So here’s the thing: I love teaching yoga, it’s usually one of my favorite parts of the day when I get to teach a class I created with all my heart in it to a room full of dedicated people. It’s a gift and a blessing that I get to share and I am honored by every single person showing up on their mat for a practice with me. But there are some downsides to being a yoga teacher, that no one told me before I started teaching. What could that possibly be?
1. You can hardly go to classes anymore yourself
I teach mostly in the evenings and once a week in the mornings. Obviously this means I can’t go to classes while I teach and as fate would have it my favorite teachers teach mostly on the same days as I do. That’s a short but painful truth. Also when you teach 3-5 evenings a week, you are sometimes glad to just be home and not in a yoga studio, again.
2. You can never go back to being “just” a student
So when I make it to a yoga class, despite all odds, you will find me walking into the room with a big smile. I finally get to roll out my mat somewhere between other students and I am happily looking forward to being led through a class. I anticipate the poses and transitions that might come up, I enjoy the guided breath work and meditation at the beginning where I am allowed to close my eyes and get fully immersed in my breath and body. However I can’t keep my eyes closed for all 90 minutes and when my eyes are open and seeing other students my teacher-mode-switch just turns on by itself. I see people constricting their neck in down-dog because their shoulders aren’t as relaxed and wide as they should be, I see arches of feet collapsing, knees tilting way too much out of a natural axis and the list goes on and on. I have to hold myself back to not wanting to adjust them, silencing the cascade of anatomical studies which are talking to me and it takes a lot of focus to turn the switch back off, which usually doesn’t work for long anyway.
3. You are thinking about your own teaching
I’m finally in a class again, being a student. I managed not to notice other students too much. Then comes another pitfall. Scenario one might be that I am super inspired by the yoga teacher and I can’t just enjoy but I want to absorb it with every cell and incorporate it into my future class preparations. I want to remember how he or she phrased certain things which of course totally carries me away from the present moment. Scenario two is equally dangerous: I am annoyed with the teacher, I don’t like how fast or clear he or she speaks, I don’t like the phrasing and I don’t like the sequencing and all I can think of is: “Well I would never teach it that way!” Both scenarios take some serious focus to bring me back into presence and focus on why I’m really here: to simply practice. I have to practice just practicing.
So what now?
Teaching yoga, the thing that has changed my life so much and that I enjoy immensely, is a mixed blessing. I’m aware that these are some kind of luxury problems, but no one told me this before I took my teacher training. So if you are going to take a training yourself, just be sure to enjoy the last classes you take being just a student, which is a great gift after all.
Admittedly I have some strategies to avoid the above points as well. One is taking online classes – you can choose the teacher and the style and you will be one happy home yogi. I use and recommend both yogaglo and codyapp because both platforms offer classes with different teachers I admire. The second strategy is going to Ashtanga Mysore classes, which is like taking a class concerning the group feeling and the hands-on by a teacher without possible annoyance by the teacher’s style and the distraction by other students, since everybody is practicing in their own pace anyway. But then it is Ashtanga which is not for everybody.
If you are a yoga teacher and have had similar experiences I am curious how you deal with it: What are your thoughts and do you have any other strategies?
Thanks for reading 💙