Yoga Burnout

How to deal with it and prevent it.

Dana Layon

As a yoga instructor who at one point, taught 20 classes per week, owned and operated a thriving studio and managed employees, I understand yoga burnout all too well.  We rationalize that we are just teaching yoga; it’s not like we’re digging ditches or something!  The average person may think, “Yoga instructor burn out?  How can you get burned out breathing calmly for an hour or more, moving your body and connecting with people?  That actually sounds like fun!  What a great way to make a living!”  But if you’re an instructor who cares about your students and you give to them, you know how burnout can happen to even the best of us and it can happen quickly.

As yoga instructors we are not in class for ourselves, not even for a moment.  We are there for our students.  We give of ourselves before class, during class and after class. Before class we are connecting with them, especially the new students who used all their courage just to get to class!   When they are resting in Svasana, we are making sure they are comfortable.  After class we are answering questions and creating community.

The relationship we create with our students is an intimate one.  We never know why they are attending our class but most likely they are there because they trust us.  Already we are put on a pedestal – we are thought to know it all, understand it all and have all the answers.

This is a lot of responsibility to carry.

Most yoga instructors I know teach part time; to supplement their income or they are a parent who stays home part time.  With this schedule, there isn’t a whole lot of time to cultivate a personal practice.  It usually takes burning out to learn how to incorporate practicing what we preach a priority for our own learning and self growth.

After 3 years of teaching and giving more to others than I was giving to myself, my weekly schedule is now designed for balance.  It consists of teaching only three classes and a couple of private sessions a week, holding once monthly workshops and quarterly retreats.

So now that I have shed some light on this subject, these are the things I have learned to do in order to eliminate instructor burn out and enjoy teaching the joy of yoga all the time:

  1. Know your limits when it comes to teaching.

Make sure you are only teaching as many classes as you can enjoy during your week.   Remember this is a job where we give of ourselves from the moment we walk in to the moment we leave.  Make sure you know where to draw the line with your time professionally and compassionately.

  1. Remain a student at all times.

This may mean taking classes from other instructors, watching instructional DVD’s or reading books.  Whatever your schedule will allow – keep learning.  Yoga is a science we spend our whole lives learning and we never learn it all so take your time!

  1. Try other styles of yoga other than the one you are accustomed.

There are many styles of yoga out there, one not better than another.  Remember an important philosophy of yoga is to release judgment.  So start with your practice and try something new.  Who knows, you may learn something!

  1. Create theme based sessions and/or classes and create curriculums.

Having a theme for your classes will help your students stay committed and keep you interested as well!  Yoga has so many aspects to it – the ideas are really endless.  Choose from the Sutras, Doshas, Chakras, 5 Elements, Mudras, Mantras….all these can be weaved into classes nicely allowing for so much creativity when it comes to planning a class.

  1. Take time off.

Create a schedule that you can adjust if you need to easily.  Create sessions so you can take a week off every 12-16 weeks.  Get someone to sub your class as soon as you feel the rumblings of burnout!

Remember to enjoy yourself.  Teach what interests you and find your passion with yoga.  I always go back to my passions and ask myself: Why do I do this?  How important is this to me? Remember why you started taking yoga classes. What did you get from yoga?  Share that with your new students.  Connect with them!  Go back to the beginning and really dive into your own practice.  When you give to yourself, you will be more ready to give to your students.

Om Shanti

Dana Layon, E-RYT began practicing Iyengar Yoga in 1997 and then Prenatal Yoga during her first pregnancy in 2002. In 2003, she was introduced to Vinyasa “Flow” Yoga, a westernized style of yoga guiding movement with breath. After running a successful prenatal yoga program at Southwest WA Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, Dana brought Satsang Yoga and Wellness Center to her community.  This wonderful yoga studio incorporated all aspects of health and well being: yoga, meditation, massage, alternative energy healing modalities and nutrition.  After three years, she closed the studio to pursue a more global audience.

Currently, her main programs include her Zen Flow Yoga School – nationally accredited with the Yoga Alliance.  The school offers a 6 month and year long program that educates aspiring teachers how to help others realize all the benefits of yoga. The course includes teaching methodology and technique, postural alignment, yogic philosophy, anatomy and the business of teaching yoga.

Dana holds monthly educational workshops as well – all accredited by the Yoga Alliance.  Yoga Sculpt, Adapting Your Flow Class, Kids Yoga/Virtues, Embracing Menopause with Yoga and Awakening Wisdom through the Chakras are just a few of her workshops held yearly in Vancouver, WA.  She is also available to travel outside Vancouver to facilitate these workshops.

Quarterly, Dana hosts her Spiritual Warrior Yoga Retreats – geared toward women empowerment and unity.  She hosts local retreats but is also working alongside to help less fortunate children in the Dominican Republic realize the beauty of yoga.

She offers classes twice weekly at the Vancouver Yoga Center and once weekly at her daughters’ Montessori School – offering yoga and life virtues to children ages 3-10.

As a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), Women Entrepreneurs Organization (WEO), co-founder of Natural Approach to Parenting (NAP), Board Member of Your Baby Your Way with Southwest WA Medical Center, and Committee Member of, Dana strives to educate her community and beyond about the benefits of yoga.  She believes that everyone deserves to live their best life and understands how to make the choices to get there. She is passionate about the benefits of stillness and how clear life becomes once we listen to our inner voice.

Dana also leads workshops on Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential – realizing that yoga and stillness go hand in hand with pure joy and happiness.  Passion lives in the heart – the heart can’t be heard without stillness.  With stillness there is clarity – with clarity, power.  Her book, Weekly Oms for Spiritual Intention will be out by 2010.

She has 2 daughters under the age of 6 and they provide her with the inspiration to be a better person. Her intention is to train others to teach yoga; assist others in living their best life and utilizing yoga and other natural healing modalities for optimal health and wellness.

Dana Layon ERYT can be reached at
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1 Comment»

  kelly wrote @

dana- you really helped me to gain some perspective. i’m going to check out your other blogs right now. thanks! k.

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