A few days ago one of my yoga students asked me:
“What’s a bad day for you? I can’t imagine yoga teachers ever having bad days…”
While it’s obvious that, as humans, we all have bad days, she didn’t mean it as simplistically as that. There is certainly a preconception (or misconception) that teaching yoga is filled with grateful students, colourful leggings, green smoothies, relaxation, taking care of people and being a beacon of light. This is definitely part of the picture.
I LOVE my job. I chose this work knowingly. I was pretty aware of the challenges that come with working for yourself and building a business in the over saturated yoga market. Still, I absolutely adore my work, mainly because it doesn’t feel like work. Teaching yoga feeds my soul in a way that nothing else does. It’s humbling and empowering at the same time.
However. Being a (good) teacher assumes a great amount of responsibility. I believe teachers have immense power and abusing it, or being oblivious to the student-teacher dynamic, may be incredibly damaging to both parties. Being a teacher is about inspiring, guiding people back to themselves and their bodies and ultimately, back to themselves. As a yoga teacher you hold space for others to explore their bodies, mind and spirit and as such, you need to create a safe environment for students to embrace openness and vulnerability. I do not aspire to modern guru-ism. I do not believe that the teacher is wiser or better than the student. I see myself (and my teachers) as facilitators of growth, as examples of humanity and transformation. It is through real, transparent existence and presence that a teacher inspires the student to step into their own skin and play.
If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that I believe in sharing the whole picture. I don’t dwell on the negative, but I absolutely acknowledge and make space for it.
In my eternal quest for finding balance between offering inspiration and being transparent, I’ve decided to share with you all the things that trigger a downward spiral down the rabbit hole of having a bad day.
A bad day for a yoga teacher, may include all or some of the following:
Typical Bad Day Feelings:
Feeling uninspired and unmotivated: Knowing that what you do today will determine your success and your income in the coming months, feeling unmotivated is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. Working incredibly hard for very little (and sometimes no) money is a common reality for teachers old and new.
Worrying about numbers: Number of students in class, money in and money out, number of likes/shares/views, etc. While our highest self knows that it’s not about ‘the numbers’, in reality a considerably large part of the yoga business is actually all about ‘the numbers’. And that is incredibly frustrating.
Feeling inauthentic: Self promotion has to be part of every yoga teacher’s job in order to ensure your students can find you, yet most teachers will resist it in one way or another. Finding an authentic way to promote your services in person and online is definitely a cause of a lot of anxiety.
Feeling like a fraud: Oh yes, this is definitely a big one. The imposter syndrome is so huge it stops a lot of teachers from putting themselves out there and actually doing the work they do so well.
Feeling drained, empty, as if you have nothing to offer: Turning up to a class feeling empty is one of the worst sensations for a teacher. Yes you can go in and parrot a class sequence without passion, but if you want to really be there for your students, you know that won’t cut it.
Typical Bad Day Behaviours:
Comparing yourself to other teachers
Spending too much time on social media
Procrastinating out of fear that you are not ready/perfect
Trying to imitate other teachers
Not dedicating time to self care: practice, refuelling, recharging
Focusing on the negative
What do I do as a yoga teacher to get back on track?
Self care and all that comes with it. Quiet time, yoga practice, nature. Eating well.
Ultimately, it’s all about recognising that when I step into class or a private session with a client, it is not about me. If my focus is on myself, I am essentially stealing from my students. I have to get out of my own way, so I can allow the teachings, knowledge and ancient wisdom to flow through me. It is not MY knowledge I teach, but my interpretation of yoga teachings and human experience, as I’ve lived and understood them through my own practice. This evolves and changes with time which is why as teachers we need to dedicate space and time for our own development. But when we freak out about our own limitations, we miss the point of being a teacher and block the opportunity for exploration and transformation.
It’s not about you at all. You are a vessel through which knowledge and guidance may flow and reach those who are open to receive.
Our job as teachers is to keep the vessel clear and free for the light to flow through. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad day or you can’t be working through your own stuff; it’s like believing that as a doctor you can’t get sick. What it does entail however is the willingness to set healthy boundaries between your own stuff and that of others and between you as the teacher and you as the student. Define the boundaries and respect them.
I aspire to be a facilitator. I aspire to allow and create space. I aspire to living from the heart and showing up as the best version of myself. It’s not always easy, but it’s my life’s work and I am honoured to do it.