Off Balance

I’m in a weird, weird spot with my yoga.

I’m coming up on my 1-year teaching anniversary and I haven’t practiced in a week and I have no desire to. In the month leading up to this week off I’ve practiced only sporadically. What was once a daily devotion is slowly becoming an only-when-I-feel-like-it duty. And that’s an ugly place for me to be.

It has nothing to do with the Yoga (with a capital Y) itself but with the fact that I’ve made yoga my business. That I’ve taken what was once this beautiful hour-long escape and turned it into a full-time, bill-paying job.

I’m sure this is true of any situation where you make a hobby or a passion a full-time career, but what I’ve found is that it has caused me to distance myself from my personal practice. And that, in turn, has left me flailing for something as grounding and inspiring to hold on to. I have yet to find anything.

I don’t know if other yoga teachers experience this, but I can’t seem separate myself from the “work” of yoga long enough to land back into the practice of yoga.

I hate that.

It’s no one’s fault, but I think the nature of the beast is that it’s hard for people tell which hat I have on at any given time–yoga teacher, yoga student, yoga studio marketing director–and so I’m just all of them all the time. But sometimes, lots of times, I (very selfishly) just want to be the student again.

I want to quietly roll out my mat, not say a word to anyone, and just get lost in my practice.  I want to cry because I’m so happy to be on my mat, not because I’m so dreading it. That doesn’t happen anymore.

I don’t know if I’m the only one experiencing this, but I feel that way. I’m certain these are just normal growing pains and that things will even back out. And I’m really only certain of that because they have to or I will surely go crazy.

16 thoughts on “Off Balance

  1. Katie,
    This is one of the very reasons that I stepped away from yoga a few years ago. It all just seemed to consume my life…which at first I loved. There is something so beautiful about just being the student and being in awe of everything you can learn and experience. I know a lot of other teachers have experienced this, too. I say, step away from the mat for a couple of days, practice a new style and don’t think too much of it. You are exactly where you need to be. You are a rockstar!

  2. This is the very reason I no longer teach.
    I lost touch with my beginner’s mind after I started teaching, and after moving to Asheville and becoming a student, I found it again. My practice is better than ever, and I feel far less pressure now that I’m removed from the business of yoga.
    Did you read this post on elephant? http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/moving-beyond-the-business-of-yoga-harmony-lichty/
    As with any life-altering practice, it’s normal to need some space. Keep showing up and fighting for your practice. These are the times you need it most. (Easier said than done–I often say eff this and sleep in when I’m in one of those moods.) Your passion will return, and you’ll be stronger than before.

  3. Love you Katie. Love your classes. Love your honesty. Miss practicing with you. I have heard exactly this from many other yoga instructors. I would wonder if some of them could give you some direction in how to keep the balance.

  4. Maybe you are “wearing too many hats” at this studio. Soooooooo, why don’t you get different “hats” noting the person you are at that particular time and maybe, you will be treated accordingly. When you are a student, wear the “student” hat, etc. I’ll make the hats. ; )

  5. Our conciousness is constant and everything else is just a costume we take on and off or a role we play. Anything that can be changed, rearranged, taken up or put down is illusion. Mother, daugther, student, teacher, girlfried etc are all just roles. When we become identified with these roles and attach our self worth to them, we loose sight of the pure light of consiousness and we no longer have the ability to take off our costumes. We take them everywhere. We wear them all day. Even in places where it doesn’t make since to wear them. It is liking wearing a snow suit on a warm summer day. It suffocates us. In order to be free, we have to first admit we have on a custume and that the costume is not us. Than we have to begin the process of learning how to disengage or take off the costume when we don’t need it and enjoy switching back and forth between them all. In order to do that, you have to be fully rooted and connected to the real you. You can call it soul, consciousness, awareness, spirt, energy or God. This awareness has to permeate your whole entire life. Than every role you play is done with the utmost integrety and all your values align.

    I was director and lead teacher at Charlotte Family Yoga Center. By the time I took that role, I was so rooted that none of the politics could knock me off my axis. Find your axis. Maybe practice somewhere else for a minute, find your axis, and than learn how to go back and forth between the roles without loosing it.

  6. I think a lot of people struggle with separating work from life even when work isn’t something that started as a hobby. We spend a lot of hours each week working, and when it creeps into our non-work lives it’s a struggle. This is something I struggle with all the time, and my job isn’t something that was ever not work. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to separate the two when your job is something you did for fun! Good luck finding your way out of it and I know you will!!

  7. I like the suggestion of going to a different studio, in a different city even, just for the sheer enjoyment of the anonymity. I like mom’s idea of the hat’s, too. Seriously though, either this is an opportunity to practice boundary setting with your various “roles” at the studio, or you should find an alternate place to be a student. Good luck.

  8. I really appreciate your honesty. I went through this last year — I finished my teacher training in June and was teaching 4 classes/week. Nothing like your class load, but I definitely found myself drained and not going to classes as a student anymore. I stepped back, and only teach a toddler class with my 2 year old (and that’s basically just some stretching and lots of chaos). I tried bikram and fell in love, and have been going 3 times a week for myself. I am trained in Ashtanga, but, like others have commented, there’s something very wonderful about practicing at a different studio, in a different style.
    You are very lucky to be doing what you love — you just need to find a way to make time for yourself, as a student and human being. Easier said than done, I know — I have two kids (2 and 4 months), and feel like I never have any time. But it’s so refreshing to have something that’s all yours — you will get that back with yoga!

  9. First I am sorry you are going through this. I think it’s normal:) I went through it too and I’ve been teaching for a year too. What helped me was to develop a home practice where I was free- no heat, music I chose, poses I loved or ones I didn’t, arm balances, inversions and child’s pose. I usually practice before dawn. I never want to get to my mat but I am so happy to be there once I am!

  10. As several people have commented, you’re definitely not alone in this. After teaching regularly for 2 years in Gville, my practice suffered majorly, and was pretty non existent over the last 4 or 5 months. It’s why I’ve stepped back from teaching, to get back in touch with my own practice and my Self. Sometimes, last year, I would go to new studios nearby (or out of town) and not tell anyone I was a teacher, just to enjoy being a student, just to be taught. It was a great, incognito feeling.

  11. you are the last person that needs another hobby (i am the second to last), but maybe a more creative outlet. i have been vanishing into canvases lately with my painting…

  12. Practicing at another studio sounds like a solid idea. I’ve often toyed with the idea of going through teacher training, but I think I enjoy being the student so much. I often end up in leadership positions, and I like the feeling of approaching my mat as a humble and eternal beginner.

    I’m sure the solution will come to you sooner than you think. Best of luck in the rocky meantime!

  13. I think burnout is normal in any career, hobby, lifestyle, etc. Yoga says you should listen to your body so… listen to it. Take some time off of your practice, and listen to your body for when you should return.

  14. As a teacher, I get this completely. The cure for me was to take classes other places when I was out of town. I would sneak quietly in the back of the room and was able to participate in a class where no one knew who I was. (I find it hard to take places where people know that I teach as they either think I am critiquing their form or they want me to and that takes away from my practice.

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