[No Mat Matters this week, because I have lots of visitors in town. Instead, I wanted to tackle a yoga-related reader question that I got via email last week--a question that I get all the time and figured it was finally time to answer. Mat Matters will be back next week!]
I've spent a lot of time working with yoga teachers, and if there's one pattern that I've observed time and time again, it goes something like this:
> New teacher graduates from Teacher Training.
> Excited about finally being a teacher, she looks for teaching jobs everywhere she can.
> She starts teaching a class or two. She loves it and is super excited.
> She takes on another couple of classes.
> She agrees to sub a couple of classes over the next month or so.
> Before she knows it, she's teaching about 8 classes per week and working a full-time job (or whatever = *too much* for that particular teacher's life).
> She no longer has time for her own practice, and is constantly thinking about/stressing about teaching.
> She wakes her partner up at night teaching aloud in her sleep (I literally did this when I was teaching too many classes per week, which for me was about 17. WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!?!).
> She starts losing her mind.
> She finally has a breakdown and realizes that something has to give because she's completely burnt out.
> She decides to cut back and gives up a few classes. She finds subs for her subs.
> She has more time. She feels better.
> She starts practicing regularly again and has time for the rest of her life.
> But now that her schedule is more spacious, she thinks that maybe she could take on just this one new class that sounds fun...
> And yes, she's available to sub for you, because she has more time now!
> The pattern repeats itself.
Oh, and let me be clear: This isn't just a new teacher's problem. I'm basically describing myself and many other seasoned teachers that I know. In fact, I could be describing anyone in any line of work where they take on clients or classes or sessions one at a time, and where they LOVE what they do and make their own schedules.
When you love what you do, it's very hard to say no. Another class? Why of course! I love teaching, I love my students, that sounds like a great time slot/class offering, and I would make more $! Why wouldn't I take it on?
Because you'll get burnt out, that's why. Because it's the straw that will break the camel's back.
Often, one more hour per week doesn't sound like much, but when you put it all together in practice, that one more hour might be the thing that puts you over the edge. It might be the one hour that you could have used to go on a walk that would have made you feel refreshed and rejuvenated. It could have been the hour that you did your own practice, or spent time with your kids, or took a nap.
So, here are 5 things that I've learned from repeating the above pattern OVER and OVER again over the past 4 years, and some ways that I've learned to avoid burnout when it comes to teaching yoga: