Thursday, June 11, 2015

Taking Care of Yourself as a Yoga Teacher

I'm starting to teach more yoga classes.

While I used to only do one class per week, now I'm averaging more like 5 or 6. Sometimes I even teach twice or, occasionally, three times in a day.

During periods when I am teaching a lot, it's especially important to remember to take care of myself.

Today I'd like to offer a few tips to yoga teachers who are teaching a lot -- and, really, these tips can apply to anyone who has a busy schedule and who spends time holding sacred space or care-taking.  I'm looking at you, parents! :)

Self-care is important for all of us. Stay grounded and remember how important you are; only by taking care of yourself can you offer love and support to others.

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself
  • Set an intention for your day. For me, I often think of one word for a quality I want to focus on. Trust or patience or love. Place this intention at your heart center and if throughout your day you become tired or overwhelmed, remind yourself.
  • Get grounded. Literally. When I arrive at the studio or space where I'm teaching, I'll take a squat or forward fold and place my hands on the ground. I'll envision energy coming up through my hands and feet into my body, floating all the way up through the crown of my head. I also picture sending energy down through my hands and feet, connecting myself to the space I'm in.
  • Speaking of feet... give your feet some love! Wear supportive shoes when you can. If I'm barefoot a lot in a day, my feet start to ache and sometimes my back feels a little uncomfortable. Find a supportive pair of shoes that you can wear before and after class. Go for a pedicure. Get a reflexology massage. Take care of your beautiful feet! :)
  • Eat nourishing foods and hydrate often. I like green smoothies before an early morning class, snack bars between classes, and bananas. Also, dates with a little bit of sunflower seed butter or almond butter. Just something light with sustaining energy, so I don't feel depleted or hear my stomach grumbling during the silence in class! And of course, drink a lot of water especially if you're in a heated room. Coconut water is great, too.
  • If no one shows up for class, don't take it personally. I'm currently teaching at a few studios where the summer attendance of classes is a bit slow. Instead of turning to anger, frustration or doubt, I'm making it a priority to keep gratitude at the front of my mind. Teaching to a smaller class is more challenging-- it requires us to be more intimate, and to fully engage our students. Teaching small classes has definitely helped me grow as a teacher! On the days when no one shows up, I also try to commit to doing a practice on my own at the studio for at least 20-30 minutes. Perhaps you were meant to do your own flow instead of teach. Both are important :)
  • Sleep. Take naps. Do a yoga nidra if you didn't sleep well the night before.
  • Get massages, Reiki treatments, and use a foam roller at home. Seriously, your body will thank you! If you're feeling exhausted, send your feet up the wall, too!
  • Meditate. Find time for stillness. This can be in the form of seated meditation, journaling, or even a walk in the park for a moving meditation. Reflect on why you teach, and why it's important to take care of yourself.
  • Remind yourself of your strengths. Sometimes if I'm over-exerting myself or feeling doubt or fear, I have more negative self-talk that happens throughout my day. Make an effort to stop the negative thinking and shift toward the positive. You've got this!
Yoga teachers, what practices do you use to stay grounded, balanced and at peace when you are teaching a lot of classes?

PS Tools for yoga teachers when sequencing a vinyasa flow class.

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