When I first began teaching in LA many moons ago, I was teaching 16 classes a week. That is the only way to make a living teaching yoga when you start out full time. I also wanted to jam pack my experience to get better fast. However, one can’t keep up this schedule forever. Even if you don’t demonstrate (which I highly encourage people to do only when absolutely necessary), teaching can be exhausting. You are constantly moving, talking, thinking and adjusting. After a while the practice you once loved so much becomes routine and a means to an end. To avoid getting to that point, I’ve compiled a list of things that will not only create more balance in your life but will also help you keep the drive alive.
1. Try to teach a different class each time. It’s really easy to get caught up in your “go-to” sequences. If you find yourself constantly teaching the same flows or starting class in the same position, ditch it altogether and try something completely different. Experiment, be bold and find your creativity. It helps to practice at home for this. When we take the time to play with our personal practice, it gets easier to tap into the spontaneity of the moment while you’re teaching in your yoga studio.
2. Make sure you take at least one day off (two is preferable). We, as teachers, are like on-call therapists sometimes. Clients need yoga pronto and studio classes run seven days a week. It’s really easy to always say yes when a client needs you or when the studio calls you to sub. However, if you don’t set aside some days where you absolutely will not work, you are sure to burn out fast.
3. Practice, practice, practice. I see it too often: as soon as a student of mine becomes a teacher, he stops coming to class. I’ve been there. You start teaching so much that your practice goes out the window and suddenly you’re trying to squeeze your practice in while you teach your group class. This goes back to steps 1 and 2 – take some time off to nurture your own practice and get some new teaching ideas by going to someone else’s classes.
4. Teach or take a workshop/retreat. Mix up your schedule by giving yourself something to look forward to. Workshops give you the opportunity to explore the other aspects of yoga and share your newfound knowledge with others. Doing something other than your regular yoga classes breaks up the grind and can also help you discover new teaching techniques!
5. Drop the classes you dread. When you first start teaching, you’ll take any class that’s offered to you – even if you have to drive 30 minutes to get there. It’s all about practice and exposure, so why not? But when you start noticing that you are dreading teaching a certain class or that your time commitment is not worth it, let it go and I assure you that you will not miss it. Something better always comes along.