Yoga Burnout

How to deal with it and prevent it.

Kim Luyckx

Preventing Instructor Burn Out

As the sole instructor/owner of a yoga studio in a small community, I can absolutely relate to this concept.  I view burn out not only as the result of over doing an activity but under doing it as well.  In other words, too much stress can lead to exhaustion but not enough excitement can disintegrate into weariness.

When I began teaching, I was fortunate to have access to a larger city where there were several opportunities to attend weekend workshops.  From the beginning, this was a quarterly goal I set for my development as I had no local instructor to guide me.  At that time, burn out was not even a consideration. Everything was bright and exciting and I was honing my skills.  Over the next several years, I maintained this routine of attending weekend seminars. Looking back, I believe that it kept the spark in my teaching and trained me to keep looking outside the box so that I could remain open to new perspectives.

After relocating to another town, the proximity to larger yoga centers and weekend availabilities diminished. I glimpsed my first signs of burnout as my options for outside education decreased to twice yearly.  This past year, I attended just one yoga seminar.

A teacher needs to be fed in order to give back to her students.  Attending outside classes and teacher trainings is just one pathway for stimulating the practice and instruction of yoga.  The methods I have come to rely on require self discipline and time but the rewards are bountiful.

Become “material”: Luckily, I love to collect books and do research.  I scour the web and bookstores for any text or DVD that might inspire me to dive deeper. My quest for information always grants me shiny approaches for worn out postures. These periods of learning can occupy hours or even weeks; serving as a yogic sabbatical.

In fact, I am on one right now…

Teach to a theme: This is an incredible tool for breathing life into your teaching.  It is also a wonderful way to learn more about the similarities between asanas and the overall benefits of a yoga practice. Often times, following a themed class, my students will remark that they “really got it.”  As they rise out of Savasana, I can see the light bulbs flickering above their heads.

Host a workshop: Exploring a particular theme in class can eventually lead to a workshop or intensive course.  This definitely generates sparks for me and my students. These programs also provide a field for trying out ideas for regular classes.  Single introductions to partner yoga, vinyasa, kid’s yoga and evening sessions have turned into permanent offerings at the studio.

Write it down to rev it up: This technique arose from my younger days of teaching. Back then, my lack of experience dictated that I make a cheat sheet for the poses and sequences I wanted to convey. Nowadays, I jot down my class plans so that I may have an opportunity to focus on how I teach rather then what I teach.  Using objective observation, I evaluate not only the words that I use, but the speed and tone of my voice. I try to always remember: instructor fatigue directly filters down to the student. I look to their reactions for guidance. Once enlightened, I strive to liven up the presentation to prevent stagnation.

Get a new map: Many times, I find myself driving down the same road to get to my destination.  Whether you teach Iyengar, Ashtanga, or any other particular style of yoga, it may be beneficial for you to experience an alternative avenue.  Every so often, I try a class or read a book that suggests a passageway to yoga that, for me, is in uncharted territory. Go west young man and expand the horizon of your awareness…

Let the music play: Incorporate another dimension into your teaching through sound. Slide into this mode gently and be sensitive to your participants as you explore. I began introducing music into my classes by using soothing sounds to transition students into Savasana.  In addition, I have fused upbeat tunes with yoga for our Sun Salutation classes. For some, rhythm enhances their yogic experience, for others, it interferes with it. Experimenting with music in your own personal practice will move you in the right direction.

Collaborate with other healing professionals: There are many other specialties that complement the practice of yoga: massage therapy, ayurveda, herbal medicine and acupuncture are just a few examples. Through discussions and by co-hosting workshops with these various practitioners, I have uncovered stimulating perspectives on yoga.

Take a break: Stop teaching! It is my experience that temporarily “getting away from it all” by completely changing the routine brings back the freshness. It actually reminds me why I teach and how very beneficial it is to me. I incorporate breaks into my yearly schedule for revitalizing and reevaluating.  Maybe you have been drained dry by a pace that is just too intensive. Try cutting back a class or two per week.  Better yet, adjust your calendar to give yourself an entire day for preparation and a chance to switch gears.

Lastly, rejuvenate your home practice: If you can apply all of the above to your personal practice, you can bring excitement back to your mat. I view my practice as a training ground for change. One of my favorite teachers once told me, “you teach for yourself and you practice for your students.”

Many blessings on your path to renewal!

Kim Luyckx has been studying yoga since 1993.  Her past experiences as a performer and instructor of dance and creative movement have led her to this gentle yet effective system.  With a strong background in Iyengar Yoga, she has built an eclectic style of teaching by training with a myriad of teachers over the years.  She is a certified Hatha yoga instructor and has been registered with Yoga Alliance since 2002.

For more information, please contact:

Yoga by Design  45 Paraiso Corte,  Sedona, Arizona 86351



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