Yoga Burnout

How to deal with it and prevent it.

Kurt Johnsen

Burning up or burning out?
Almost a decade ago, my sister and I started American Power Yoga on credit cards and a prayer, aside from a passion for sharing the tools found within yoga we didn’t really know what we were getting into. I believed that yoga had to be more accessible and that has always been the driving force behind APY. Part of making it accessible was breaking away from multi week sessions which is easier for teachers but it meant if a student missed the start of a session they would have to wait up to 6 weeks until the start of the next; it also meant more class times. So we set out to try to offer classes for every schedule which turned out to be around 35 a week. These days, lot’s of studios offer lots of classes however back then…not so much. Anyway, since I had just put the system together and had only trained my sister and one dear friend I picked up many of the classes. Three a day six days a week to be exact and went at that pace for years.

Now with over 7,500 hours teaching I can understand burning up and burning out. I also think there is an easy fix, wait scratch easy and replace with simple. There is a simple fix. The first thing I tell trainees seeking become yoga teachers is that the hardest thing about being a yoga teacher is not running people through poses. It is showing up every day ready set down your own stuff and ready to help others. The next thing I tell them is that they are not entering the fitness business or even the health business, they are entering the energy business and no matter why people think they are walking into a yoga studio what they really seek is either increasing or balancing their energy. And when your energy is abundant and balanced you are happy. Simply put we are in the happiness business.

Two things, first good news if you are feeling low on energy remember that you are not the source of it. In martial arts and Tai Chi I remember getting a little freaked out when I was told to project my infinitely. I remember thinking “Wait, I’ll run out!” however as I studied I learned that we are conduits of energy; that all energy exists and doesn’t dissipate it simply transfers. Musician Robert Fripp’s explanation of where he gets his amazing riffs is a great analogy. “The music is already out there, I just have to let it flow through me and try to keep out of its way”

So if you are not the source of energy then find ways to let it flow through you. Yoga is a good one! You think that a burned out yoga teacher would think of that one but I have known many who have not. They start teaching so much they can’t take a class and then they wonder why they don’t feel right. Teaching is not taking! It’s just not. Other ways let energy flow through you, good breathing, good food, good water, good view, good people, good tunes, good laughs whatever! As a yoga teacher you should know where to go for energy, it is just doing it.

Secondly, return to your well. I am lucky that one of my most meaningful instructors is still close by and when I start to feel….disconnected I double my efforts to work with him. When things really get tough I also review and remember the countless people who have told what amazing things the practice has done for them and then I recall what it did for me and my sister. Return to your well, why did you get into yoga why did you want to teach, read old emails and testimonials, rewrite your own testimonial. Look for new wells new sources of inspiration and reread the old ones. Like I said, it is all quite simple, most everything in life is, that doesn’t make it easy, but it is simple.

I have been there, in front of a class, a little tired or stressed about something, sweating and thinking my life is just games of “Simon Says”. But then I remember that energy follows thought, my thought and the thought of others and by offering mine ad adjusting theirs I am changing this world one thought or one breath at a time. And that to me in a life well lived.

About Kurt Johnsen www.americanpoweryoga.com

  • Founder of nationally recognized American Power Yoga
  • Host of MTV’s Dallas Cowboy’s Cheerleaders Yoga DVD
  • Host of 40 hours of nationally televised Yoga for Life
  • Host of APY’s Strength, a top selling instructional DVD
  • Master 5th degree Black Belt of Tibetan Kung Fu
  • Official yoga trainer of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
  • Producer and talent in Yoga for Recovery DVD 2008
  • 20 plus years of training in martial arts and yoga
  • Former producer and on air talent for the health talk radio show “The New You Show” on 105.3 FM in Dallas, Texas
  • Trained in Lama Yoga, Tibetan Heart Yoga, Needle in the Cotton (Tibetan Tai Chi), Chi Gong, acupuncture, herbology, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, and Tai Chi Chuan
  • Certified by the Cooper Clinic
  • Nationally recognized by the Yoga Alliance
  • Taught thousands of students and trained and certified dozens of APY instructors.
  • Dallas Ambassador for lululemon athletica
  • An entrepreneur who started his first business at the age of twelve.
  • Has explored Europe, dove with sharks in the Blue Hole and hiked Machu Picchu in Peru.
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9 Comments»

  Sarah wrote @

I just wanted to thank you, Kurt Johnsen, for your wonderful yoga classes on Veria network tv. I watch and do your yoga on average 4 days a week. (working toward 7 days a week) You are the most amazing teacher I have ever taken from. I have progressed to amazing heights with you, and yes, I am using what I have learned in class throughout my day! I thank you so much for teaching me. I would love to meet you someday. I just found out you live in Dallas. I live near Waco! Maybe someday. May God continue to bless you.

  pyxiedust wrote @

Kurt–Your advice about teaching and taking a break was like a smack in the face for me! I’m a high school English teacher and that advice applies to me too! I plan to print out your advice and tuck it into my desk to read on those days I feel like I just can’t do it anymore. Thanks for the simplicity of your words. Oh, and I really enjoy your workouts, especially the modifications. I have fibromyalgia and a bum wrist; you are one of the first instructors (I have seen on TV) who incorporates modifications into your workouts. People forget that there are older folks and younger folks with issues. Thanks!

  Sandra wrote @

Kurt Johnsen, thank you so much for your morning classes on the veria network. I join your class each morning and have become much stronger and focused.

Thank you again.

  Heather wrote @

Hi. I am watching your yoga classes on TV in Turkey. Can anyone tell me where I can buy your dvds please – Amazon are out of stock?

  phyllis wrote @

hi im very upset i watched yoga for life with kurt johnson every single morning b4 work hes great exlains the poses wht their good for now i woke today and some differnt rock yoga show replaced him i hate it please bring kurt back or let me know wht other channel i can find him very upset hes helped me so much being more flexible

  sandra wrote @

absolutely!!!!!! what are you guys thinking, rock yoga????? please bring kurt johnsen’s flow yoga back to veria.

  Brenda wrote @

Loved your show on Veria channel. Worked out everyday and loved it. Unfortunately, Veria made a terrible dicision to air another yoga show. Where can I find your videos? Would love to purchase them. You gave me a love for yoga!!!

  Mila wrote @

A huge Thank you for your wonderful yoga classes from Europe! I practise every day and can really the difference, thank you again, with all the best wishes to you for many more years og great job you are doing.

  Mana Lesman wrote @

Could’nt agree more concerning Veria’s choice not to continue airing Kurt Johnson’s Flow Yoga programs. I have found his instruction vital to my well being for near 8 years. Hardly tune in to Veria any more. Thank heavens for vcr tapes. Kurt has been a healer in my life and others with whom I have shared.


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