Today I want to talk to all the yogis in the room. If you know any yoga lovers or yoga teachers, then you might decide to share with them this post and the pearls of wisdom I am about to offer.
I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years and teaching for 13. I have been a yoga student, a yoga teacher, a yoga trainer and a yoga studio owner. Yes I am that yoga girl!
I trained in many areas of yoga and have practiced with teachers from around the globe because there have been times in my life where I literally lived and breathed yoga every single day. That’s what yoga teachers do right? There really is a point where it is too much.
I have asked myself numerous times if I would have still taken this journey, had I known the challenges and heartache that I would go through. I know the answer would be yes every time because this journey has changed me. I am who I am because of the challenges and the lessons I have learned but I wish I had known then what I know now. I believe I was meant to teach and serve others, plus my yoga practice now means the world to me. However, I do think that yoga teacher trainings should also cover how to keep your sanity and be a teacher.
So there I was all in love with yoga and teaching until I wasn’t. Me and yoga had a ginormous fall out… I am talking about us not speaking for over a year! Yoga is supposed to help us find balance and our true innate happiness ie our inner self but I was so far out of balance and there was little happiness going on.
Could it have been avoided? Perhaps… but likely if anyone had told me what struggles I would face as a new teacher or even an experienced teacher, I would not have believed them until I had gone through it myself anyway – just like when someone tries to tell you that you are dating the wrong guy! We never listen do we?
Being a full time yoga teacher is hard. Not just a little bit hard but really hard. No-one ever told me that. Seriously. If they had I might have done more homework but instead I naively went into it thinking I could make a living out of teaching yoga and serving others. Some of you might be currently experiencing this. Then the reality hits. It means driving/travelling all over the place to get to classes, taking whatever classes you can in the beginning because there are so many teachers wanting those classes, getting paid less than you are worth, enduring heaps of prep time because we want everyone to have a great class, turning up and having no students show and so you earn even less and constantly giving to everyone else but yourself.
That was my life in a nut shell. I taught studio classes, workshops, private classes and worked 6-7 days a week while juggling a home, 2 little ones and being a partner. It took me about 6 years to reach absolute burn out but it happened. I fell out of love with teaching and I most definitely fell out of love with practicing. I didn’t blame anyone and I certainly didn’t blame the yoga studios for paying me so little because I ran one and after the bills were paid there was very little left for teachers.
There were times that I paid my teachers and not myself. Many classes my business partner and I taught to save money and some months we couldn’t even pay ourselves at all. It was as if my vision of teaching yoga and being happy and fulfilled was a pipe dream because the reality sucked. I had lost my way. I had to take a break from teaching and we sold the yoga studio. The love was gone. No wonder so many studios create their own teacher trainings… it’s simply to have enough revenue to keep going.
Why do we carry on as long as we do? I know I went far beyond my physical and emotional means because I didn’t want to let people down. I loved my students and my teachers. I saw what my classes were to them and the studio I co-owned and so it was hard to feel like I might disappoint anyone.
So with that said, what is my advice to you if you are thinking about becoming a yoga teacher or you already are and you are feeling the strain?
Well if you are anywhere on this journey then maybe stop for a moment and really ask yourself a few questions:
1) Are you truly doing what you love?
2) Are you happy?
3) Why are you teaching yoga?
4) Are you struggling financially?
5) Are you teaching too many classes?
6) Are you feeling tired or burnt out?
7) Are there classes you wish you could stop teaching but haven’t yet?
8) What would be your ideal number of classes per week?
9) How many classes a week would you have to teach to live comfortably?
The simple truth is that teaching yoga and making enough money to live on for most teachers is impossible. I taught anywhere from 20 – 25 classes a week, every single week. The burnout was inevitable. Even when I wasn’t feeling my best I couldn’t have a day off because that meant not getting paid or having to reschedule the class.
When I hit that wall, I was done with being tired. I was done with struggling to get by. I wasn’t done with teaching forever though or having yoga in my life but things needed to desperately change.
I am a firm believer in the universe guiding us where we need to go. For myself, it meant going back to school and becoming an aromatherapist. There was a little more to it than that… my daughter was ill, a chance meeting with a friend… you know how the universe works… in mysterious ways right.
It meant learning self-love, boundaries and self-care. It meant putting my happiness before anyone else’s. If you think for one minute that is selfish, I was where you were once. Initially I felt guilt but the only person that can be in charge of your happiness is you and it took me some time to figure that out.
So how do we as yoga teachers look after ourselves, our students, our livelihood without experiencing the burn out?
I have found a way and it’s something that I have been sharing with yoga teachers in my community for the last 3 years and now with you. Yes I am talking about essential oils. I use them for the emotional support of myself, my family, my clients and my yoga students. I use doTERRA essential oils in all of my yoga classes and I also teach my students how and why to use them too, so that they can be responsible for their own emotional health off the mat. My prenatal and mum and baby classes love having this extra support. This sets my classes apart from many because it is another layer of offering and sensory experience that they are being gifted from me.
How would you like to incorporate self-care tools into your practice that will not only serve you but it will also serve your students?
Mandala Essentials offers a plethora of tools for yogis who want to build a business with yoga and essential oils. Using our experience and our resource guides for yogis and studio owners, we can guide and mentor you through growing your business, teaching less classes and earning more income. We have workshops and trainings that offer you confidence in merging your yoga practice with oils creatively and safely with your students. I am so grateful for our yoga tribe, it is global, radiant and is sharing so much love around the world.
If you are interested in learning more please contact us.
I can wholeheartedly say now that I love what I do and am able to finally teach from a place of joy, wholeness and abundance. I know my yoga students also benefit from this and what the experience of essential oils has afforded them, emotionally and spiritually.
Whatever your path with yoga, don’t forgot what it is really about for you. Don’t let your own health and happiness suffer at the expense of serving others. Serving others is a noble cause but we serve much better when our cup is full. So if teaching is ‘your thing’, find something else to do as well to support yourself financially so that it can stay ‘your thing’. If it’s not oils then maybe it’s connecting with another teacher to run retreats or creating workshops that can support your students but also jumpstart your income.
It might even be a part-time job doing something non yoga related.
Do what makes you happy, I know I do!