Yoga Burnout

How to deal with it and prevent it.

Bram Levinson

Teaching Yoga is proving to be so much more than I could have ever expected, and in way more ways than I knew existed. The obvious by-products of instructing my students through a class manifest themselves multifold: the satisfaction of knowing that my words and direction bring something new to the lives of my pupils stays with me all day, as do the expressions of thanks and gratitude when the students come up to me after class to let me know how much they enjoyed their experience. I’ve also begun to look forward to the process of preparing a class, from the sequence of asanas to the accompanying playlist that serves as the soundtrack to the class, assisting me in creating an arc of emotion from start to finish. When I’ve gotten everything ready to teach, but am still looking ahead to the class itself, a free-floating exhilaration fills my spirit in the anticipation of presenting the fruit of my labors to the students who look forward to seeing what’s in store for them. As well, guiding a student from a beginner’s practice through to a more challenging, intermediate level also allows me to humbly ackknowledge that I am passing on my lessons and experiences in a responsible manner, one that ensures that the teachings of Yoga continue to spread joy through the world in the manner that has kept it going for the past 5000 years.

Another facet of teaching Yoga has somewhat surprised me, and has only reinforced what I already believed – Yoga is all-encompassing. From a student’s perspective, the practice serves as a physical, mental, and emotional stimulant, awakening muscles, memories and emotions that had previously been present, but dormant. From a teacher’s perspective, the same is true. Leading a class requires that perfect balance of physical, emotional and mental health, and when one is teaching many classes throughout any given day or week, the result is exhaustion. The ease with which an instructor can end up burning out from constantly giving so much of him or herself is surprising, but I’ve found a couple of ways to keep it at bay.

1) Make sure that 1-2 days a week are Yoga-free
I usually teach classes 3-5 days a week and practice 4-5 days a week, but I always keep a couple of days to cultivate the other aspects of my life. Although some yogis have expressed astonishment at my approach to maintaining balance in my life and my career, I stand by it faithfully. I have shown myself that by mindfully stepping off the mat occasionally, I return refreshed and invigorated, eager to continue on my paths as student and teacher respectively.

2) Get lots of sleep
Many yogis are up at the crack of dawn, ready to salute the rising sun as the peace and tranquility of the early morning energy infuses their daily practice. Most of said yogis also get to sleep early every night, but for those who do not, it would be advisable to try getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep. The life of a yogi is an active one, demanding absolute determination and focus, and with the proper amount of rest, the body will be able be the vessel it needs to be to get everything accomplished successfully.

3) Get involved with other teachers or yogis
Having someone to chat with who knows what your existence as a teacher is like is massively beneficial. Just sharing your experiences can help diffuse any tension your body is attributing to them, and getting someone else’s perspective and point of view usually allows for a fresh and objective outlook.

4) Keep yourself hydrated
Always keep water nearby. By replenishing the fluids we lose throughout our practice and the classes we teach, we are ensuring that our body is being given what it needs to keep the prana moving fluidly and energetically while avoiding the head and muscle aches that dehydration can result in.

5) Laugh…as often as possible
A common misconception about people following a yogic lifestyle is that they’re completely zenned out, floating from one dreamy experience to the next. While it is true that yogis are more adept and skilled at handling stress, it still exists and it still takes its toll. Allow yourself to laugh as often as possible. Laughter is one of the best remedies for stress and fatigue, allowing muscle tension to wash away as the vibrations of the laughter ripple through the body…and it’s also a comforting reminder that nothing really matters.

BIO ON BRAM LEVINSON

Co-Manager and Yoga Teacher at Centre Luna Yoga (www.centrelunayoga.com) in Montreal, Quebec, Bram Levinson has been an enthusiastic yogi since 1999, and after a massive life/career change in 2008, began his Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training with Darby, Shankara & Joanne. With additional training from Luna Yoga’s Jennifer Maagendans, Bram incorporated all his experience on and off the mat into his yoga classes which offer insight into alignment, breath awareness, and the ability to use laughter to get through the more challenging postures and sequences. Bram is forever grateful to the Darbys, Jennifer Maagendans, and Joan Ruvinsky who initially offered illumination on his yogic path. His insights and obervations can be followed on his blog at http://bramlevinson.wordpress.com/.

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