Struggles Of A Yoga Teacher: Fatigue
One of the most heard problems for yoga teachers is fatigue. In the first years of being a yoga teacher it is very easy to get carried away with wanting to teach a good class. And teaching a good class isn’t enough: we want to teach a superb class. I believe this is because most of us are very passionate about our jobs and we want others to experience the benefits yoga gives us. I’m no different. Teaching yoga is my full time job and I absolutely love it. It is very inspiring to teach the ancient practice of yoga. I see my students transform in front of my eyes and I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of that. But unfortunately it does mean that in retro perspective I gave away too much of my energy.
Teaching a good class isn’t enough: we want to teach a superb class.
I Feel Exhausted A Lot
Because I teach a lot of absolute beginners I demonstrate a lot of the poses we do in class. I demonstrate a pose and give the students queues about the poses at the same time. This obviously takes a lot of effort and energy. So I feel exhausted a lot. On top of that, I teach a lot of hot yoga. Now wonder my body is telling me to do things differently.
Teaching In A Different Way
For me this fatigue was a clear sign I have to start teaching in a different way. Instead of demonstrating all the poses, I need to verbally explain poses more and do them less myself. Because I am very used to demonstrating all the poses, it is quite hard to stop. But with time and practice I am now more comfortable not demonstrating poses. Verbal cues, if done well can really be enough. And when I do demonstrate a pose, I come out of it once my students are in the pose. This has already helped my energy levels a lot. That is great news because it means I have more space for my own practice. If it’s hard for you to not demonstrate the poses try something we did in teacher training: take a block and hold it throughout the whole class. This way you can’t demonstrate any of the poses. It’s quite hard, you’ll see!
My Own Practice
As you might recognize it is harder to show up on your mat when you are feeling fatigued. Because I used to focus a lot on yang style yoga like vinyasa yoga for my own practice, it became even harder to show up on my mat. The mere thought of it was exhausting to me. When I did practice it helped me to get energized straight away, but that didn’t last long: my body protested. I felt my muscles were sore and instead of gaining flexibility I felt stiff a couple of hours after. That’s when I realized I wasn’t concentrating on what my body needed; I was too focused on what my mind thought my body needed. So the lesson for me was to start listening to my body more; to go back to being a student.
I was too focused on what my mind thought my body needed
Tools to energize yourself
So how do you cope with fatigue but still maintain a yoga practice? I think the key is to focus less on the asana practice and more on relaxation, pranayama and meditative practices. And if you do want to practice the asanas, start with shorter sessions. And be softer, gentler with yourself. I would like to give you some tools to experiment with at home. Try what works for you and what doesn’t. Most important is that you tune in to what your body needs. And truly act on that. I think this is the key to gaining more energy.
Most important is that you tune in to what your body needs. And truly act on that
Make yourself comfortable in savasana using all the props you need to feel comfortable to lay down for a longer period of time. For a 10 minute savasana lying on your mat without any props could be fine but when you want truly energize yourself you will need longer than that. So set yourself up, lay down in savasana and close your eyes. Focus on your exhalations and make your body as heavy as you can. If you like put on some music or do a body scan. Stay here for at least 20 minutes. Try not to fall asleep but instead let yourself drift away, just on the edge of consciousness.
Short Intuitive Practices
Roll out your yoga mat and start moving intuitively, start slow and with gentle movements. Your home practice doesn’t need to resemble anything you would do in class, let go of what to do next and see where your body takes you. I believe that if you tune in to what your body says it needs you will feel energized after. And that might mean that after two poses you want to come to savasana. Experiment with holding poses short or long; try some restorative or yin poses or even pregnancy yoga poses. They might just give you what you need. So move out of your minds (!) comfort zone.
It might be obvious but it will help your energy levels a lot if you eat the right foods. When we are tired we often crave for sugars because they give instant energy. This might lead to you making the wrong food choices like eating junk food. But instead if you eat your greens and fruits and (plant based) protein it could make all the difference. Find out which foods give work for you and which don’t because I think this is highly personal.
Listen To Your Body
So it all comes down to listening to your body. Deep down of course we know this but to truly listen is something different. Especially with all the superb classes you want to teach. My advice: slow down and spend quality time with yourself. Because you can’t be a good role model if you don’t put your own health first.