Burnout of a yoga teacher
Burnout doesn’t affect yoga teachers, right? Wrong!
In all honesty, over-working to the point of burnout is a trap I’ve always been inclined to fall into.
In fact, my most recent experience was just a few short weeks ago!
We’ll pick up our story on a cold, tiled, Spanish floor at 3am on New Year’s Day where I lay wishing I hadn’t had that delicious (but toxic!) curry the night before.
Later that day, feeling a little weak and sorry for myself, I received news of a lost contract that I was geared up to take on when I returned from my break on the Costa Blanca.
Although I tried my hardest to push the negativity to one side, the next few days were awash with a mixture of disappointment, overwhelm and disillusion. I wanted to run away and never come back.
Our ability to cope with challenging circumstances is greatly impacted by what’s going on inside us.
And, in my case, I was exhausted from months of working all hours of the day with a diary busting at the seams with classes, meetings and workshops.
Rather than listen to my inner wisdom, I denied my body and kept pushing – physically, mentally & emotionally.
Burnout, baby, burnout!
The term “burnout” (introduced by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974) refers to the mental and physical exhaustion that is the result of consistent or prolonged stress.
It is now described as, “one of the most important psychosocial occupational hazards in today’s society, generating significant costs for both individuals and organizations”
Those with ADHD tendencies (like yours truly) are more prone to burnout and experience symptoms such as:
- decreased motivation
- challenges with work or school
- negative self-perception
Lucky for me, I have a secret weapon that helps bring me back into balance: my yoga practice.
Self-compassion trumps stress!
Ahimsa means kindness and it is the first of the Yamas or moral guidelines that start our journey along the yogic path.
Understandably, self-compassion doesn’t come easily to many of us. We’re trained from a young age to strive for perfection and criticise our performance.
But, being gentler with ourselves has many benefits for our wellbeing including a stronger immune system and reduced anxiety, stress and depression.
Over the years, I have learnt to be compassionate with myself to the point where I not only accept my ‘flaws’ but acknowledge that they can be my biggest strengths.
Whatever is going on in my life, I always try to remind myself that I am doing my best and that is OK.
Mindfully does it…
Self-study or self-knowledge is one of the Niyamas (personal practices) in the yoga sutras.
For me, being curious about my own thoughts and behaviours has helped me to recognise patterns and habits that I have a tendency to fall into.
Noticing these patterns is the first step to being able to change them.
With practice, I am starting to spot these patterns more quickly which allows me to take appropriate action to bring myself back to status quo.
At times, this is as simple as taking a walk in nature or enjoying a slow yoga practice.
Santosha is another of the Niyamas that I come back to time and time again. Simply, it can be translated as contentment.
Although I have ambitions to learn and grow in my personal and professional life, I know the things that bring me a deep sense of contentment are already available to me.
In fact, I am never happier than when I’m sitting in a field, walking on the beach or snuggling with a furry friends.
My tendency to cram my diary full of appointments and activities makes me forget what is truly important to me. It is a constant cycle of forgetting and remembering. With time and practice, I am remembering more often than forgetting.
Keep going & keep growing
So, you might have guessed that I’m very much a work in progress when it comes to finding balance! But, that’s OK. You see, I am just an imperfect being doing my best in this human experience – just like you.
Sometimes, everything falls into place and I navigate life’s challenges without breaking a sweat.
During these periods, I thrive on busyness and feel like I am flowing through life with grace and ease.
At other times, my entire being feels like it is going to explode with a build up of energy that makes me want to scream, cry or run away.
The point of this message is to let you know that whatever you are feeling and whatever your experience in this life, you are enough. Even when you feel like you are only just surviving, try to remember that you are doing the best you can and that is good enough.
Wishing you less stress & more yoga!
PS If you are an employer or business-owner who wants to support their team’s wellbeing, talk to me about tailor-made wellness packages that aim to prevent burnout, increase productivity and decrease absenteeism in the workplace.
PPS! I’d love to hear from anyone who, like me, has become aware of their neurodivergent / ADHD behaviours in later life.
Get in touch on the socials!