Yoga Burnout

How to deal with it and prevent it.

Veronica Larsson

Yoga instructor burn-out – what helps? what prevents it?

I do not have the answers to the above questions, i dont believe here that there is general practical advise, a quick-fix, that will answer this question, but that the matter is one of each of us continuing to grow and honestly look within ourselves and listen to the truth in our hearts.

I found myself drawn to this topic when i saw it, because i have been journeying through something similar, and I am responding in the light of my own experience as a full time yoga teacher for 10 years. I teach general classes, healing one-to-ones, i hold week long meditation and yoga retreats, and I’m training teachers for the third year. When looking at this topic a few things that i explored and delved into for myself, came to mind. Why did i start yoga in the first place? Why did i become a yoga teacher? What is burn-out? What does it mean to be a yoga teacher?

Why did i start yoga in the first place?

I started practicing yoga in my mid-twenties because i had back pain from scoliosis, and was getting migraines, and when i came across this yoga place i just got it that this was what i needed to do. I went to classes once or twice a week, and my condition improved. I met my first teacher trainer, and was absolutely swept off my feet by the practice. The joy, the excitement, the sense of freedom to move, the sense of internal strength and centered-ness (what i thought then was centered-ness..) Do you recognize this? The place and time when you were practicing entirely because it made you FEEL GOOD, and it brought you peace and joy!? When you had a life as a person, who enjoyed and benefitted enormously from practicing yoga? When you were not identified with the concept of what a person that does yoga is?

Why did i become a yoga teacher?

I embarked on my first two-year teacher training, simply because i loved practicing, i loved the teacher, and i just couldn’t get enough! As i finished my training, yoga was getting popular in dublin, and i started teaching a beginners class. Within months i was teaching several classes a week, both in studios as well as my own organized ones. I loved it, i kept learning, and my own continued training was a priority. Thinking back on those times i pray that ‘you are always in the right time, at the place, doing the right thing’ is true! In reality, i was enthusiastic and passionate about my practice, and about teaching, it was very exciting and very joyful. A few years were like that. Only somewhere along the way it felt like it was starting to wear me down, and i started enjoying it less. It felt like work, and the title, image ‘yoga teacher’ felt more like a burden, like a kind of mask i had to hold up, because i knew inside that i wasn’t happy. The yoga training that i had gone through so far had certainly set me on the path of yoga. It only became apparent to me a few years later, that through my ‘yoga practice’, and continued training with advanced world recognized teachers, and striving for yoga perfection in postures and way of being, i had not actually addressed in depth the emotional and psychological issues that were hiding inside. Instead, my practice and my new found role in society, had become part of what my ego’s image needed to stay safe! I know my essence was still present in the teaching, but personally, i was super unhappy, we all know the pain of the illusion of separation right? Where it feels like you are pretending to be someone you’re not, when your laughing on the outside and not inside, because inside your mind is frantically busy with analyzing, you’re covering up your pain, putting on a brave face, etc.

What is burn-out?

This is where this topic gets really interesting! As far as i can make out, burn-out happens when your daily actions are not aligned with your souls purpose. It happens because we are not fueled and sustained from within by the light of our life’s path, but keep going a certain way out of fear. It happens when we forget to honor our soul in each moment, when we forget to be real, to be authentic, not according to moral standards as set out by some text, but to be completely ourself, as we are at that moment. It can be as simple as holding on to an old belief, or covering up emotions of fear, guilt, shame, self-hatred, unworthiness, anger, etc (if you are sure you have never suppressed any of these emotions and that you are emotionally clear, you are probably deceiving yourself, sorry to burst your bubble. You are human! It is allowed to feel! ) As a yoga teacher, i found it oh so flattering initially to carry the mantle of ‘I’m so happy and serene’, what i do is amazing and you should do it to, and you’ll be as happy, strong, fit, etc, as me. This was all ego play, I took on the role of being in a certain way, and then began to impose it on myself, and just became an image of what i wanted people to believe was the truth. Man, was that bloody exhausting to keep up-!! I was very lucky to have a not so normal family, and that life circumstances literally brought me to my knees, i had to REALLY have an honest look at what was going on, and i was lucky a friend phoned me up and suggested i go to a Journey Intensive, of the work of Brandon Bays. My real transformation began there. Essentially based on, and practically employing the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, it brought me directly into the light of my own soul, and from that place there is no other way than what is congruent with your soul, it causes to much pain! Since working through and dwelling in the emotional body for a few years, as a result I’m now doing LightBody Work and exploring and developing channelled healing work, and I’m also developing a Yoga and Lightwork Healing Training Course, which is were my passion and joy is. Oh, and that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty more to be brought up for healing, on, yes, a weekly basis.

Only thing to do is to stay present in your centre, this is where the party is!!

What does it mean to be a yoga teacher?

I will answer this question with questions that if you ask yourself, may be useful in discerning how it serves you, or not, to be a ‘yoga instructor’.

If you were financially independent, would you be working the way, the hours, the schedule that you are currently? Does working the way you are, with what you do, bring you JOY? If so, are there parts that are less joyful, that you would change if you could. that you are allowing to waste your energy? If you could choose to be and do absolutely anything, what would you do, or be? How do you FEEL in yourself, and how would you LIKE to feel and be with yourself when you are alone? Do you feel that you are dependent on the definition of being a yoga instructor as part of who you are? Do you feel free to just be yourself, (not some fake mask of concepts, righteousness, pretend peacefulness and fulfillment, or drama) at all times when you work? Do you feel that your work, your teaching, is truly coming from that place where heartbreaking love and truth has blown your heart wide open and you’re not denying your light to shine for anyone?

Some teachers become great teachers, because that is what they are in their hearts, they are on their souls path. There are a lot of FAMOUS teachers that are that because it feeds their ego’s. Everybody is in exactly the right time, the right place, doing the right thing, in order for their soul to grow. If you are suffering Yoga-instructor burn-out, (contradiction in terms if there ever was one, and also a reflection of how ‘yoga’ teaching had become reduced in public understanding to something that we can instruct others in, with a years training under our belt.) be grateful and open to the possibility that your soul is bringing something up for healing, the path you are on, the work you have chosen, the practice you have chosen, is bringing something that is no longer serving you, that is so hard to carry that you actually burn out, UP FOR HEALING-!! THIS IS YOUR CALL TO BE TRULY COMPASSIONATE, AND REAL, WITH YOUR SELF, TO STOP, TO LISTEN, TO LOOK HONESTLY, TO FEEL, TO ASK, TO SURRENDER, TO ALLOW CLEARING, TO DROP THE IDEAS OF WHO YOU ARE, TO BE COURAGEOUS, TO LET YOUR TRUE LIGHT SHINE OUT OF YOUR EYES AND HEART, TO ALLOW THE REAL YOU TO BE SEEN. THERE IS AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF LIGHT, LOVE AND ENERGY IN THIS PLACE. ONCE YOU CONNECT TO THIS PLACE YOU CANNOT BURN OUt, BECAUSE THE INFINITE LIGHT OF YOUR OWN SOUL IS LIVING YOU. IT IS EFFORTLESS. THIS IS YOGA. IT IS A REAL LIFE FEELING EXPERIENCE OF YOUR TRUE NATURE, NOT AN IDEA, CONCEPT, OR APPLIED PHILOSOPHY. I pray that we may have complete support and assistance on all levels in our hearts desire for healing, connection, oneness and return to love. And so it is.

Yours in Yoga, in Love, in Light,

Many Thanks for Reading!

Veronica Larsson (BA(hons), MA) I am compassionate and intuitive teacher,  practicing and teaches full time in Dublin for 10 years, and am doing general classes, one to one sessions, workshops, retreats, yoga teacher training, as well as energy balancing and channelled healing. I am registered with the Yoga Alliance, 500 hr E-RYT, having over 1700 hrs of training in various traditions including Iyengar and Astanga yoga, Vipassana and Sumarah Meditation. I have done Landmark Education Courses and i undertook the Practitioners Program of the Journey, the work of Brandon Bays, to be a an Accredited Journey Work Practitioner. Most recently i am attending LightBody classes with the School of the Living Light in England, which teaches the teachings of channelled beings Orin and Daben. The now inescapable path is of personal and spiritual growth and awakening. Coupled with my experience in the fields of health, healing and soul growth contributes to ensure each individual works to their own ability and level, and that healing can take place on many levels, both on and off the yoga mat! Truth, love and freedom is the prayer.

I am currently developing a training for teachers that acknowledges the presence, and works with a direct experience, of our soul light, and our heart truth. This training focusses on practicing and teaching yoga AND doing real healing work, as part of developing each individuals curiosity and passion for life. This is yoga training for the new consciousness, I’m very excited about it, it is literally being channelled day by day, and a lot of the course will be channelled and run by tuning into to soul needs for healing and awakening. All enquiries are welcome, as well as an invitation to run this course in the States-!!

My website address is currently livingyoga.ie, and since i am about to change it, i would like to submit my email address here also, in case the name of the website, changes; veronicayoga@gmail.com

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1 Comment»

  Robert May wrote @

Hi Veronica, im wondering if you could help, my name is robbie ive been trying to praticie yoga over the last 12 years, ive very little schooling, but managed to get a dipploma in y.t.t.c and studiedin india with Yogacharya v. Venkatesha. Im doing a bit of teaching at the moment, but like to get something to make sense of my journey, and my teachings of yoga. Kind regards. Robbie May.


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