One of the most common desires I hear from the yoga teachers I work with is in regards to sustaining a home yoga practice. Questions fill my inbox from yogis such as, "How do I reignite my own home practice?" "How do I juggle teaching what feels like an infinite amount of classes and sessions and still take the time I need for self-care?" And most devastatingly, "How do I get back to the mat after having a heartache-filled break with my beloved practice due to yoga teacher burnout?"
Over the last few years I’ve refined my own home yoga practice so that it can continue to fuel my teaching and that's my sincerest wish for all of the fellow yoga teachers looking for tangible steps to establish, spark, and sustain their at-home yoga practice.
Here are 5 self-practice tips for yoga teachers:
1. Make a few rules.
One of my first yoga teachers encouraged us as novice instructors to commit time for our personal practice prior to teaching a class, each and every time we taught. Although practicing before class may not be an ideal arrangement or ‘rule’ for everyone, there's great value in having a few guidelines that you can adhere to in regards to your life, teaching, and practice.
The intention of these rules isn't to make you feel guilty when you don’t follow through on the commitment, but more to have a rough agreement with yourself for the parameters of your teaching and your personal practice.
2. Separate out your teaching prep and your practice.
I was told years ago as I was training to be a teacher that learning to teach would ruin my student experience. I couldn’t conceptualize what this teacher was warning me, but now I understand. Ever go to a group class and feel like you were ‘on’ the whole time? Ever go to a yoga festival for personal development and find yourself in the teacher’s seat workshop after workshop? Ever lose your flow of practice or yourself in your preparations for instructing? You are not alone.
Separate out time to be in the seat of teacher – as you prepare for teaching, invest time and energy into continuing education, and draw a clear line for your personal and most divine self-practice.
3. Optimize your teaching schedule around your dream life.
Optimizing your schedule may be a slow integration. Take stock of where you are in regards to your teaching schedule and where you would like to see evolution in your business ‘hours’ and your life freedoms. Note if you currently teach at times that don’t align with your ideal practice window.
Pay attention to the times that you are most in-tune with your own self-care practices. Slowly, begin to refine your schedule so that you can create the room for your personal practice and move closer towards freedom and harmony in your life.
4. Interpret education through your practice first.
The teachings of our teachers is magic. Resonating with content is a natural part of learning the deeper layers of yoga – but give yourself time to integrate the teachings into your personal practice before you transfer the lesson on to your students. Otherwise, it’s a content copy trap instead of an opportunity for you to take the information and teach it as your own spin and genius.
5. Treat your practice as a priority.
Your yoga practice is a priority. As yoga educators, we teach yogis to create lives that highlight self-care and love practices. We encourage yogis to show up on their mat week after week, and sometimes we struggle like everyone else with following through on our own self-practice.
Make your personal practice a priority. Sequence your self-practices as you would a client session or a date with one of your business contacts. Encourage yourself as you would a student. And create the container for you to have a revolutionary practice and a kickass support network.
What draws you back to the mat over and over again? How do you infuse your self-practice while juggling a full teaching career?