of the tendencies, it makes sense that my primary tendency is Questioner. If I communicate to a studio manger “I am a Questioner, so please bear with me”, I’ll be less likely to offend them and more free to be myself.
– Not mentioned in the video — Stay Inspired. The best way to stay inspired is to keep studying yoga. Although you might — as Davis did — start to change your teaching after learning more. Align your teaching with studios, gyms, etc that allow your teaching to evolve.
Without further ado, here’s our chat:
If you are considering becoming a yoga teacher OR if you are a yoga teacher and feeling “yoga teacher burnout” or simply new or stuck in your career, I actually have a MASSIVE Freebie for readers of this blog. It’s a online course called “Pay for Your Yoga Teacher Training and Jump-Start Your Career“. It’s my download of 16 years of teaching yoga! Click here for access, and thank you SO much for watching.
FREE ^ don’t wait!