Yoga teacher burnout is real.
And I see it a lot.
I get it–you’ve got bills to pay, kids to feed, so you pack your schedule full of as many classes as possible. But eventually, the excitement of teaching starts to fade and you feel like you’re dragging yourself from class to class.
So how much is too much?
There is no magic number: it really depends on you. Some teachers do well teaching 10 classes a week, while others feel best when they teach 3 or 4. It might take you some time and trial and error to find the perfect number of classes for you, but in the meantime, here are some good indications that you are teaching too much:
1. You stop taking classes
Personal practice is so important as a yoga teacher, and one of the first indications you are teaching too much is that you stop practicing. I know–you’re so busy, you don’t have time, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been there, too. But chances are that underneath those excuses, the real reason you aren’t making time for your personal practice is because you just don’t want to. You’re burned out and the idea of one more hour spent thinking about yoga sounds like punishment. It just doesn’t excite you the way it used to. This is a big fat warning sign: you need to scale back your teaching schedule!
2. You feel like teaching is a chore
You decided to become a yoga teacher because your corporate job was wearing you down and you wanted to do something meaningful and rewarding. But all of a sudden you’re no longer feeling inspired when it comes to planning your classes, and your students’ calm, post-savasana faces no longer fill your heart with happiness. Teaching has become a job just like any other and some days you even dread it. This can happen to the best of us. Realizing you are stretched a little thin and making some changes to your schedule can help bring the joy back to your teaching.
3. Meals are a clif bar in the car
There’s a thing called self-care that many yoga teachers forget about when we start teaching. I know–you teach the 5:30 class and then you have to race across town to teach the 7:00 class immediately afterward. Dinner is an afterthought. If this is what the majority of your meals look like, however, I think we have a problem. Make sure you can schedule enough time to eat proper meals and nourish yourself. If you aren’t taking care of you, chances are you don’t have much to give to your students either.
4. You start over-sharing in class
This is usually a sign that you’re a little out of balance emotionally. Maybe you know exactly what’s going on–you are dealing with a family issue or a stressful event in your personal life. If this is the case, it might be a time to cut back on teaching for a while and give yourself some space to deal with these things. But if you have no idea what’s causing you to over-share, chances are you’re just plain exhausted and have been teaching too much. Either way, take a look at how you can create space in your schedule to find some stable emotional ground.
So how do you cut back your teaching schedule without drastically reducing your income?
Let go of your lowest paying classes first. Then try negotiating a higher pay rate for your remaining studio classes. Especially if you’ve been paid the same rate for a while, you may be due for a raise. In any case, it can’t hurt to ask!
Then think about workshops and specialty classes you can offer. Most of the time, studios will take a percentage of what the workshop brings in and you get the rest (60/40 or 70/30 splits in your favor are typical). This creates opportunity to make a significant chunk of change if your workshop is well attended, plus one-time or short-term commitments a few times a month can be much less draining than weekly classes.
Get creative! Just remember: you didn’t become a yoga teacher to feel exhausted all the time. Make some changes and rediscover that spark of inspiration!