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Recovering from Burnout as a Yoga Teacher

“Here is why you suffer, and here is what to do about it.”

In my role with the Yoga Well Institute, I have heard Chase Bossart tell the story of how he first heard Mr. Desikachar say these words many, many times. And they are a punch in the gut each time I hear them. 

Most articles written about how yoga teachers can recover from burnout offer the same platitudes of advice including taking time for self-care and prioritizing your own practice. All things easy to say but seemingly impossible to do—especially when you are at the end of your rope. 

I know this because I have been at the end of my rope many, many times. For over a decade, I taught 18 to 20 classes at 11 studios in the Denver Metro area. I have not taught a class in almost a year and a half and I still have my friend “teacher burnout” sitting right here beside me. It’s not something you shrug off by just rolling out your mat. It does not disappear even if you stop teaching. It’s a personal struggle with the industry, and the awe you have for the practice that, at some point, changed your life. 

Every yoga teacher experiencing burnout knows why they suffer. 

It is being the container for many students without a container big enough to hold you. It is limitless giving with very little receiving. It is a highly demanding industry physically and emotionally, with a constant struggle to make ends meet. It is platitudes about self-care with little understanding of who I am and what I need as an instructor and student of a lifelong practice.

I have no platitudes. I have no quick advice. 

With that being said, I know that I have found something that is the start of a long journey of recovery. Something that offers real and actionable steps towards regaining my own practice—and evolving who and how I am in this world. 

Viniyoga

Viniyoga is unlike any Yoga I have ever tried. A one-to-one relationship with a personal yoga guide, or mentor, is a central pillar to the practice. This means that for the first time, in a long time, I feel like my practice belongs to me. It is not something that I perform at studios or I teach for my students to observe. The practice is personal and I find I am not able to break it down into something that I can share openly through instruction—it is mine. 

At times it can feel uncomfortable, scary and awful to be a student again—but I know I am not alone, my mentor is guiding me. 

Viniyoga is the “and here is what to do about it.” 

It is a relief to be here and absolutely something anyone suffering and trying to recover should take the time to explore.