Coping with Burnout

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Is this normal? Why do I feel so hypocritical about leaving my label of "yoga teacher" and just being myself for a while? Maybe my ego is afraid to say, "Too much yoga can be too much of a good thing." Or "At 50 years old, let the younger teachers take over!" What is my problem?

I believe that letting go of who you think you are allows you to become your greatest creation. Is it time to just throw in the towel when this happens? Or I am the only one who feels this way?

—Anonymous

Read Nicki Doane's response:

Dear Anonymous,

Sounds like you need a long-overdue break from teaching! Teaching yoga is a practice in and of itself. However, in order to be the best teacher you can be, you absolutely must have a personal practice to draw from.

One of the biggest problems confronting today's yoga teachers is burnout. It is a classic activist situation. When all our energy is spent on outside causes and work, like teaching, and we don't take time to take care of ourselves, we do end up feeling drained and exhausted.

So taking time for yourself is not a selfish thing at all! Quite to the contrary, in order to continue to be available to your students, you must take care of yourself. It sounds as though you should take a break from teaching altogether for a little while. Find some subs for your classes and take a few weeks off, or even a month. Be a student for a while and do some soul-searching, journaling, take a trip, and find out if you truly do want to be a yoga teacher anymore.

However, the idea that 50 is old and that you should let the younger teachers take over is self-sabotaging. Younger teachers are not necessarily better teachers. Our culture is overly obsessed with youth, and we must remember that wisdom comes with age, practice, and time.